Random (but not really)

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, 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 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Tea Creek Wilderness

We hadn’t been back to the Cranberry area but once since last year’s flooding, so it was beyond time we went back.

We now have a new place we need to spend more time hiking.

Location: Tea Creek Wilderness
Trail: Tea Creek Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 3579-3022 feet (557 feet)
Temperature: 70-72 F

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Remains of the old railbed.

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We are definitely coming back here to hike.

The only downside is that the restaurant we usually stopped back coming back from Cranberry was destroyed in the flooding. Any restaurant recommendations in the Richwood area? (Or between Richwood and Summersville?)

Written by Michelle at 9:24 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Almost One Year Out from the Flooding

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the devastating flooding that his a good portion of WV. One of the areas that was badly hit was Richwood, which was flooded by the Cherry River.

As we drive through yesterday, there are still condemned buildings standing waiting to be torn down. There are still homes that are lived in that remain in serious disrepair (some of that existed before the flooding). I didn’t take any pictures of this, because it felt like gawking, and invading the privacy of an area that has already suffered enough.

That said, there was also obvious evidence of rebuilding, and the road was in good repair, but still it’s heart-rending to see the continued struggle of the people in this area.

We hiked above the Cranberry Wilderness which is upstream of Richwood. Please keep that in mind for these pictures one year out of the flooding.

Here is how part of the trail looked–I took this picture because you can see the old railroad ties–much of this trail is on an old logging track. Other areas were a more narrow path with high vegetation on either side of the trail.

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Here are parts of the trail that were flooded / washed out:

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Take a close look at the debris in the above picture. Notice anything? It wasn’t until we were coming back down the mountain that I realized I saw no human trash–just tumbled trees and stones and branches.

That was the one nice thing I took out of the flood damage. That in the woods, those who hike and use the paths keep the area clean of trash and human debris.

You could hardly tell there had one been a bridge here. And we saw no signs of the bridge or human-hewn boards in the area.

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Another washed out bridge. This is at the head of where several different trails branch out. You had to ford the stream to cross here, which might not be doable after a heavy rain.

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So that’s how things looked in the Richwood / Cranberry Wilderness area just under a year out from the flooding.

Something to consider.

Written by Michelle at 9:06 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Traveling WV: Spruce Knob

Spruce Knob is the highest point in WV. We generally wander up here after visiting Seneca Rocks. Sometimes there is snow, but yesterday it was just windy and chilly.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Creek Backcountry

Since I had two different maps, we decided to tempt fate (and ignore the murderous GPS) and take a different way down from Spruce Knob.

We did NOT get lost, and we found a gorgeous trail to hike.

Location: Seneca Creek Backcountry
Trail: Elza Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3169-3982 feet (813 feet)
Uphill Grade: 10.6%

We didn’t hike the whole trail, because I decided I was done with uphill for the day. So we reached the point of being tired (and hungry) and then turned around and hiked back down.

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It was one of the nicest hikes we’ve taken in months, despite being all uphill. We crossed one creek, and then hiked up the mountain beside another. Despite being the Friday for memorial day (and seeing zillions of tents and campers setting up for the weekend) we didn’t pass anyone along the trail, and all we heard was the wind and the creek.

It was a restful, lovely, hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV (and Maintaining the Light): Seneca Rocks

As we have done for the past four years, we again hiked up Seneca Rocks to remember my cousin Ben on his birthday. And because we’re remembering Ben, we do the hike up without stopping, going as fast as we are able. Because that is how Ben would do it.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 2484-1582 feet (902)
Temperature: 58 F

Hike up (starting from the sign @ bridge)
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation: 1587-2446 feet (859 feet)
Grade: 11.7 %
Time: 35 minutes

Last year, starting from Roy Gap Road (which was impassible this year) we took 40 minutes.

At the top, wearing my Maintain the Light shirt. (Which I took off right after, because it is heavy 100% cotton and HOT to hike in. I am only willing to suffer so much.) The crag is up and behind me. Because of the rain, we were more cautious than normal scrambling up there.

Happy Birthday Ben.   Once again we hiked straight up without stopping in your memory.

I do mean impassible. We have had a lot of rain this year, and a lot of rain leading up to our hike yesterday. (It even drizzled a bit on us at the top.)

