Smoke Hole

Pendleton Co / Grant Co

Upper Tract to Cabins

CR 2 / CR 2-3 / CR 28-11 (Northbound from Rt 220 to Rt 28/55)

[ Note: The following photos were taken during several different rides from 2006-2010 ]

From Wikipedia:

Smoke Hole Canyon was settled in the years after the Revolution by war veteran Colonel William Eagle who is buried near the towering rock that bears his name.

The origin of the name “Smoke Hole” is uncertain. Popular (and plausible) explanations include the claim that Native Americans used the caves of the gorge for smoking meat (some old timers used to call the canyon "Smoke Holes”). It has also been noted that a misty fog often lies along the river and ascends, thus evoking a "smoky hole". Another story is that the fires of moonshiner's stills gave the gorge its name.

During the Great Depression, the few people living in the Canyon started leaving to find better jobs and their homesteads were consolidated among a smaller number of landholders. The trend continued through World War II. The network of mountain roads formerly connecting homesteads and farms throughout the Canyon was largely abandoned.

The Smoke Hole region has become a primary project of The Nature Conservancy, which purchased a 1,126-acre (456 ha) easement in there in April 2004.

Under the Monongahela National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (2006), over 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) in the Smoke Hole area were set aside for non-motorized, primitive recreation and remote wildlife habitat. The West Virginia Division of Forestry, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, acquired conservation easements to protect private woodlands near Smoke Hole in 2009.


For a definitive history of the area, read: "A Place Called Smoke Hole" by D. Bardon Shreve.





This Historical Marker is located on Rt 220 about a mile north of the

south entrance to Smoke Hole Road, near Upper Tract.




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This Historical Marker is located at the south entrance to

Smoke Hole Road (CR 2) near Upper Tract.





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Another view of the south entrance (same marker as previous photo)






Eagle Rocks is located about 2 miles north of the south entrance.


WV Historical Marker for Eagle Rocks – Photo by Pat White)






Following the South Branch of the Potomac River northbound through Smoke Hole, you pass this old cave to the left.  It appears to be sealed up with large stones. 





I took this photo of a friend (Michael) in the summer of 2010 to show the size of the opening.





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Another view along the South Branch of the Potomac River on a sunnier day.





About 2 miles north of Eagle Rocks is this new Historical Marker for Smoke Hole Cave.

It is inaccessible due to private land restrictions.





Another riding friend (Pat) and I stopped here on a ride in the summer of 2010.






A view southbound at the Smoke Hole Cave marker.






This informational sign is next to the Historical Marker.






A view northbound by Smoke Hole Cave along the South Branch of the Potomac River.





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Shreve’s Country Store, located at the split of CR 2 and FR809,

 about 5 miles north of the Rt 220 junction.

It’s the only food stop on the 18 mile road.






Located next to Shreve’s Store at the turnoff for North Bend Park.





A view of the church from the road. 


Here are some notes I paraphrased from the book, “A Place Called Smoke Hole”.


As far as this building, it has an interesting history. The following notes are taken from the book

"A Place Called Smoke Hole" by D. Bardon Shreve.

The first pastor in Smoke Hole was John Shreve, a Methodist preacher who never built a church building -- they just met under a large maple tree. Methodists contimued meeting in the open and in peoples' homes for the next 60-70 years.

1889 - Jacob and Amy Kimble sold a tract of land to the Methodists, and a log church was built. The Methodists flourished in this area and the church was very strong. One interesting note is that this church baptised by immersion in the South Branch Potomac River (which ran by the church) rather than the traditional sprinkling method.

Late 1920s - The church had a big split, possibly over the pastor's salary.

1932 - The church replaced it's board of trustees and immediately sold the property to the Episcopals for $100.00. The Methodist church (national church leaders) decided to abandon the church, so it died a sudden death.

The Episcopal church sent a missionary to build up the following. He had some volunteers -- 5 well-dressed men who were camping along the river who drove nice cars and always had plenty of money and whiskey. Hmmm.... When the mission house and other buildings were completed, the 5 men moved on. No questions asked.

1937 - Attendance grew at the church until a new preacher arrived. (The former preacher's wife was expecting a baby and did not want it born in a place called "Smoke Hole".) The new preacher was not liked and attendance dropped.

1949 - The Great Flood of '49 damaged the buildings and the Episcopal Church decided not to rebuild. The property was sold to some local businessmen who donated it to the South Fork Rotary Club, who maintain it as a historic site.






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Recycling at the extreme.  Does YOUR home have a 427 Big-Block?





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Heading north a few miles north of Shreve’s Store. 

Unending scenery.





Pat took this photo of me enjoying the curves on Smoke Hole Road.

(I am riding northbound, about halfway between Rt 220 and Rt 28/55)





This is one of my favorite views along the road.  It is located about 2 or 3 miles south of the north entrance (Rt 28/55) looking east. In December of 2009, I was at the local mall and saw a lady autographing her “Short History of West Virginia” book in the hallway.  I picked it up to take a look, and the cover photo looked very familiar.  I asked her about it, and she said she didn’t know where the photo was taken. In fact, she said someone had told her the photo was from a spot in Virginia (Yikes!!).  “Not to worry,” I told her. “It’s Smoke Hole.  It was this exact location taken about 10 – 20 years earlier.”  The 20-foot tree just above and to the left of my front tire was half the size, as was the small perfectly-shaped pine tree to its left (just a baby 3-footer at the time).  And, to be sure, the shed was the same.  I emailed her this photo I had taken the previous summer, since I thought the author of the book might want to know where her cover photo was taken (Duhh!)





The previous photo without the bike, and about 30 feet to the right. 





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Another nice view about 2 miles south of the north entrance.




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Approaching the north entrance – just about 2 miles south of Rt 28/55 at this point.

Great views at every opening in the trees.





Pat and I on the bridge at the north entrance (Rt 28/55 near Cabins)

Crossing over the South Branch of the Potomac River.

Where I am standing taking this photo, Seneca Rocks is behind me about 15 miles.





If you decide to ride Smoke Hole Road, it is tempting to think of it as another Deal’s Gap road-racing course.  IT IS NOT!  This is an outdoor recreational area with lots of families (and children) stopped along the narrow road for fishing, hiking, camping, etc. We do not want to have motorcycles banned on this road just because of a few irresponsible racer-wanna-be’s.  Ride responsibly.  The speed limit is 35MPH.  If you’re in a hurry, stick to the main highway. There is also fine gravel on many of the corners, so Racer-Boys may quickly find themselves over the side of the hill hoping someone comes along and finds them. There are very few guard rails to keep you from ending up in the river or in the bottom of a ravine.



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