Random (but not really)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

This may well have been our last hike in snow of the season, so I was glad we were able to enjoy it–and that it was such a beautiful day.

I love the Cranberry Wilderness and am glad we got to hike it in the snow.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Charles Creek, Cowpasture Trails
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 3422-3564 feet
Temperature: 31 F

There used to be a prison in this area–a prison that didn’t bother with walls and barbed wire, since it was so far away from civilization that there was nowhere for escaped prisoners to go.

Although this prison was open during the Korean war (conscientious objectors were typically sent here) there are very few signs of civilization left: some spots of asphalt, the occasional chimney, and some stairs.



Charles Creek



Written by Michelle at 8:55 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Falls of Hills Creek

The Falls of Hills Creek is one of the places where there is a very small window of time if you want light for taking pictures.

We managed to nail that window Saturday.

Lower Falls


Hills Creek



Middle Falls



Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hiking WV: Solly Sods

Our original plan was the get to Canaan Thursday night and spend Friday and the weekend hiking, but when the forecast changed to rain on Saturday and overcast all Friday, we shifted things a bit so I could take pictures Thursday afternoon, and then Friday would be hiking.

We got very lucky, because instead of overcast, the weather was partially cloudy, and our hike at Dolly Sods ended up being absolutely stunning.

Location: Dolly Sods
Trails: Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob, Harman Trails
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 3746-4190 feet (684 ft)
Temperature: 30-41F

We’ve had a lot of odd weather this winter. For the second time this month, we had rain immediately followed by freezing temperatures and snow. When the rain fell on ground that was already freezing, it meant a lot of ice.

This was the trail we took up to Dolly Sods. It was a little more exciting than I generally prefer.


Luckily, that was the worst portion of anything we hiked, and the view was well-worth the care we had to take reaching the ridge.


Until temperatures warmed up to the mid 30s, all the trees were covered with snow and frost, and we walked through an amazing winter wonderland.



We hiked down to the Left Branch of Red Creek and then turned around. It wasn’t one of our longest hike, but stepping into the occasional drift made the hike a little more work than usual.


It once again reminded me how very lucky I am to both live in such an amazing place, and be able to get out and enjoy it.


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Hiking WV: Canaan Valley

Of course we hiked the Blackwater Trail at Canaan Valley, because it’s one of my favorite trails, and since it’s short and easy, there’s never a reason not to hike it.


I’ve been trying for as long as I’ve been hiking this trail to get a picture I liked of these stones (they are in several places). Finally, with the light coming through the winter trees and the snow lightening everything, I finally got a couple pictures I liked.


Ice sandwich!




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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

It had warmed up by the time we made it to New River Gorge, but there was still snow, and it was still beautiful.

We hadn’t been to endless wall in the winter before, so I was surprised to see 1) how close we actually were to the ground and 2) the shape of the underlying mountains.


With the leaf fall, you can see across the river to the Kaymoor Miners Trail and old Kaymoor Mine site.

If you zoom in on this picture, you can more clearly see the 821 steps down to the railroad tracks.


Here is the bottom of the site and you can see the decayed buildings and ghosts of the railroad tracks.


The trail itself is a relatively easy and has an amazing payoff.


We wandered off trail a bit to explore the creek.



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Traveling WV: Babcock State Park

We were originally heading to Cranberry Glades when I realized how beautiful the morning was, and that Babcock State Park would most likely be beautiful, so we stayed on 19 and were well-rewarded.

We didn’t hike much, just walked around finding the places I thought would be most beautiful.






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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley & Blackwater Falls

Since we’d had a cold snap after the rains, and since temps were supposed to start rising, we took Friday to travel to Blackwater Falls in hopes that the falls were frozen.

It hadn’t bee cold enough to freeze the falls completely, but there was still a fair amount of ice.


Why yes, I did ignore the “Closed” sign and went down the stairs.

For this view? It was worth it. (Plus, I was very careful.)




