Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Click link below to expand
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - click to expand

West Virginia / Virginia

A very-scenic east-west route across West Virginia and Virginia. Of the portion of this road that I've sampled, there are actually only a few good twisty sections... however, one of these sections is extra good!!

Section Covered:
Weston, WV to Harrisonburg, VA

222 km / 138 mi

Ratings:   Rankings:
Scenic Impact 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Overall Score: 7.7
Twistiness 1 2 3 4 5 6* 7 8 9 10 Fun-to-Drive: 6.9
Surface Quality 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rankings and ratings explained
Traffic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 *see below for explanation.

US-33, part of the U.S.-class highway system, runs for over 1,000 km, from Indiana through to Virginia. US-33 is highly regarded on the sport bike riding circuit, so it was highly rated on my to-do list. I've explored the stretch from Weston, WV through to Harrisonburg, VA.

US-33 is definitely scenic. It crosses the mountains and ridges of northern West Virginia and of Virginia, and there are a lot of interesting waypoints along the way - Seneca Rocks, the Allegheny Front, the Spruce Knob area, and the Monongahela National Forest.

The stretch from Westin to Elkins I found not that exciting, from a twisty road perspective. This section is available in two flavours: a newer twinned highway, and -- in spots -- the original US-33 route. The original route is definitely twistier, but in the grand scheme of West Virginia-class twisties, it isn't that twisty. Anyway, the whole stretch from Weston to Elkins I give a thumbs-up for nice scenery, but just a sideways thumb for twisty road driving exitement.
courtesy LWard
Entering Pendleton County
Smart S2Ks at Sunrise
Open Pass on US-33
Some moderately good twisties are to be had in the vicinity of the Allegheny front, where US-33 rises to well over 3000 feet, then drops east off of the face of the front. Nice views of the West Virginia high country are available at the grassy, open pass at the height of land. After dropping a good 1200 feet, US-33 shortly arrives at the sheer quartzite walls of Seneca Rocks -- one of the climbing hot-spots of the East. US-33 turns south here, and is twinned with WV-55 and WV-28 for a short while.
courtesy LWard
Endless Blue Ridges
Seneca Rocks
55, 33, and Seneca Rocks
After heading south along the long and scenic open valley of the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River (whew!), US-33 diverges from WV-55 and WV-28 and heads east again. It then starts climbing North Fork Mountain, the first of several west-east ridge crossings. The highway is definitely more interesting here, entering truly good twisty road territory as it climbs and descends the ridge.
US-33 Twisty
Seneca Rocks Area
The Germany Valley
After North Fork Mountain, the next major item of interest is Shenandoah Mountain. This is the 'showpiece' of US-33: excellent tight 30-mph twisties on the west side, with double lanes on the ascending lanes (with lots of very wide excellent pavement to play with). On the east side, even tighter twisties (20-25 mph class), but no double ascending lanes. Superb bit of twisties, this. In fact, I strongly suspect that of the entire 1,000+km/600+ mile length of US-33, this is the best twisty section.

After this (heading east) US-33 quickly flattens out, and soon you are at Harrisonburg and I-81, and the end of my report on US-33.
Entering VA on US-33
West Virginia Sign
US-33 at Shenandoah Mtn
Sportbike disaster
US-33 at Shenandoah Mtn Pass
Luke on US-33
So. US-33 is a tough one to rate. Most of it, quite frankly, is not really all that twisty. The two parts that impressed me were on North Fork Mountain, near Seneca Rocks, and the superb bit on Shenandoah Mountain, on the West Virginia / Virginia border. If it wasn't for those two sections, I would have rated this road a 5 on my twistiness scale. Taken by itself, the section on Shenandoah Mountain deserves a 9 or a 10. But that's only a small part of the entire route, so I'll settle on a 6 for a twistiness rating. But keep in mind that there are very specific sections that are twisty, and much that is not. As far as other attributes go, the pavement is excellent throughout, and the traffic density doesn't seem all that bad. Scenery is first-rate, too.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Click link below to expand
Route Data - US-33 Drive, Weston to Harrisonburg
Start Time: 7:32p.m.
End Time: 8:24p.m.
Duration: 0h52m
Distance: 61.28 km (38.08 mi)
Average Speed: 70.7 km/hr (43.9 mph)
Start Elevation: 1943ft (592m) *
Max Elevation: 2308ft (703m) *
Min Elevation: 1057ft (322m) *
End Elevation: 1073ft (327m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 650ft (198m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 1519ft (463m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Start Time: 7:02a.m.
End Time: 10:03a.m.
Duration: 3h1m
Distance: 160.66 km (99.83 mi)
Average Speed: 53.3 km/hr (33.1 mph)
Start Elevation: 1907ft (581m) *
Max Elevation: 3593ft (1095m) *
Min Elevation: 1336ft (407m) *
End Elevation: 1364ft (416m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 7422ft (2262m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 8016ft (2443m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph

[ Introduction & Day 1 | Day 2 - Journeying South | Day 3 - Exploring West Virginia | Day 4 - Dragon's Tooth and Yet More Twisties | Day 5 - Final Twisties and Drive Home | Related Presentation: The Dragon's Tooth Hike | Ranked Summary of Twisty Roads | PA-549 | PA-144 | WV-72 | WV-20 | WV-16 & VA-16 | VA-311 | WV-39 & VA-39 | US-250 | US-33 | PA-125 | Road Rankings Explained ]

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