Random (but not really)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

I decided a couple weeks ago that for fall pictures, visiting places during the week would be less crowded and thus much nicer. We still saw people at New River Gorge, because I wanted to hike some of the best views, but it was not crowded, which was lovely.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Long Point
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1779-2106 ft (539 ft gain)
Temperature: 67-70 F

They spent the summer doing a lot of work on Long Point, and it’s now open again. They replaced the board walk with a causeway, raised the trail in several of the muddy places, and rerouted the trail in other places.

All of which is a sign of how heavily used that trail is, and why you should hike it during the week, rather than the weekend.

Of course, there is good reason the trail is so busy. Because of this view.

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And also because of this view.

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Even this view:

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The other trail we took was Endless Wall out to Diamond Point.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Endless Wall (to Diamond Point and back)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 1838-1980 ft
Temperature: 70-68 F

One day we’ll hike the entirety of Endless Wall. But since it’s generally the last hike of the day, since Diamond Point is prettiest in late afternoon/early evening, I don’t expect it to be any time soon.

I actually think the view at Diamond Point is nicer than Long Point, but you can’t see the bridge as clearly, so perhaps that’s why it’s less popular with non-climbers.

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The sun and clouds were really uncooperative, so this is one of the best pictures I got. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was even prettier than this.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hiking WV: Roaring Plains (Monongahela Nat’l Forest)

The Roaring Plains are only 3 miles from Dolly Sods, but aren’t quite as crowded (which is nice). We saw people on the trail, but not a constant flow, the way our last hikes at Dolly Sods have been.

Compared to last weekend, we had a relatively easy hike–most of the trail was relatively flat, with only a few steep sections.

Location: Roaring Plains West
Trail: South Prong Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation: 3929-4217 (676 feet climb)
Temperature: 60-57 F

The view of the valleys below was mostly just out of sight. This was the best view of the hike.

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But don’t think that made this a bad hike. It was a beautiful hike.

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Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls State Park

Our last stop was Blackwater Falls State Park. Initially we were going to wander around Pendleton Point and Pendleton lake, and then hike Lindy Point trail, but we both decided we were tired, and it was time to get ice cream and head home.

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Written by Michelle at 7:51 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

I’ve hiked this trail several times before, and will do so many times again. It’s a very short trail, with little elevation change, yet you go through several different types of habitat.

It’s a beautiful hike, perfect for kids, and one I highly recommend.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Blackwater River Trail
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 3158-3334 feet

OK, this is actually not along the Blackwater River trail, but the beaver pond is on the way to the trail.

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The Blackwater River, meandering through Canaan Valley

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Written by Michelle at 7:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon Rim

This was not a true hike, because we had difficulty getting there (you can’t enter trail head into the GPS, then we both misread what the road sign was saying) so we ended up wandering briefly around both ends of the Canyon Rim Trail, as well as climbing up Olsen Lookout Tower.

Location: Backbone Mountain, Monongahela National Forest
Trail: Blackwater Canyon Rim Trail
Elevation: 3200-3785

I did climb Olsen Lookout Tower, but since this is me, I was very slow and careful and did not stumble or fall once!

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The view from the tower. We had two separate 360 views this weekend. Pretty impressive.

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On the other side of the trail, we found this lovely waterfall.

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We will hike this entire trail eventually.

Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Dolly Sods

After hiking to Chimney Top, we weren’t up for much more of a hike, so we headed across the valley to Dolly Sods.

And I do mean directly across the valley.

That’s the North Fork Mountain Range:

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A closer look–you can see Chimney Top.

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But of course the reason we went was because it’s full-on fall at Dolly Sods right now.

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I love the beauty of my state so very much.

Written by Michelle at 5:04 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Chimney Top

One of the places I found that I wanted to hike was on the North Fork Mountain, up to Chimney Top. In a long weekend of stunning views, this was the best of the lot. Which is good, because it is a long, steep hike, so you deserve the reward when you reach the top.

The trail to Chimney Top is off the North Fork Mountain Trail and marked by two large rock cairns. Along the trail there are views of the west side of Dolly Sods, but if you struggle all the way up to Chimney Top, and the climb onto the rocks (I was hesitant initially but it was worth it) you have a natural 360 view.

It is stunning.

Location: North Fork Mountain
Trail: North Fork Mountain Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles (only to Chimney top & back)
Elevation: 1130-3180 feet (2063 feet)
Grade: 15.4% (avg)
Temperature: 74-80 F

Here is a 180 view facing the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

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Here is a view facing north and west.

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Facing south.

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There were several scrub pine that kept me from getting a shot I liked facing west, but it was still beautiful.

This is the view I had after reaching the top of the trail and collapsing in the nearest shade where I drank water and considered taking a brief nap.

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The rocks themselves are fascinating.

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It was stunning and beautiful and I highly recommend the hike–although bring extra water, because it is STEEP.

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This hike is nor for everyone, but if you think you can manage 2 1/2 miles straight up the mountainside, I do recommend it for the view.

