Smoke Hole Canyon

Kent Mason, Photographer / Conservationist

The Smoke Hole Canyon, referred to as the "smoke hole" is a very steep and rugged 20 mile long gorge with vertical walls of over 1,000 feet in places. This remote canyon, sided by North Fork Mountain on the west and the 2,470 foot Cave Mountain on the east, has been created by the water flow of the South Branch of the South Fork of the Potomac River which has a riverbed elevation of only 1,100 feet. It is located on the eastern side of the Eastern continental divide, which is approximately 18 miles away, and is in the "rain shadow" of the Allegheny front. The Smoke Hole has recorded total yearly precipitation as low as 9.5 inches. Thus, the area contains rare cedar barrens that have 1,000 plus year old cedar trees and rare plants for the Eastern USA. The clear pristine river is known for great trout fishing by eagles as well as man. This gallery provides a photographic tour of the Smoke Hole.