We also went down to Elakala Falls.


Let me be clear, the scramble down is never especially easy, but in the winter, especially after a lot of rain and then a snap freeze, the path is treacherous.


We wore Yaktrax, because I know very well how clumsy I am.

But it was well worth it.


Because it was already warming up, water was starting to trickle down the icicles.


We also went to Canaan Valley SP.


I mentioned that earlier we’d had rain and then a quick freeze earlier. I hadn’t quite thought about how that would affect this boggy, marshy area.

What happened is that the low areas flooded, and then froze. So any low-lying ground ended up covered in ice.


Normally we’ll walk out to the end of this bit of land, but the path was solid ice–and slippery. So we just looked (it wasn’t worth the view to pull out and put on the Yaktrax). It was pretty amazing.

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see that a layer of ice formed on the grass, several inches above the ground.


It was a wonderful day, and I’m glad we were able to get away to enjoy it.


Written by Michelle at 11:18 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hiking WV: End of 2017 Start of 2018

We ended 2017 with a hike and Coopers Rock, and began 2018 in the same way.

It was cold, but the days were beautiful so we had wonderful hikes!

Date: 2017-12-31
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Headwaters, Roadside Trails
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1874-2412 feet
Temperature: 11-14 F





Date: 2018-01-01
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Hemlock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 1620-1866 feet
Temperature: 8-10 F




Written by Michelle at 7:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of my favorite hikes. It’s very short, so it’s good for small kids, but you walk through different habitats and it’s just gorgeous.


This is the first time the Blackwater river has been frozen when we’ve hiked here.


This is the point at which someone went through the ice–and that someone was NOT me.


Picture taking had been curtailed after someone (NOT ME) got their lower leg wet. But I still got a couple shots I really liked.

Written by Michelle at 10:21 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

Friday was overcast and snowing, which was beautiful in its own way, but not very photogenic.

By Saturday afternoon, skies were clear and the sun was out. It was beautiful.



It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day with lovely company.

Written by Michelle at 10:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We went hiking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, that Sunday, and Sunday the 3rd. I forgot my camera for the first two hikes, and only pulled it out once when I did remember it.

The thing about the woods in fall is that it’s beautiful, but I can’t say it’s especially photogenic.

At Coopers Rock, unless you’re hiking Ravens Rock, pretty much every trail is down hill on your way out, and then uphill on your way out.

Here you’re at the bottom of the Rhododendron trail. Mont Chateau is off to your right. Henry Clay Iron Furnace, Clay Furnace Trail, Clay Run Trail, and Advanced Ski Trail are all behind you. Several of those trails have trails branching off of them, so you can make a variety of loops.

But it’s all going to be uphill from here, unless you go down to the lake. Then it’s even more uphill upon your return, unless you have someone to drive you back from the lake up the mountain to where you left your car.


Here is one of the two bridges by Henry Clay Iron furnace. This is the area where multiple streams meet to then run down to the lake. Going up most of the trails you can see the streams turn from running water to run off areas that are flowing only after a rain or when the snow melts.

But down here, there is always water.


And then leaves piled up in the stream.


I can spend, literally, hours wandering around these streams, building rock towers, knocking down leaf dams and moving sticks that are blocking the stream.

My excuse is that I want to keep the streams and run-off areas from backing up onto the trails, which makes them a muddy mess that is exacerbated by all the mountain bikes, but truly, I just like playing in the water.

Written by Michelle at 1:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

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.


And also because of this view.


Even this view:


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.




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.


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.


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



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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.




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.



The Blackwater River, meandering through Canaan Valley



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!


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


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


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:


A closer look–you can see Chimney Top.


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





I love the beauty of my state so very much.

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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.


Here is a view facing north and west.


Facing south.


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.


The rocks themselves are fascinating.


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


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.


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.


The view was marvelous.



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.


And here, some beautiful color.


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


A beautiful walk.

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