A few years back my son and I had the opportunity to visit the highest point in three different states all within the same weekend. You can do it too and I'll share how we did it!
The states included West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It's a short, flat hike from the parking lot to the top of West Virginia as you can drive most of the way there. Maryland will require some uphill hiking for about a mile with a return trip on the same path. Pennsylvania is a short, flat walk from the nearby parking lot.
Day 1 - Friday
On Friday we headed to Seneca Shadows Campground in West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest. Once we arrived we set up camp in the shadows of Seneca Rocks and settled down for the night including an enjoyable campfire. If you have extra time I highly recommend a side trip to visit Seneca Rocks.
Day 2 - Saturday
We woke up the next morning, enjoyed breakfast, and headed to West Virginia's highest point, Spruce Knob (4,863 feet, map toward bottom of page). It's just a 24 mile drive to Spruce Knob from the campground but the drive does get steep on the way up. There were times when we were looking at the tops of trees right next to where we were driving. As we drove closer to the top the road leveled out, comparatively speaking, and we arrived at the main parking lot.
From the parking lot, we hiked a 1 mile circuit trail that brought us by the Spruce Knob Observation Tower. While walking around the base of the tower we discovered a US Geological Survey Marker signifying West Virginia's highest point.
I hear the views are amazing from the top but the day we went we were in the clouds and couldn't see further than a couple hundred yards.
Once we completed the circuit trail we headed back to the car and traveled on to our next stop, Maryland's highest point!
We easily made the trip to Maryland's highest point before calling it a day. For this next stop we parked just off the road at the trailhead for Backbone Mountain (map toward bottom of page). While this was the start of the hike to Maryland's highest point, we actually began in West Virginia. From the parking area we ascended a fairly steep section of trail for about 3/4 of a mile. As we neared the top the incline became more manageable and we came across a marker signifying the border of West Virginia and Maryland.
From there we were a short walk away from Hoye-Crest, Maryland's highest point at 3,360 feet. We weren't able to find a US Geological Survey Marker but we did find a massive cairn marking the point!
We headed to our car by backtracking the trail we hiked up and drove to our campsite for the night at Maryland's New Germany State Park.
Day 3 - Sunday
The next morning we ventured to Pennsylvania. To be honest, this is the least dramatic of the three highest points on this trip. If I wasn't aware Mount Davis (3,213 feet, map toward bottom of page) was the highest point in Pennsylvania, I wouldn't have guessed it. The drive to the parking lot is fairly tame and it's a short, flat walk to the US Geological Survey Marker which is found atop a boulder near the fire tower.
Having said that,
climbing the fire tower is a must!
And with that we headed back home richer for the experience! If you go let me share a few things you should know:
- Access to Spruce Knob is seasonal from mid-April to the beginning of December. Time your trip accordingly.
- A cell phone signal for large parts of this trip is non-existent. Just to be safe plan your stop points ahead of time and print out directions for every portion of your trip.
- When we did this trip a few years back it was the policy of both Seneca Shadows campground and New Germany State Park that weekend stays required a 2 night reservation. Be sure to confirm if you are reserving your sites ahead of time.