GRANDVIEW, W.Va. -- Now in its eleventh year, the New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend in southern West Virginia has become a tradition and continues to attract more participants each spring. The three-day celebration, set for April 25-27, guides guests through woodlands in four state parks and in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in its examination of flora and fauna. According to park ranger Jodi French-Burr, the weekend's "Hike Into Spring!" trek down the steep flank of the New River valley near Grandview attracts the most participants.
All weekend programs are free and open to the public, French-Burr said. Participants should bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Snacks, binoculars, a hand lens, and a favorite field guides are also useful, though rangers often have spare guides and equipment on hand.
Friday, April 25
Garlic Mustard Pull
Pipestem 9:30-11:30 a.m.;
Glade Creek 8:30 a.m.-noon
Help remove invasive garlic-mustard at Pipestem Resort State Park and on the Glade Creek Trail near Grandview. The Pipestem pull will be 9:30-11:30 a.m., and participants should meet in the lobby at McKeever Lodge in the park near Athens, West Virginia. The Glade Creek pull will be 8:30 a.m.-noon, and participants should meet at the Glade Creek Trailhead on Glade Creek Road. Participants should bring work gloves and drinking water and wear long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy walking shoes. Call 304-466-0417 for information. Reservations must be made by April 22.
Wildflowers 101: Basic Field Guide Skills
2-4 p.m.. Long Point Trail
Learn to identify spring wildflowers in the New River Gorge uplands on a two-mile walk along the Long Point Trail near Fayetteville, West Virginia. Participants are invited to bring a wildflower field guide or borrow one that rangers have on hand. The trail travels through old fields, forests, and along a mountain stream. The walk will be from 2-4 p.m., and participants should meet at the Long Point Trailhead off Gatewood Road near Fayetteville.
Youth Arts in the Parks Performance
6-7:30 p.m., Tamarack
Witness how nature has inspired performance arts of choral, dance, instrumental, and the spoken word. This celebration of ecology in the New River region through art features performances by students of Karen’s Academy of Dance, the Coda Mountain Academy of Music, the Show Choir at Ansted Middle School, the String Ensemble at Nicholas County High School, the Reading Class at Beckley-Stratton Middle School. The performance will be 6-7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Tamarack at Beckley, West Virginia.
Saturday, April 26
Early Birding at Grandview
Bring your binoculars, and get an early start learning to identify birds near the rim of the New River valley at Grandview, near Beaver, West Virginia. Explore several habitats, and observe feathered-friend hang-outs where the pastured highlands meet the steep forests that descend to the river. Participants should meet at Shelter No. 4 at Grandview at 7:30 a.m. and expect to spend an hour in the field.
Hike Into Spring! at Grandview
9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Join naturalists and park rangers on a leisurely 2.5-mile hike that descends the flank of the New River Gorge from the cooler uplands of Grandview, near Beaver, West Virginia, to the warmer banks of the New River. The hike "into spring" allows participants to examine a range of flowers in bloom as they descend into the season. Hikers should be prepared to walk some steep terrain along the old dirt road which the hike follows. The hike meets at 9 a.m. at Shelter No. 4. A free shuttle-bus will be provided to return participants to Grandview at about 1:30 p.m. Call 304-466-0417 to reserve a space or for more information.
Afternoon with the Artists
4-6 p.m., Tamarack
Come and go as you please at the Tamarack arts center at Beckley, West Virginia, to see how nature inspires the arts in the New River Gorge region. Explore the Tamarack gallery and its "Youth Arts in the Parks" exhibit at your leisure while West Virginia artists demonstrate their skills in arts-center studios. Try your hand at five-minute photography program in the Tamarack garden, where cameras will be made available to beginners. The program is from 4-6 p.m. in Tamarack’s front entrance garden and its art studios and is free and open to the public.
Signs of Spring Walk
3:30- 5 p.m., Little Beaver State Park
Learn to identify spring wildflowers in the uplands on a leisurely 1.3-mile walk in Little Beaver State Park near Daniels, West Virginia. Participants are invited to bring a wildflower field guide or borrow one that rangers have on hand. The trail travels through old fields, forests, and along a mountain stream. The walk will be from 3:30- 5 p.m., and participants should meet at the park office.
Sunday, April 27
Spring Birding at Babcock
8-9:30 a.m., Babcock State Park
Bird watchers are invited to join naturalists and park rangers in an exploration of the diverse habitat at Babcock State Park along the eastern flank of the New River Gorge. The program begins at 8 a.m. at the Glade Creek Gristmill at Babcock, a half-hour's drive southeast of Fayetteville, West Virginia. The event lasts approximately an hour and a half. Birders are likely to encounter birds of the deepest forests of the gorge.
Falls & Flowers at Brush Creek
2-4:30 p.m., Brush Creek Preserve
Enjoy beautiful waterfalls and wild spring blooms along Brush Creek on this moderate three-mile round trip excursion near Pipestem Resort State Park and Athens, West Virginia. Participants should meet at 2 p.m. at the park nature center, from which they will be shuttled to the Brush Creek trailhead. The shuttle will return to the nature center at 4:30 p.m.
Hawks Nest Views & Beauties Walk
2-4 p.m., Hawks Nest State Park
Explore the uplands along the northern reach of the New River Gorge on trails and walkways at Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted, West Virginia. In addition to spring wildflowers, the one-mile walk incorporates history as it wanders among stone and timber landmarks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The walk begins at 2 p.m. outside the park gift shop near the main overlook (rather than at the park lodge) and ends at about 4 p.m.
Map showing New River wildflower event locations
Icons pinpoint sites for weekend event parking and rendezvous points.
All programs are free and are open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring water and wear sturdy walking shoes. Snacks, binoculars, a hand lens, and a favorite field guide are also useful. For more information, call 304-466-0417.