Written by Michelle at 4:52 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Harmon Rocks

One of the things I wanted to do these trips was to visit some places we hadn’t before. We were focused for awhile on visiting all the state parks & forests, so we hadn’t explored as much of the national forests as I’d have liked. We’ve started remedying that.

Harmon rocks are located just outside the Monongahela National Forest, with no signs and up a very steep and rocky gravel road. (Other vehicles could drive it, our Corolla? Not so much.) In fact we were initially unsure we were in the right place, but parked next two a truck with two gentleman and two hound dogs who had been out hunting bear all day, and they told us the rocks were straight up the hill (the road was, of course, all switchbacks). One gentleman didn’t seem convinced when we said we were good with walking up the hill, but it was less than a mile, and I said we’d already hiked up Seneca Rocks that day, so we’d be fine.

Which we were. Although a little out of breath at the top.

Location: Harmon Rocks
Distance: 1.6 miles (out and back from road)
Elevation: 3527-4151 feet (624 feet climb)
Grade: 18%

The view was well worth the slog up to the top.

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There is a trail of sorts there. But it’s more like a rough path hacked out of the rhododendron and mountain laurel. I don’t really recommend it.

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The view was marvelous.

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I’m not sure I’d want to make the hike up there again, but it really was well-worth the visit.

Written by Michelle at 1:13 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Spruce Knob

This was more of a short wander than a hike, but the colors were better from Spruce Knob.

Also, it was warmer than I have ever known it to be at Spruce Knob. I normally wear multiple layers, and last visit, at the end of May, I was wearing gloves to be more comfortable. Saturday it was in the lower seventies.

Location: Spruce Knob
Trail: Whispering Spruce Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation: 4865-4935 feet
Temperature: 72 F

You can see the color change moving down the mountainside here.

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And here, some beautiful color.

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You really can see quite far from the highest point in WV.

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A beautiful walk.

Written by Michelle at 12:57 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

We decided a long weekend was in order, to enjoy the clear skies and the color changes in the Monongahela Forest.

It was far warmer than it should have been, and the color change in this area wasn’t much, but it was still a beautiful hike.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation: 1670-2503 feet (829 ft elevation)
Grade: 9.7%
Temperature: 74-80

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Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

It’s mid-September, which means some areas in WV are starting to see leaf change. Color change was just starting in the Cranberry Wilderness, which was pretty, however the day was overcast, so it wasn’t good for taking pictures of the landscape.

It was, however, still a lovely day for a hike.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trails: North Fork, West Fork Trails
Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation: 3766-4425 feet (751 feet rise)
Temperature: 63-52 F

These two trails are old forest roads, so although we dropped in elevation, it was a relatively gentle drop. It was also very interesting so see the wilderness taking over the old road.

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The Middle Fork Trail followed the Middle Fork of the Williams river, and since you’re heading down the mountain, the Middle Fork gets bigger as you go.

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You can see the color starting to move down the mountain.

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Here is the Glade itself, looking off the boardwalk. If there had been sunlight, it would have been even more stunning. But even without it is impressive.

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Written by Michelle at 9:06 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hiking WV: Seneca Creek Backcountry

Saturday was a perfect day for a hike. After great debate, we headed to the Seneca Rocks-Spruce Knob area to hike at Seneca Creek Backcountry.

Location: Seneca Creek Backcountry
Trail: Swallow Rock Trail
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 3060-4039 feet (1139 ft elevation gain)
Avg Grade: 8.1%
Temperature: 55-58 F

The trails we’ve hiked at Seneca Creek Backcountry are out and back hikes that start at the bottom of the mountain and go up to the Allegheny Mountain Trail.

Unlike the other trail we hiked, there were not photogenic spots, so I took zero pictures. But it was a lovely hike, and one I would recommend.

Even if next time I’ll pick a trail with vistas for taking pictures.

Written by Michelle at 9:36 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Wilderness

It was a gorgeous day for a hike in Canaan. And also for wandering around Davis, after eating ice cream.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trail: Table Rock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 3385-3500 feet
Temperature: 72 F

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Written by Michelle at 8:58 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls & Canaan Valley SPs

Most of our hiking was with small people this weekend, so they were short, easy hikes.

We did do one hike for ourselves–I’ve wanted for awhile to scramble down to the falls that are visible across the gorge from Pendleton Point. So, we did.

The Canaan Valley SP hike is one I highly recommend for small people. It’s short, it’s relatively flat, and it’s gorgeous.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Blackwater River Trail
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 3252-3337 feet

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Here’s the hike we did for me.

Location: Blackwater Falls
Trail: Elekala Falls and off trail
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 3031-3219 feet

Here are the main falls, the ones directly below the lodge.

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The next set of falls:

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Next falls down:

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Hey look! Pendleton Point!

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And finally the section of falls visible from Pendleton Point:

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The scramble wasn’t awful, but the rhododendron is thick, which always makes things difficult.

