Random (but not really)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Traveling WV: Paw Paw Tunnel

Technically, this is in Maryland.

But it is labelled the Paw Paw tunnel, and Paw Paw is in WV.

I can’t believe we’d never been there before.

When building the C&O canal, they were in a race against the completion of rail lines, so they decided the it would be easier to build a tunnel than to follow the river (understandable really, because the river is really twisty and the riverbanks weren’t necessarily good for canal building).

It’s pretty impressive.

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We totally counted all markers and found the four markers for shafts.

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Oops.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Maryland,National Park / Forest,Photos  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

Since the weather was forecast to be nice, and Michael had the day off, Saturday we decided to head down to Seneca Rocks, in hopes of catch some fall color.

The weather was lovely, but there was a distinct lack of fall color.

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Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles
Elevation: 1573-2520 feet (1003 ft rise)

Hike Up
1.2 miles
1611-2446 feet
33 minutes

It doesn’t look like there’s that much water going over the bridge!

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Guess who had wet feet for this hike?

One of the reasons I wanted to make this hike on a Friday and not Saturday is that it tends to be really busy on Saturdays, and I selfishly prefer solitude when at the top of the rocks.

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Written by Michelle at 7:10 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

After a week of rain, Saturday was clear, so we headed to the Cranberry Wilderness, which has become one of my favorite places, since it is far less visited that most other spots in WV.

We hiked two shorter trails, wanting the views as much as the hiking.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Red Spruce Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 4386-4722 feet (420 ft gain)

Is that… a bear track? (Click through to Flickr for a comparison picture.)

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The trail at the top of the mountain was unbelievably gorgeous. Look at that! So beautiful!

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Because Red Spruce Knob is the highest peak in the area, there was a fire tower here at one point. That tower is long gone, and most of the overlook is overgrown.

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Still worth the hike.

Trail: High Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 4312-4507 feet (471 ft gain)

The trail to High Rocks was possibly one of the easiest we’ve ever hiked in the Mon Nat’l Forest. We kept waiting for it to get super muddy or terribly rocky or ridiculously steep; Nope. It was a very easy hike.

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It was a ridiculously easy hike, for the view at the end.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

Since we had a long weekend and didn’t have to drive, we wanted to do a long hike on Friday.

There are so many places to choose from in the Canaan Valley area, but we eventually settled on Dolly Sods, and a trail we’d wanted to hike before, in the hopes that it being a Friday morning we wouldn’t see so many people.

We saw… fewer people than we would on a Saturday, but we still saw more people than I particularly wanted to on a hike in the wilderness.

Location: Dolly Sods Wilderness
Trails: Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob Trails
Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation: 3757-4184 feet (1137 feet gain)

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Blackbird Knob Trail

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Yes, the trail really is that rocky and wet and muddy. So many people hike Dolly Sods that everything is very worn and never gets a chance to recover.

Despite the wilderness being busier than one would expect, views like this make the trip worth it.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Wildlife Refuge

We did two hikes at the Canaan Wildlife Refuge. A hike along the Beale Trail that’d we’d done before, but chose because it was easy, because it was raining.

The first hike was new to us, partway up Cabin Mountain. We considered hiking to the top of the trail, but were afraid it’d be dark on the way down, and I’d trip over everything.

Location: Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge
Trails: Middle Ridge and Sand Run Trails
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation: 3246-3571 feet (597 ft gain)

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Is that… a bridge?

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Yes! A completely useless bridge!

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Michael: They need to mow this bridge.

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All kidding aside, it was a nice, if rather steep hike, and I definitely want to hike up to the top of the Cabin Mountain Trial to see the view.

Location: Canaan Wildlife Refuge
Trail: Beall Trails
Distance: ~3 miles (I forgot to turn on the GPS until half a mile in)
Elevation: 3151-3375 feet

It’s raining. Where shall we hike? A bog of course!

At the Bog Overlook

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Written by Michelle at 6:53 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge, Grandview Area

Forecasts around the state were calling for a possibility of rain and thunderstorms, so we headed south to New River Gorge. It’s been awhile since we were at the Grandview area, and I’ve wanted to hike the Glade Creek trail.

On the way, after looking at the maps, I decided we should take the Little Laurel trail up the Grandview proper.

Here’s the sandbar area. We saw kayakers and rafters go by but mostly it was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon.

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Location: New River Gorge
Trails: Little Laurel, Grandview Rim Trails
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: 1305-2596 ft (1466 ft rise)

Little Laurel Trail
2.5 miles
1480-2539 feet
It took us just over an hour to hike up.

The maps we had said the Little Laurel trail was 2 miles. According to my GPS, from one sign to the other the trail was 2 1/2 miles and 1000 feet elevation rise.

Start HERE. At the BOTTOM. At Glade Creek Road near sandbar area.

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This is NOT readily accessible from the main portion of the Grandview area. It’s a 2 1/2 mile hike from one area to the other, but it’s an 22 mile drive and that 34 minutes is almost certainly a lie.

Here’s the drive:

Here’s the hike. (View both in Satellite mode to see the comparison more easily.)

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Here’s the top. If you’re starting here… Don’t. Unless you like the second half of your hike to be 100% uphill.

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I’m not quite sure what this tree is doing, but I am impressed.

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And here’s why you want to hike or drive here.

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Written by Michelle at 5:51 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hiking WV: Tea Creek

I absolutely adore the Cranberry / Tea Creek Wilderness areas. They’re beautiful and they are usually not a lot of people there.

The trail we chose yesterday was along Tea Creek itself, so we saw lots of people fishing, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment (probably because there were no mountain bikes and everyone looked happy).

