After a long gray winter, hikers are as apt as wildflowers to burst forth, and eight West Virginia state parks are preparing for an epic Saint Patrick's Day weekend during which guided hikes are set to take advantage of the first signs of spring.
Green Day hikes are planned for Pipestem, Twin Falls, Watoga, Cacapon, Chief Logan, Holly River, Tygart Lake, and Blackwater Falls on March 16 and 17, according to Chris Bartley, naturalist at Watoga State Park and an organizer of the Green Day project.
Saturday, March 16
Cacapon State Park
Cacapon naturalist Valerie Chaney will guide hikers on a 2.5 mile excursion on the Central Trail, Ziler Loop, and the Middle Fork cabin area. Hikers will meet at the Nature Center at 10 a.m. and, after a briefing, drive to Batt Picnic Area parking. Other activities planned at Cacapon State Park on Saturday begin at the nature center includes Green Tie Day at 12:30 p.m. and Irish Road Bowling at 2 p.m.
Holly River State Park
Wear your green, and join park superintendent Doug Wiant at 11 a.m. at the Anderson Activity Building. The hike will venture along a trail at Holly River where different shades of green are apparent, whether among grasses, mosses, flowers, or shrubs. Dress accordingly, and make sure to bring water. The hike is paced to allow participants to enjoy the day.
Pipestem State Park
A 3.5-mile Green Day hike at Pipestem State Park is being led by park naturalist Julie McQuade along the Lake Shore Trail. Hikers will meet in the lobby of McKeever Lodge at 10 a.m. Pipestem is also hosting an Irish Road Bowling over the weekend.
Watoga State Park
Naturalist Chris Bartley will lead a four-mile hike along the Monongaseneka Trail at Watoga, to begin at 10 a.m. at the parking lot just a half mile above Cabin 2 along Island Lick Road. The view from the trail is breath-taking. Dress accordingly, and bring water. This hike is an intermediate level and has some steep inclines.
Sunday, March 17
Blackwater Falls State Park
Join Naturalist Paulita Cousin at 11 a.m. on this green search-and-find interpretive walk along Balsam Fir Trail. The activity is 90 minutes Following the 90-minute hike, enjoy Lime Sherbet Floats with the park naturalist and get your Green Day Hike patch.
Chief Logan State Park
Park naturalist Lauren Cole will lead a hike in search of the early arrival of flowers or tree buds in the hills above the Guyandotte River. The hike begins at 10 a.m. at the park museum. Participants who complete the hike will receive a Green Day Hike shamrock patch. Beginner's bird-watching programs will also be offered at 8 a.m. Saturday at the park lodge and on Sunday at the museum.
Twin Falls State Park
Park interpreters Bugs Stover and Deana Cook will lead a six-mile hike to one of the most scenic views in Wyoming County on the Cliffside Trail. Hikers should meet at 11 a.m. at the campground. A moderate walk, attendees should wear appropriate walking or hiking shoes and dress for the weather. The Twin Falls Restaurant is welcoming St. Patty’s Day visitors.
Tygart Lake State Park
Park naturalist and historian Jacob Jackson will lead a one-mile hike along the lake, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Tygart Lake Nature Center. Hikers who wear green will receive a 15-percent-off coupon for a gift shop item. Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and dress for the weather. Following the hike everyone recieves a Green Day Hike shamrock patch.
About Green Day Hike Patch and the Shamrock
The Green Day Hike patch is a small, round, kelly-green keepsake with a white embroidered shamrock. The shamrock, a trifolium, is an Irish term for clover. Park naturalists chose a shamrock rather than a four-leaf clover because a shamrock is a sorrel (Oxalis), and it grows mostly in the shady soil of the woods near rocks, on mossy banks, and most anywhere there's moisture. Sorrels are possible to find on a trail, roadway and backyards. In West Virginia there are five native Wood Sorrels (Oxalis) listed in the Atlas of Vascular Flora of West Virginia: Slender Yellow, Great Yellow, Yellow, and Violet Wood Sorrel.