A wonder of nature at Honeycomb Rocks
According to geologists, the Appalachian Mountains were once the centerpiece of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea, towering as high or higher than the Himalayas. Eons have rounded off the old mountains and replaced glaciers with trees, forming a range as beautiful as any in the world.
The forces that lifted, folded and weathered the Appalachians sometimes resulted in unusual geologic processes and one of the strangest known to geologists is on exhibit right here in Pocahontas County.
The Honeycomb Rocks are located just off the National Scenic Highway. Understanding the educational value of the geologic oddities, the Forest Service has built a trail for people to see the rocks and signs to teach visitors how the rocks were formed.
The gravel walking path covers a short distance, just one-quarter mile round trip, and is very well-maintained. It is accessible for wheelchairs and motorized scooters for the handicapped. The trail, lined with wildflowers in places, winds through a beautiful portion of the Monongahela National Forest. A bench at the turnaround point allows for a rest in the most beautiful surroundings.
Visitors will find 10 stations along the trail, each with an example of the strange-looking boulders and interpretive signs that describe, in great detail, the geologic processes that formed the rocks. A hike on the trail is relaxing and fun, but also an excellent educational experience.
The grid or honeycomb pattern on the rocks after tectonic forces created intersecting fractures in sandstone rock. Over millions of years,the fractures were filled in with a stronger, more durable hematite-bonded sandstone. The softer sandstone eroded, revealing an incredible grid pattern on the exterior of the rocks.
The result is a true wonder of nature. According to the Forest Service, "Honeycomb Rocks are a world class example of a quartz boxwork hematite." Especially curious are wind and water erosion patterns in the softer sandstone which, framed by the harder stone, could be mistaken for prehistoric rock carvings. The Honeycomb Rocks really need to be seen to be believed.
An excellent plan for an afternoon family outing would be a drive on the Highland Scenic Highway, a picnic at one of the overlooks and a visit to Honeycomb Rocks. The picnic areas are clean and equipped with a covered pavilion, picnic tables, barbecue grills, bear-proof trash receptacles. Spring blossoms, summer wildflowers, and autumn leaves add color to spectacular views of the Allegheny Highlands.
Bring a jacket, even during summer, because you will be refreshed by the cool mountain air.
Honeycomb Rocks is located on the Highland Scenic Highway (WV Route 150), approximately five miles east of the intersection with US Route 219. Other nearby attractions include the Cranberry Nature Center, the Cranberry Glades botanical area and the Falls of Hill Creek scenic area.
For more information, call the Marlinton Ranger District at 304-799-4334.