Smoke Hole Gorge is not exactly on the beaten path. In fact, this spectacular white-water canyon in the Monongahela National Forest is extremely difficult to reach. But any visitor will tell you, awestruck, that it was worth the effort.
At Smoke Hole, the South Branch Potomac River funnels itself between two mountains. Raging waters have carved a 25-mile run into the rockbed—much of it with half-mile vertical walls. Constant mists rise from the swirling foam.
Experienced kayakers and white-water canoeists will get the best view of the gorge—but they’ll be concentrating on the rapids, not the scenery. You can access part of the gorge by land if your vehicle can handle a few unpaved miles of road, and you’ll enjoy some excellent primitive camping and picnicking sites along the way.