Saturday, April 2, 2011

Where to Start in West Virginia

So, you want to come and visit West Virginia, but have no idea where to begin.

A lot depends on where you start, I guess. I mean, if you're coming from Kentucky, you'd be better off in the southwest section of the state. Let's suppose you're coming from somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast region. Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson are the three easternmost counties in West Virginia. I guess that's why they call it the Eastern Panhandle. But Hampshire County has more to offer. At least in my opinion. But then, I'm a bit biased because that's my county.

Hampshire County is part of what many refer to as the Potomac Highlands. And for good reason. The Potomac River gets its start here. The river actually has two sources. The North Branch of the Potomac starts at the Fairfax Stone where Grant, Tucker, and Preston counties meet. The South Branch of the Potomac doesn't start here but does run through the area. Both branches converge east of Green Spring in Hampshire County to form the Potomac.

South Branch of the Potomac just north of Moorefield, West Virginia
The "highlands" part of that title is pretty self-explanatory. Because everywhere you look, there are mountains, mountains, and more mountains. Not jagged, craggy, 10,000 feet-plus mountains like you'll find in the Rockies, but shorter, smoother, rolling mountains that make for some of the best motorcycle roads in the country. (Spruce Knob, West Virginia's tallest point, only rises 4,863 feet.)

If you're planning a trip to Hampshire County, be sure to visit the Hampshire County Convention & Visitors' Bureau Web site for lodging links. You should probably bookmark this site, too, as I'll be adding more and more awesome West Virginia rides.  And be sure to visit the WV Department of Commerce for a copy of the latest (free!) WV Travel Guide. This very same book is typically available in abundance at the various rest stops scattered across West Virginia and even some of the neighboring states.

And don't forget to let me know, too. I love playing tour guide. Or, if I am not available for that, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and/or give you some personalized route tips.

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