Mule Hole

An underwater canyon. The Shavers Fork of the Cheat River meets a geologic boundary of softer stone where it has undercut the bed rock to such a degree that almost one third of the swimming hole’s total volume is under a stone roof. It’s not at all apparent to an observer unless the water level is extremely low. (Above photo taken with the Bemis gauge at 3 feet.) I visited a couple of times before I figured it out. It seems like you’re standing on a smooth block of rock right at the water’s edge when in fact you’re standing on rim of stone that extends as far as ten feet out over the water.

“You put a mask on and dive down in there and it’s like a cave,” said Rob Mullennex, who’s been visiting Mule Hole for 25 years. “It’s as deep as 13 feet. When the water is lower you can stand up on a ledge behind the fall and count the pebbles in the bottom. That’s how clear the water is.”

It’s a well-loved place that, because of its low relief, is favored for camping. It’s just far enough from the parking area that campers who like luxury need to be industrious about getting their kit and caboodle to the swimming hole. Mullennex and his half dozen friends used a wheelbarrow to transport an estimated 1,200 pounds of gear, food and beverages for their annual campout. An earlier group of college students visiting the Monongahela National Forest reportedly fashioned a dolly to fit the railroad tracks in order to transpor beer kegs just over one mile from Bemis.

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