This West Virginia Via Ferrata Is Longer (And Higher) Than Climbers Realize


West Virginia has some of the most stunning landscapes of the Appalachians and has drawn tourists since the early days of the United States (The Greenbrier has been frequented by around half of the US presidents). A great place to really get out and get some fresh air rock climbing in is the Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata.

If one is out in the Rockies, then try out Colorado’s new Via Feratta, which is perfect for those not afraid of heights. Ferratas make rock climbing an enjoyable activity that most people with a reasonable level of fitness can enjoy. While they are not for everyone, they are a great option to combine hiking with rock climbing.

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Nelson Rocks Outdoor Adventures

Nelson Rocks is a privately owned rock formation in the North Fork Valley of Pendleton County. It is operated by NROCKS Outdoor Adventures (previously Nelson Rock’s Outdoor Center).

  • Location: North Folk Valley, West Virginia

This is a stunning part of West Virginia (the highest point of the state is only 5 miles away). On three sides Nelson Rocks is surrounded on three sides by the Monongahela National Forest.

Visitors see a picturesque formation with razorback ridges like Champe Rocks, Judy Rocks, and Seneca Rocks. The razorback ridgelines rise some 800 feet above the valley floor. The formation at Nelson Rocks is made up of two razorbacks “Fin” ridgelines of Tuscarora Quartzite rock.

While Nelson Rocks is best known for rock climbing, this is not the only activity to enjoy. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, a canopy tour (including with zip-lines), and lodging (including rustic cabins).

One of the most eye-catching attractions along the Via Ferrata is a 200-foot-long suspension bridge hanging 150 feet above the ground below.

The ferratas were built by the Army during World War 1. During World War Two, these formations were used by the 10th Mountain Division of the American Army. The Army used them to train for planned assaults in the mountains of Italy.

Related: Travel In The Balkans: A Stunning Via Ferrata Launched In Kosovo And Promises To Take Your Breath Away

The Via Ferrata At Nelson Rocks

“Via Ferrata” is Italian for “Iron Road” and describes the time of climbing using metal rungs and cables affixed to the rock. This makes it much easier to climb cliffs, and sort of creates a hybrid between hiking and rock climbing. It is a one-of-a-kind adventure experience with a mile of fixed-anchor, professionally guided rock climbing.

The Via Ferrata trail is 3.5 kilometers, 2.2 miles long loop trail. It runs near Circleville in West Virginia. The route is considered challenging and takes, on average, just over 1.5 hours to complete, according to Alltrails.com, or between 3.5 and 5 hours, according to the Nelson Rocks website (they also call the difficulty of the route “moderate”).

  • Length: 3.5 km or 2.2 Miles
  • Duration: Approx. 3.5-5.0 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate or Challenging

This is generally considered a challenging route and is a route that only those with a reasonable level of physical fitness should attempt to complete. Nelson Rocks says that climbers need to have “some physical ability.”

Climbers are able to rest while climbing. All one needs to do is climb into one of the metal rungs and hang out. After reaching the top, take the time to gaze out and soak in the views of Spruce Knob in the distance.

During the climb, visitors gain 1085 feet in elevation, cross a large suspension bridge, and be rewarded with stunning views.

Related: The Telluride Via Ferrata Is For Experienced Climbers Only, And This Is Why

Planning A Visit To Nelson Rocks And Via Ferrata

Reservations are not required for the Via Ferrata, but they are encouraged or “highly recommended.” Sometimes they may not be able to accommodate walk-ins. All participants are required to have an NROCKS-approved guide.

  • Age Restriction: 13+ And Over
  • Weight Range: Must Be Between 88 and 265 Pounds or 40 kg and 120 kg
  • Dogs: Not Permitted
  • Cost: $80-125

Climbers/hikers are required to use harnesses, helmets, and locking carabiners. This route does not use rope (unlike normal rock climbing). Climbing the Via Ferrata is safe but be very careful to follow all the safety procedures and listen to the safety instructors.

Nelson Rocks also offers the chance to explore the route at night with their Full Moon Tours. The season for the Full Moon Tours is April to October, and climbers must have prior experience on the Via Ferrata.


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