Few parks in West Virginia enjoy the status North Bend has attained for hiking and biking, so it's little surprise that 500 guests are expected to visit this weekend for National Trails Day, celebrated June 7. The park has added two additional programs to its schedule this yeat to expand its promotion of outdoor recreation, according to park naturalist Ken Zebo. An introductory course in geo-caching and global-positioning systems and a star-gazing program coordinated with the assistance of NASA seemed ideal additions two the two-day itinerary.
“Hiking is part of the weekend, but exploring different outdoor activities and getting folks excited about summertime recreation is our goal," Zebo said during a break in preparations for the weekend.
"A lot of people are interested if geo-caching, so we wanted to provide them a place to start. And we're very excited to be using telescopes that NASA has provided us for the star-gazing program, which will allow many people to see the night's sky in a way they never had before."
More than 25 miles of trail wander North Bend and join the adjacent North Bend Rail Trail, which follows route the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad for 72 through tunnels and historic villages between Parkersburg and Wolf Summit near Clarksburg, W.Va. Named for the horseshoe bend in the North Fork of the Hughes River, the park is one of the most popular vacation parks in the state park system.
North Bend features a lodge, cabins, a restaurant, two campgrounds, an outdoor pool, and picnicking and playground areas. A 305-acre lake is among the newest resources at the park. Family Trails Weekend activities start at the nature center unless otherwise indicated, Zebo said.
June 6 (Friday)
- A Scavenger Hunt turns everyone into a super sleuth as you search for nature items. The hunt begins at 11 a.m.
- Plant Pounding creates a weekend keepsake at 1 p.m. Find your perfect plant and preserve it on cloth and use it to make a wall hanging or a framed creation. Materials are provided.
- Nature Center Open is open 2-4 p.m.
- The Overlook Trail Hike is a moderate-terrain nature walk to the overlook of the lake. Meet at the trailhead across from Cabin 1 at 5 p.m.
- Cornhole at 6 p.m. Challenge your friends or the park staff to an exciting game of cornhole. A tournament will be arranged if there are enough participants.
- Luminary Hike begins at 8:30 p.m. Experience the North Bend Rail Trail lit by luminaries while hiking to Tunnel 13. Local lore and history will be shared along the way to the tunnel. This activity is sponsored by North Bend Rail Trail Foundation. Hikers should meet at Shelter Number 3 for the 90-minute activity.
- Star Gazers are invited to view the night sky with telescopes beginning at 10 p.m. at the lodge.
Saturday (June 7)
- Intro to Adventure – Mountain Biking and Kayak Clinic is a two-day, four class clinic, that begin Saturday, June 7 and runs through Sunday, June 8. The clinic offers beginner to intermediate lessons for mountain biking and kayaking. This is a fee-based clinic and reservations are recommended by calling 304-643-2931.
- Kayak Demonstrations will be presented by North Bend Outfitters. Participants will paddle out on North Bend Lake and demonstrations will be available for several sizes and types of boats. Meet at the Boat Ramp at Cokeley Recreation Area.
- A Bird Walk will be led by Park Naturalist Ken Zebo beginning at the lodge at 9 a.m. Binoculars and field guides are recommended but not required.
- Historic Cairo Bank Building Tours – Ken Adams of the North Bend Rail Trail Foundation will be giving tours of the bank from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. He will be showcasing original office equipment and other artifacts from the bank’s past as part of of Family Trails Weekend.
- A Mini-hike and History Hunt in and around Cairo and parts of the North Bend Rail Trail starts at 10:30 a.m. and will last an hour and a half. This activity is sponsored by Country Trails Bikes of Cairo, where the activity begins.
- Nature Center is open 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Tunnel 13 Hike begins at 1:30 p.m. Experience the great outdoors with a dash of history mixed in. The trail is flat and easy to walk, following the old railroad line. The hike will last about one hour and covers a mile and a half.
- GPS and Geocaching program teaches the basics on how to use your GPS device for the newest way to treasure hunt – geocaching. The activity starts at 4 p.m. Bring a GPS device and search for some of the park’s hidden caches. The basic instruction and information is best for geocachers age 12 and older.
- A Fishing Derby is scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. Anglers should bring poles and North Bend State Park will supply some bait. Certificates will be given to lucky anglers. Meet at the River Run Campground check in station.
- A Night Hike provides a look at what comes alive at night. Naturalist Ken Zebo will lead this interpretative hike that uses all the senses to experience the nocturnal world. The 9 p.m. activities last about an hour and cover about one mile.
June 8 (Sunday)
- Nature Center is open 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- Venom and Poison is a noon program. Participants will learn what not to touch in the woods and how to identify dangerous plants and animals.
To learn more about North Bend State Park and other events and activities scheduled throughout the year, visit www.northbendsp.com or call 304-643-2931.