To celebrate early spring and Saint Patrick’s Day, ten West Virginia state parks and forests will host Green Day Hikes in mid-March, according to state park officials. The hikes are free to attend and will be led by park naturalists and superintendents.
Participants who complete one of the hikes will receive a shamrock patch—an embroidered symbol of pride and empowerment associated with Saint Patrick and Irish folklore. The shamrock is a sorrel, and West Virginia is home to five native wood sorrels.
Hikers are encouraged to bring water, dress for cool weather, and wear green for the occasion.
Saturday, March 14
Naturalist Valerie Chaney will lead a 2.5-mile hike on the park's Central Trail and Ziler Loop. Hikers will meet at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center for a briefing, then drive to the Batt Picnic Area parking lot. “We’ll focus on spring’s arrival and see what green is emerging along the streams and mountainsides,” Chaney said of the event.
Kailey Price will lead a hike at 1 p.m. from the Cass Visitor’s Center. The 3-mile round trip takes place on a flat, crushed gravel surface. It’s an easy hike that will take about an hour and a half depending on weather conditions.
Naturalist Lauren Cole will lead a hike at 10 a.m. from the Museum/Park Office. The group will look for the early arrival of flowers or tree buds during short interpretative stops.
Superintendent Doug Wiant will lead a hike at 11 a.m. from the Anderson Activity Building. The group will look for different shades of green in grass, moss, flowers, or any other plant.
Superintendent Chris Bartley and friends will lead a hike at 10 a.m. from the park headquarters/nature center. “We'll do a little nature interpretation along the trail. There may be a spring bloom or two, but for the most part, we’ll hike,” Bartley said. “In March, we never know, but if you show, we go.”
Naturalist Maddy Shaffer will lead a 1.5-mile hike on the Giant Tree Trail. Hikers will meet at 10 a.m. at the lodge to look for new growth in the Old Growth Forest.
Meet Park Naturalist Julie McQuade at 12:45 p.m. at McKeever Lodge for a group photo. From there, she’ll lead a 3-mile hike around Long Branch Lake. This moderate hike will take about two hours.
Meet park naturalist Jacob Jackson at 1 p.m. at the campground area for a hike on the new Bus Loop Trail. The hike is approximately two miles and includes some moderately strenuous terrain.
Sunday, March 15
Tammy Cooper and friends will lead two hikes on the Falls Trail. One at noon and another at 4 p.m. Meet at the Falls Parking area. Twin Falls Restaurant is open daily and welcomes areas residents and park visitors.
Tuesday, March 17 and Saturday, March 21
Naturalist Paulita Cousin will lead two hikes. On March 17, meet at 11 a.m. at the trailhead of the Gentle Trail for an interpretive walk along the Yellow Birch Trail. On March 21, meet at 10 a.m. in the parking area of the former stables for a two-mile hike on Stemwinder Grade Trail and Red Spruce Riding Trail.
West Virginia’s state parks and forests are the vacation destination of choice for more than seven million people annually. Made up of 35 parks, nine forests, and two rail-trails, the state parks system provides endless opportunities for family fun and adventure.