Hiking, biking, fishing, climbing, hunting, paddling — West Virginia has long been associated with these popular pastimes. Kayakers venture here by the thousands each weekend, and climbers may be spotted scaling its cliffs on any dry day, even in winter. But what of outdoor-adventure sports about which you might never have thought? The editorial staff came up with five that are growing in the Mountain State.
West Virginia may not be the first place duck hunters think of when planning trips, but there’s much to be said for waterfowl now that new lakes have been established. Thanks to the creation of large lakes, such as Bluestone, Summersville, and Stonewall Jackson, duck hunting is growing more popular. Be sure you bring the proper duck hunting gear, which might not be available in local stores, and review the state’s hunting requirements.
West Virginia is one of the world’s chief destinations for whitewater rafting, but now a new form of water recreation is taking the state by storm — stand-up paddle-boarding. Stand-up paddleboards, or SUPs, are easy to use and are a great for exploring the state’s many scenic waterways. They perform well on large lakes as well as on narrow and shallow streams that even small boats may not be able to navigate. Grab a board and SUP paddle, and you’re on your way.
A bit of a fad in the ’80s, disc golf has become an established sport in West Virginia, where varied terrain and spectacular water features are naturally appealing to disc golfers. Disc golf courses are being built throughout the state, notably in state and local parks, and are usually free to play. Simply grab a frisbee, sling a backpack full of munchies, and head out to one of several dozen courses that have recently been opened.
Caving, or spelunking, is a popular but relatively little known pastime that attracts practitioners from nearby cities in droves. Caves and caverns descend beneath the mountains of much of eastern West Virginia, where countless thousands of miles of cavern remain to be explored. Four “show caves” are open and lighted for tours, but hundreds more remain open for exploration.
Irish immigrants brought the sport of road bowling to West Virginia in the early 1800s, and while the game was long played by only handful of practitioners, it has undergone a revival since 1995. Tournaments are hosted in a number of communities in which the Irish settled, including Ireland, W.Va., and Wheeling, and at Cacapon, Tygart Lake, and Pipestem state parks.
Do you know of another little know sport played in West Virginia? Please use the contact form at the bottom of this page to let our staff know.