West Virginia Nature June 20, 2022
Trace The Eastern Continental Divide Through West Virginia With These 4 Geographically Significant Stops
There are six major ridgelines in North America that divide and direct the rivers of the continent toward their final gulf and ocean destinations. One of the six, the Eastern Continental Divide, cuts through the state of West Virginia.
West Virginia's New River flows into the Ohio River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. So do the Cheat River and the Greenbrier River. But the Potomac River, another major West Virginia waterway, flows the opposite direction, into the Atlantic Ocean.
How can this be? It's thanks to the Eastern Continental Divide, which runs through West Virginia and serves as the hydrographic divide for the rivers of eastern North America, directing some toward the Gulf of Mexico and some toward the Atlantic Ocean.
You can trace the Eastern (or Appalachian) Divide through the Mountain State from where it enters the state on the Maryland border to where it exits the state along the Virginia border on this geographically significant route through West Virginia.
1. Fairfax Stone State Park
Fairfax Stone Road, Fairfax Stone Rd, West Virginia, USA
The Eastern Divide stretches from Lake Ontario in the north to Florida in the south. In West Virginia, it passes just above the
(the source of the Potomac) and then divides the Canaan Valley/Cheat River watershed from the Mount Storm Lake/Potomac River watershed.
2. Dolly Sods
Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia 26260, USA
Eventually, the divide joins the Allegheny Front through Dolly Sods (separating Red Creek, pictured, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio River...
...from Seneca Creek, pictured, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean via the Potomac River. Both Red Creek and Seneca Creek have their source on the divide itself in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area).
3. Spruce Knob
Spruce Knob, West Virginia 26814, USA
The divide then moseys on over the state's highest peak, Spruce Knob, and traces south along the West Virginia/Virginia border.
4. Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory
Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, Union, WV 24983, USA
Finally, it reaches Peters Mountain and the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory before exiting into Virginia, on its way toward Blacksburg.
For a bonus stop or two, note that Interstate 64 crosses the divide (outside of White Sulphur Springs), as does U.S. Route 33 in Pendleton County.
Also watch for signage about the divide on Route 3 coming into Gap Mills.
Finally, one other interesting tidbit about the Eastern Continental Divide.
Historically (way back in 1763, when West Virginia was part of Virginia), the divide served another crucial purpose as well. It represented the western limit of the 13 original colonies.
Follow this geographically significant route along the Eastern Continental Divide for yourself using this
customized Google Map. Address: Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia 26260, USA Address: Spruce Knob, West Virginia 26814, USA Address: Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, Union, WV 24983, USA Address: Fairfax Stone Road, Fairfax Stone Rd, West Virginia, USA