I wouldn’t mind going down when it was a little drier, just so I could explore a little more. (This is me: I refuse to clamber along falls when there is a fast flow of water. Because I’m not a complete idiot.)

Written by Michelle at 6:27 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

We’ve wanted to do a long hike in the Cranberry Wilderness for quite awhile, however, a 2+ hour drive, then a long hike, then another 2+ hour drive was… unappealing.

So we’ve spent the past couple months gather things we’d need for an overnight trip where there aren’t hotels, Michael rented a tent from the Rec Center, and we were off!

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trails: North-South and Lick Branch trails and FR 76
Distance: 9.6 miles
Elevation: 2552-3795 feet (1618 feet elevation gain)

One of the books I have recommend this hike in the opposite direction.

No.

The direction we went–North-South trail followed by Lick Creek Trail and then taking the road back is the way you want to do this look.

First, the North South trail is fine, but it’s steep from the campsite to the ridgeline–about a 9% grade. And although it’s pleasant enough, it’s not the most rewarding view.

Although we did amuse ourselves.

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That sign? It’s warning you that no motorized vehicles are allowed on the Wilderness.

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There is another sign, in a wide view showing you the the surrounding trail.

There is no way you could GET a motorized vehicle to where these signs were, unless it was a hovercraft, and even then it’d be chancy. There were endless fallen trees, lots of going through narrow passages etc.

So, I giggled every time I saw those signs someone was forced to place in an area already inaccessible to motorized vehicles.

Also found a newly placed marker!

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And several swarms of butterflies.

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But, it wasn’t anything spectacular. No views down into the various valleys, etc.

Here is the start of Lick Creek at the top of the Lick Creek trail. Now things are starting to get pretty!

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And this is the end of the trail–pretty much visible from the forest road (and by road, I mean Fire Trail type road, closed to cars but accessible in an emergency).

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Why put the prettiest thing at the start of the strenuous part of the hike? What is your reward for finishing? A 9% grade? Bah humbug.

Additionally, since the last couple miles were on the forest road, that meant we were able to stretch our legs and walk out the kinks from the ascent and descent. Nice! And the road is along the river! So pretty!

So my recommendation is start this loop from the gate. Unless you’re a masochist, in which case this probably isn’t a long or miserable enough hike for you, so why bother?

Written by Michelle at 7:14 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Yesterday kept threatening thunderstorms all day, so no hiking. So today we went down to the Mont Chateau trail. The creek was running really high.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Rock City, Ridge, Mont Chateau, Rhododendron Trails
Distance: 4.3 miles
Elevation: 1497-2107 feet (724 feet gain)
Temperature: 68-72 F

This is where I usually build my rock piles. As you can see, everything previous was washed away.

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Much deeper water than normal. Plus MUCH colder.

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Water was cascading down both sides of the split. Not fast enough to be dangerous, but fast enough for me to be extra careful.

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Nature left this, perhaps in compensation for knocking down all my rock piles.

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Written by Michelle at 7:08 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Because Michael had to go into work yesterday, we didn’t get out to the woods until late, so we took the Iron Furnace trail, which is rocky but much less steep, down to the Mont Chateau Trail, and then played around in the creek for awhile.

Because what’s the point of being an adult if you can’t play in the creek?

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Iron Furnace, Mont Chateau Trails
Distance: 3.4 miles
Elevation: 1517-1946 feet (810 feet gain)
Temperature: 79-78 F

Last week’s storm knocked down my rocks, so I stacked up more.

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I would have stayed longer if I wasn’t worried about stumbling on my way out in the dark.

Written by Michelle at 1:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley

I really like the Blackwater Trail at Cannan Valley SP. It’s a very short trail, with almost no elevation gain, but it goes through three different kinds of landscape–the prettiest of which is beside the winding Blackwater River. If you’re looking for a trail to take small kids, this is the one you want.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Blackwater Trail
Distance: 1.0 miles
Elevation: 3213-3275 feet

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Written by Michelle at 8:52 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We managed to spent the night in Canaan, so we took a long hike at Dolly Sods (most of our Saturday hikes are limited by the fact we have to drive 2-3 hours there and then 2-3 hours home after hiking). So it was nice to know that we could have until we were tired and not have to worry about a long drive afterwards.

Location: Dolly Sods
Trails: Valley View, Rocky Ridge, Raven Ridge, Bear Rocks Trails
Distance: 11.0 miles
Elevation: 3817-4198 feet (1447 feet ascent)

I took about a zillion pictures, because the Dolly Sods area is gorgeous.

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Written by Michelle at 7:49 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Rhododendron, Mont Chateau, Clay Run, and Unofficial Trails
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 1510-2126 feet (800 feet elevation gain)
Temperature: 80-85 F

Last week’s rock sculpture was still there!

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So I added a new one, to a newly fallen tree.

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It’s just so lovely and peaceful.

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Written by Michelle at 5:46 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  
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