Archive for September, 2016

New Canaan Valley Trail Map Gets You Out Where You Belong

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

It took months, maybe years, of hard work but the Heart of the Highlands Trail group recently completed a new trail map of Canaan Valley and its surroundings, and it’s a doozy!

The map detaiadmin-ajaxls all the important hiking, biking and skiing trails in the area, and gives valuable information about allowed uses, trail length and level of difficulty. The map brings together the many land agencies that control public access in the region. It includes the Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wilderness Areas, the Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area (formerly CVI), the Canaan Mountain Backcountry, both Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Parks, and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The map is detailed, waterproof and comprehensive. And at only $12.95 it’s a bargain, replacing an annoying handful of individual maps put out by the different agencies.

The map is now available at Blackwater Bikes, the Tucker Co. CVB, Bright Morning Inn, the Canaan Valley and Blackwater State Parks and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Visitor’s Center.

 

28th Annual Leaf Peeper’s Festival 2016 this Weekend

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

fall-window-boxWith days in the 70’s, nights in the 50’s, this weekend is shaping up to be spectacular for our town’s annual Leaf Peeper’s Festival.

Now in its 28th year, the festival includes a Fireman’s Parade Friday evening, Inflatable Rides all weekend, Food & Craft Fair Saturday and Sunday, a 5k/2k Run/Walk on Saturday, Oktoberfest and Live Music on Saturday, Car Show and Golf Tournament on Sunday and more.

At the Bright Morning Inn our cafe celebrates the weekend by serving Pumpkin Pancakes, arguably the best pancake of all. Fluffy and spicy and strewn with walnuts, they are covered in a warm maple butter sauce that’s…almost heaven. A fitting way to celebrate the beginning of fall in our beautiful West Virginia mountains!

For more information about the festival visit canaanvalley.org or click here to download a festival schedule.

Finding Your Way in Dolly Sods

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia's Dolly Sods Wilderness

Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness

Most of the trails within West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness are well worn and easily followed. For years the area has been popular with hikers and backpackers, and for good reason: it’s scenic, peaceful and amazingly wild considering it’s only a few hours from Washington, DC and other major cities.

But there are times when even well-marked trails there can be perplexing, and even experienced hikers can get turned around. Believe me, when hiking in Dolly Sods, being a little cautious isn’t a bad thing.

Seasoned hikers know how to mark their route so they can find their way back. A friend of mine used to leave little stick arrows along his route in case he needed to backtrack. And he was a woodsman who had lived in wild places all over the world.

Not everyone who visits the Sods these days is a seasoned hiker. The new road, Route 48 (Corridor H), is bringing more people to our area every year. Many of them are coming to explore the cultural attractions in nearby Davis and Thomas. Some are experiencing wilderness for the first time. These people need help any way they can get it.

Fortunately, throughout the Sods, thoughtful hikers have created stone cairns to guide you at decision points along the trail. It’s an old tradition. The little sandstone stacks are pleasantly sculptural, and when you are lost, they are beautiful sights indeed.

Not everyone likes the cairns. Some think that if you need to follow a cairn you have no business hiking in a wilderness area. Others hate seeing any sort of man-made thing in such a wild place and consider them graffiti of sorts. (Note to some cairn builders: these really aren’t sculptures, they’re built to give direction, not decorate — and in the wrong place they can cause confusion!)

I get what the critics say, but I still love the cairns. At their best, they are beacons left by someone who thought enough of others to mark the way ahead, simple kindnesses left for strangers. Who could argue with that?

Dolly Sods: It Really is For the Birds

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
It's a long lonely road to the bird banding station...but it's worth it

It’s a long lonely road to the bird banding station…but it’s worth it

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Fine mist nets strung along the Allegheny Front capture migrating birds

Every year in late summer during peak bird migration season the Allegheny Front Migration Observatory comes to life in the scenic Dolly Sods Wilderness. Staffed completely by volunteers, the AFMO is the longest continually operating bird banding station in the United States.

The Allegheny Front in West Virginia sits right in the middle of a major north/south “flyway” and is perfect for capturing birds harmlessly in mist nets, banding them, and sending them on there way. The birds counts are used by various wildlife agencies to track species and numbers of songbirds and raptors from Canada to South America.

Banding activity takes place every day from dawn until noon, though the most activity occurs in the early hours. This year the station closes in early October. To get to the station, take FS 19 to 75, about 8 miles up the lonely gravel road that runs through Dolly Sods. It is located across the road from the Red Creek Campground and the entrance to Blackbird Knob Trail.

If you’ve never been to the Dolly Sods before you may wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of the road. You will. It ends at Bear Rocks, a vast open heath with fantastic rock formations along the Allegheny Front. It’s an amazing site, one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. And a stop at the bird migration station will make the trip even more memorable.



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