Autumn is an ideal season for woodland walks and, to celebrate, six West Virginia state parks and forests are offering guided hikes with park naturalists in October 2019.
Participants will receive a special West Virginia State Parks hiking patch and are encouraged to stay overnight in parks where lodging is available, according to parks chief Sam England.
“Cooler temperatures and landscapes draped in deciduous brilliance are an invitation to enjoy fall color,” England said. “We also invite people to join a park naturalist for a walk and some interpretative information along a trail or path.”
The "WonderFall Walks" programs are free to attend and open to the public, and participants should bring water and snacks, wear sturdy boots or walking shoes, and dress for the weather.
Participants who complete a WonderFall Walk with a naturalist will receive a special patch—one of four being offered during the year. Others include a First Day hiking patch, offered January 1, a Green Day hiking patch, offered during Saint Patrick's Day, and National Trails Day hiking patch offered in June.
The WonderFall Walk patch will be presented to participants who complete a hike, walk, or stroll with the naturalist while supplies last.
WonderFall Walks are scheduled for the following parks and forests.
Oct. 5, 2019 – Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Naturalist/interpreter Kailey Price will lead the walk, departing from the Cass Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m. It is an easy 3-mile round trip on a flat crushed gravel surface of the Greenbrier River Trail and will take about 90 minutes.
Oct. 12, 2019 – Kanawha State Forest
Meet naturalist and birder Dave Dendler at 10 a.m. for a 4.5-mile hike that includes the CCC Snipe, Mossy Rock, and Teaberry trails. Stops along the way will feature interpretative stories and information about fall colors, vegetation, migratory birds and wildlife. Hikers should gather at the Camp Kanawha parking lot where Picnic Shelters No. 8 and No. 9 are located.
Oct. 12, 2019 – North Bend State Park
A 10-mile hike along the North Bend Rail Trail will be led by Naturalist Ken Zebo and staff. Hikers will see the haunted Silver Run Tunnel, the historic towns of Petroleum and Cairo, one of the original abandoned stone tunnels, and several bridge crossings. Registration is required by Oct. 10 so that shuttle service can be arranged to the starting point at Petroleum. To register, call Ken Zebo at 304-643-2931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct. 12, 2019 – Tygart Lake State Park
Armed with historic insight and flora and fauna knowledge, Naturalist Jacob Jackson will lead the walk starting at Tygart Lake Lodge at 2 p.m. Stops along the way will include interpretative stories and information about fall colors, vegetation, migratory birds and wildlife that may be observed at the park and at Tygart Lake.
Oct. 18, 19, 2019 – Cacapon Resort State Park
Two hikes will be led by Naturalist Valery Chaney.
LAUREL TRAIL – Oct. 18
Meet at Cacapon Lodge for a 2 p.m. hike of about 3 miles. Laurel Trail is a loop hike combining several trails to allow enjoyment of the fall scenery.
CENTRAL TRAIL – Oct. 19
Meet at Cacapon Lodge for a 10 a.m. hike. Participants will caravan to the Batt picnic parking lot to hike a portion of the Central Trail. This 3-mile loop winds around the Middle Fork Cabin loop, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, taking in the views, changing leaves and mountain streams at Cacapon Resort State Park.
Oct. 11, 12, 13, 2019 – Blackwater Falls State Park
Three hikes will be led by Naturalist Paulita Cousin and are pet-friendly
PASE POINT HIKE – Oct. 11
Meet at Blackwater Falls Nature Center for a 10 a.m. hike that borders the Monongahela National Forest and goes to an unrestricted rock outcropping with a spectacular view of Blackwater Canyon. The trail is intermediate with short but steep inclines, about 3 miles round trip taking three hours.
NORTH WOODS WALK – Oct. 12
Meet at the Blackwater Falls Sled Run for a 2:30 p.m. walk through a northern hardwood forest. This is a 1-mile hike at a slow pace, taking about 90 minutes.
TEAS AND TONICS WALK – Oct. 13, 12:30 p.m.
Meet at Blackwater Falls Nature Center for an interpretative stroll along Pendleton Lake trails discovering something edible or medicinal about some of the plants encountered along the way. It starts at 12:30 p.m. and will last about 70 minutes for the 1-mile walk.
Hikers who would like to stay overnight can visit WVStateParks.com to book a lodge room, cabin, or campsite.