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Seneca Rocks was used by the 13th Corps Mountaineers for Combat Assault training during WWII. I wonder if this is left from that time? (The rest of the WWII combat training done in the area was less benign, leaving UXO in many areas that eventually became Wilderness areas.)

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The view across the top of the crag looking south. The weather had cleared just a bit while we were up there.

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The rocks at the top of the crag.

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Looking SSW past some of the rhododendron growing along the wider edge of the crag.

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Here is part of the view, looking SSW, from as far up the crag as I was willing to scramble. (I’m not proud. I mostly butt-scootch up there. I know myself.)

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Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Although last week’s snow is gone, it was a clear, beautiful day at New Rover Gorge.

We spent a good deal of time poking around Wolf Creek. One area was easy to get to, the other–less so.

Location: New River Gorge: Canyon Rim Area
Trails: Timber Ridge, Long Point, Fayetteville, Park Loop Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1784-2151 feet
Temperature: 34F

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Map of the Hike.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hiking WV: Cranberry Backcountry

We’d discussed hiking in the Cranberry Wilderness, but I’d wanted to visit the Nature Center, since it closes mid-October. To get to the trails we’d considered, we’d have had to either back-track to Richwood, or take the Highland Scenic Highway all the way around the wilderness, so we instead decided to walk on the forest road past the boardwalk and see where that took us.

We took the North Fork trail up to the Kennison Mountain trail and then turned around and came back down.

Location: Cranberry Backcountry
Trail: North Fork Trail
Distance: 5.0 miles
Elevation: 3380-4113 feet (Average 5.6% grade)

There were a couple of steepish sections, but mostly it was a (relatively) gradual uphill hike (gradual for WV mind you).

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oops

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The lower portion of the trail meandered across several creeks, most of which were flowing from the previous night’s rain.

It was really really pretty.

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If you’re looking to hike in more solitude than you’ll find in busier parks and forests (like our local forest, Coopers Rock) then I cannot recommend highly enough visiting the Cranberry Wilderness.

Written by Michelle at 10:02 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Cranberry Glades

Cranberry Glades Botanical area is a short boardwalk that allows you to see a variety of plants, some of which are found only in this area.

Location: Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
Trail: Cranberry Glades Boardwalk
Distance: 0.6 mile
Elevation: 3383-3419 feet

Unlike the Falls of Hills Creek, the boardwalk here is flat and handicapped accessible.

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Pitcher plant

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The start of the boardwalk is is along the open area, but it quicly turns into the bog, where the vegetation is more closed in, and you cross Yew creek multiple times. (This is cause for multiple repetitions of “Yew again!” because we are horrible people.)

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Written by Michelle at 9:43 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Falls of Hills Creek

Location: Falls of Hills Creek
Trail: Falls Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation: 3235-3519 feet (9.1% grade)

Don’t walk this trail unless you like stairs. Lots of them. We got 31 flights of stairs coming back up from the lower falls. And if it’s at all wet, be cautious, because the boardwalk is slippery.

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The Lower Falls

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The Middle Falls

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This is the first time we visited at (near) midday, where all the falls had some sunlight.

Written by Michelle at 9:29 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

We had a visitor!

So since it fit into other things we wanted to do, we took her to New River Gorge and hiked out to Longpoint for the view!

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Longpoint Trail
Distance: 3.0 miles
Elevation: 1776-2049 feet

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This is a nice hike because it’s not long, it’s not especially steep, and it has a gorgeous view for minimal effort.

Written by Michelle at 8:03 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

We hiked three places in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge: The Freeland Boardwalk, The Beall Trail South, and what I think was the Camp 70 loop

The Freeland Boardwalk is highly recommend for kids–there is a brochure that tells you about different areas on the boardwalk. A pretty good diversity of habitats, including and attempt to regrow Balsam Fir.

Location: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Trails: Freeland Boardwalk, Beall Trail South, Camp 70 Trail (?)
Distance: 0.45, 2.2, ?
Elevation: 3243-3262, 3217-3421, ?

Freeland Boardwalk

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Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

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Written by Michelle at 6:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We took some of the kids up to Dolly Sods, where the blueberries were in fruit.