Location: Tea Creek Wilderness
Trail: Tea Creek Trail
Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation: 3009-3569 feet (756 gain)

Signs your trail might be on an old rail bed.

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The light was lovely, so I took a picture of two other people out on the creek.

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Cascades

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Backcountry

Michael had a long and busy week at work, so we didn’t want to go too far afield. Davis is a relatively easy drive, so we hiked the Canaan Mountain Backcountry, out of Blackwater Falls.

It was gorgeous. No scenic views or water falls, just a lovely hike.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trails: Davis, Plantation Trails
Distance: 7.0 miles
Elevation: 3236-3615 feet (808 feet rise)

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Backcountry

More heat in Morgantown, so we headed south to Canaan. We hadn’t hiked the wilderness since last fall, so that was where I wanted to go.

Beautiful, and much cooler than up north. We did the southern portion of the Lindy Run trail–the northern portion is no longer maintained; I’d like to hike it in the future, because it was quite lovely.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trails: Fire Trail 6, Plantation, Lindy Run Trails
Distance: 3.8 miles
Elevation: 3534-3716 feet
Temperature: 78-81 F

Trails: Table Rock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 3374-3471 feet

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Written by Michelle at 2:10 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

I was craving some solitude, so we headed to the Cranberry Wilderness where there were few people AND the temperatures ranged from 66-70F.

It was SO LOVELY.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Black Mountain Trail
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 4236-4643 feet
Temperature: 67-69 F

Cranberry Overlook

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Cranberry Wilderness

Rhododendron (The WV State Flower!)

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Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus cornicilatus)

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Sweet clover (Melilotus)

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Coreopsis (Tickseed)

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Written by Michelle at 10:55 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,National Park / Forest,Photos  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

This hike in and of itself isn’t one of my favorites–it’s muddy, it’s busy, the trail is in bad repair, and there is very little shade.

That said, it has one of my favorite views, which is why we went out on it.

But seriously, the Dolly Sods Wilderness may not be developed, but except in winter, I see tons and tons of people there on my hikes. On the one hand, I’m glad people are enjoying the wilderness. On the other hand, I no longer go to Dolly Sods expecting solitude.

Location: Dolly Sods Wilderness
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail (partial)
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 4014-4198 feet

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Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

It’d been awhile since we hiked up Seneca Rocks on a weekend day.

It was ridiculously busy. Which is good, because it means people were spending the weekend doing outdoors things here in WV. But less good for someone who likes solitude.

On the plus side, the homestead was open, and they had extra items on display, including many old quilts.

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Click through for other pictures of the quilt.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Traveling WV: Thurmond

Thurmond, WV used to be a coal town and rail hub, and trains still run regularly through the area.

The population of Thurman at the last census was five, and most of the land in the area belongs to either CSX or the National Park Service, the latter of which has been attempting to preserve the remaining buildings.

Former National Bank of Thurmond

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Thurmond Post Office, closed in 1995

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Coaling Tower

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Ruins being taken back by the woods.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Since it’d been awhile, we headed to New River Gorge, and went to one of the (many) areas we hadn’t hiked before: the Thurmond area.

We first went to see the town of Thurmond (separate post) which has been all but a ghost town for decades (the post office closed in 1995). Then we took our hike. We chose the Stone Cliff Trail, when runs beside the New River for its length.

What was particularly nice was that aside from the day-use area and the very start of the trail, we didn’t see anyone and had the trail to ourselves. We hiked 2 1/4 miles out–close to the end–but then I noticed that it was already 3, and we still had to stop at the brewery and eat dinner and then drive home, so we turned around and headed back.

Location: New River Gorge, Thurmond
Trail: Stone Cliff Trail (partial)
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 980-1253 feet
Temperature: 83-85 F

Because the trail runs beside the river it is quite flat, and thus an easy hike.

Stream tumbling down the mountainside

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Stream crossing

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon

You would think that a trail called the Canyon Rim Trail would have lots of views of the Blackwater Canyon.

You would be mistaken.

That doesn’t make this a bad trail, and there are views at either end: the Olsen Fire Tower at the Western end, and along the Allegheny Trail at the Eastern terminus.

The trail itself is part of the Allegheny Trail, which you can take through WV. It also means this trail is getting some extensive maintenance right now, to shore up sections that have become muddy messes.

Location: Monongahela National Forest
Trail: Canyon Rim Trail
Distance: 6.6 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3162-3705 feet (994 feet gain)

Along the trail, this is as good a view as you get. And once the leaves are out, it’ll be even less.

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It was a little steep in a couple of places, and rocky and muddy in other places, but it isn’t a difficult hike for anyone who is in shape.

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You get to cross several streams, one of which has a “Stone Bridge”. Most of the crossings should not be problematic unless the water is extremely high or flash flooding.

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But in addition to the very pretty creek crossings, if you do a little searching you can find the falls, which were absolutely lovely.

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This is where we sat and ate our lunch, and then clambered around on the rocks.

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And here’s the elevation graph of the hike.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

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.

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Charles Creek

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

Hiking WV: Cranberry Glades

Since it’s only a half mile, we always walk the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk when we are in the area. Because it’s the end of the winter, the boardwalk is in need of repair–if you need an accessible route, wait until spring when the forest service has been out to repair sections of the boardwalk.

The start of the trail follows the edge of the glade.

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I was surprised to see the pitcher plants coming up through the snow all along the boardwalk.

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Normally the underbrush is so thick you can’t see the bog, but at the end of the winter all the grasses are eaten are have died down and you can clearly see the boggy areas.

Beautiful!

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Written by Michelle at 8:38 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: 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

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Hills Creek

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Middle Falls

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Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hiking WV: Dolly 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Written by Michelle at 8:53 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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