We didn’t hike much, and blueberry pancakes were made for breakfast the next day (I didn’t get any!)

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Written by Michelle at 5:36 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Family,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

Every time we go to Cranberry Glades, I say, “we really need to come back here and hike more” so Saturday we finally did.

It was a gorgeous hike, and we ARE going to go back and hike more. We actually had a hike where we didn’t see anyone else the whole hike (although there were other people in the area, mostly visiting the Nature Center and driving along the Highland Scenic Highway).

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Forks of Cranberry Trail
Distance: 6.1 miles
Elevation: 4190-4684 feet (0.2% grade)

Looking out over the Cranberry Wilderness.

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A section of the Forks of the Cranberry Trail.

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Elephant Rocks

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One of today's views

If you’re looking for some solitude that you can’t always find at other state and national parks/forests, I highly recommend visiting the Cranberry Wilderness.

—-

I’m going to start adding another bit here, which is where we stopped to eat (if we enjoyed our meal). This is both for anyone visiting the area looking for a place to eat, AND for us, so we stop having the discussion, “What was that place we stopped to eat around here? I really liked it.”

Dinner:
Mumsey’s Iron Skillet
761 Richwood Rd
Richwood, WV 26261
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

I had the Southern Fried Chicken and it was very delicious.

Written by Michelle at 10:54 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hiking WV: New River Gorge: Glade Creek

To escape the cicadas, we headed south to the New River Gorge area, which is free of this brood. It was hot, but it was good to be outdoors, and to not be bombarded by cicadas.

We chose the southern terminus for our hike which we shan’t do again, as we had trouble getting out, since the road was steep and narrow, with loose gravel in the steepest parts. (We’ll head to the north terminus next time.)

The hike itself was very easy, as it is an abandoned railroad bed, and beautiful, since it is along Glade Creek.

Location: New River Gorge
Trails: Glade Creek, Kates Falls Trails
Distance: 5.3 miles (partial)
Elevation: 1853 – 2145 feet (1% grade)

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Here is the I64 bridge that goes over Glade Creek near the start of the trail.

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Written by Michelle at 9:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We did two hikes at Dolly Sods: a short evening hike around sunset and then a longer hike the next morning. Both were along the Rocky Ridge Trail, but in opposite directions.

Location: Dolly Sods
Date: 2016-05-26
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 3940-4175 feet
Grade: 0.2%

Date: 2016-05-27
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 3965-4184 feet
Average Grade: 0.5%

Here is our sunset hike, and yes it WAS that gorgeous.

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And here was our hike the next morning. Very different, but even more beautiful.

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Written by Michelle at 5:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Spruce Knob

This wasn’t much of a hike, but it was beautiful.

Spruce Knob is the highest peak in WV, and as it’s in a rural area (what you see when you look out is forests and the occasional farm.

Location: Spruce Knob
Distance: .85 miles
Elevation: 4,827-4,859 ft
Grade: 0.2% (included two-story observation tower)

Location: Spruce Knob Lake
Distance: 1.19 miles
Elevation: 3,838-3,870 ft

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We also stopped at Spruce Knob Lake.

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Written by Michelle at 9:21 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Maintain the Light: Up Seneca Rocks in Memory of Ben

To remember my cousin Ben, on his birthday we hike up to the top of Seneca Rocks. And because we’re doing it in memory of Ben, we go up without stopping. (Stopping is allowed on the way back down, as is resting once the summit has been reached.)

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation: 1393-2468 feet (11% grade)
Average Speed Hiking Up: 2.3 mph

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From the top of Seneca Rocks

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Written by Michelle at 9:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods is a fascinating place with a fascinating history. Despite the high elevation, it was initially farmed, until a fire wiped everything out. Then, during WWII, it was used as a test bombing range (nearby Seneca Rocks was used to train soldiers who might be fighting in the Alps).

Then it was allowed to go wild, and was eventually designated a national wilderness area.

And yes, there are signs about possible UXO at Dolly Sods.

When you hike there, you’d never know it was ever anything except a wilderness.

It’s an amazing and beautiful place.

Location: Dolly Sods Wilderness
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles
Elevation: 3987-4192 feet

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Written by Michelle at 8:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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