Archive for the ‘WV hiking’ Category

Davis, WV Perfect Any Time of Year

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Here’s a blog post by recent guests Todd, Carrie and Daniel Sechel who visited during one of our least snowy winters…and still found plenty to do and see. You can read more about this incredible traveling family and their worldwide adventures at thesechels.com. Below is their post from March 4, 2017, which proves once again that Davis, WV and the surrounding countryside is beautiful and interesting– every season!

 

We love West Virginia… the relaxed vibe, amazing natural beauty, and really nice people make West Virginia one of our favorite states to visit. Since childhood Todd and I have visited various spots in West Virginia to white-water-raft, hike, enjoy amazing nature, and relax, however we’ve always visited in the traditional peak season (for non-skiers)… June, July, and August. When we were considering routes back from Nags Head, North Carolina on our recent road trip, we remembered this little town in West Virginia that we fell in love with a few years ago… a few days later we were in Davis, West Virginia

So you might be wondering what the heck is in Davis, West Virginia… a state park with great hiking, scenery, and waterfalls, restaurants, breweries, and a fantastic little Inn, and a neighboring town a couple miles away with a funky arts scene. What follows are the details…

Nature and outdoors

Davis, West Virginia is the home of Blackwater Falls State Park… we originally visited Davis so Todd could photograph Blackwater Falls and Elakala Falls… we found that the State Park has a ton to offer…

If you’re a waterfall lover, Blackwater Falls State Park is a must-visit spot. Depending on the time of year and water level, there are many different waterfalls… Blackwater Falls and Elakala Falls are the largest.

In addition to the waterfalls, Blackwater Falls State Park has a number of hiking trails. Some of the trails are especially nice for families because they have shorter options (the short hike to Elakala Falls was one of the first hikes Daniel went on, and enjoyed, when he was 5).

Blackwater Falls State Park has a small lake and on our first visit we rented a rowboat and went fishing.

Our understanding is that when there’s snow Blackwater Falls State Park is a popular spot for cross country skiing and has a large sledding hill. Also, Canaan Valley Resort State Park, about 15 miles from Davis, offers downhill skiing in the winter.

Where to stay

There are multiple great lodging options from camping in the state park to motels to a fantastic B & B that we love…

Blackwater Falls State Park offers a lot… during our first visit to Davis a couple years ago we stayed in a cabin in the state park. We were really pleased with the cabin… a great location in the middle of nature, a small kitchen and living area, one bathroom, and two bedrooms. The state park also offers camping and rooms in the lodge. We didn’t see any rooms in the lodge, but did visit the lodge and understand that it offers traditional motel rooms, a restaurant that’s open all year, and an indoor pool.

During our first visit to Davis we went to Bright Morning Inn for breakfast (Bright Morning has a restaurant that’s open to the public for breakfast a few days a week) and fell in love. The people, food, and vibe were so great that we knew we’d visit again… when we decided to stop in Davis on our road trip we immediately booked the family suite at Bright Morning.

Bright Morning offers a variety of rooms for all different needs. The family suite has two bedrooms, which was perfect for us. The rooms at Bright Morning are very clean, comfortable, and have a cozy feel. We will definitely stay at Bright Morning again!

Great food

Confession… during our two visits to Davis we loved Bright Morning and Sirianni’s Pizza Café so much that we didn’t go anywhere else!

Bright Morning is open to the public for breakfast several days a week depending on the season. Currently, it’s open every day but Tuesday and Wednesday. Bright Morning serves a limited menu to Inn guests on the mornings it’s closed to the public. The full breakfast menu is extensive and includes something for every taste… pancakes, omelets, huevos Rancheros, local granola… I could go on and on…

Sirianni’s Pizza Café has excellent food and a fun and funky vibe. Todd and I both had Greek salads that were super fresh and delicious. Daniel had a pepperoni pizza that he loved and Todd and I had the veggie pizza. If you’re a veggie pizza lover, Sirianni’s is next level… it includes pretty much every veggie you can imagine including broccoli and zucchini.

Though we didn’t go to the other restaurants, we noted a number of options…

If you like breweries, there are 2 in Davis… Stumptown Ales, and Blackwater Brewing Co. Both offer food, but the Stumptown Ales’ menu is very limited. Mountain State Brewing Co. is located between Thomas and Davis.

Hellbender Burritos is a very popular spot… it will be on our list during our next visit!

If you’d like to venture out of Davis and drive a few miles down the street to Thomas, there are more options, including The Purple Fiddle and Tip Top Coffee. We stopped at Tip Top on our way out of town and loved the coffee… we noted that they also have a small bar and offer a number of food items.

Music and art

Susan, our host at Bright Morning, shared some great information about Davis and its neighboring town, Thomas… the towns each have their own vibe, but together offer a great mix of lodging, breweries, and restaurants (Davis), and arts and music (Thomas).

The Purple Fiddle, in Thomas, has live music multiple times a week. Susan noted that it’s a popular spot for bands to stop for a show while traveling between east coast and mid-west venues, and they get some well-known acts. Our understanding is that The Purple Fiddle is a family friendly venue, which is sometimes hard to find for live music lovers… we’re looking forward to seeing a show at The Purple Fiddle the next time we visit the area!

We didn’t have a chance to check out any of the shops or galleries in Thomas, but loved the art displayed in Tip Top when we stopped for coffee.

Getting there

Davis is about 5 hours south east of the Cleveland area. The drive is pretty straightforward for the first 4 hours (the turnpike and other freeways). The last hour is a beautiful drive through the winding roads and hills of West Virginia… probably more enjoyable for the passengers than the driver!

On this visit we came in from North Carolina… from the east almost the entire drive is on a new freeway. Our understanding is that the freeway will be connected to another point to the west and at some point the twisting and winding route from the west will no longer be necessary (although I prefer it!).

Wrapping it up

Davis, Thomas, and Blackwater Falls State Park are great places to visit no matter what time of year it is! We’ll be back!

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Dog in a Bog: Picking Cranberries near Canaan Valley

Friday, October 21st, 2016
pitcher-plants

Pitcher plants in Olson Bog filled with rainwater

dog-in-bog

Happy little dog laying in a bog

There are many reasons to visit West Virginia in the fall besides beautiful foliage. True, we have remarkable fall color here, which peaks early in the Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls area.

But for some of us, the most exciting part of fall isn’t the leaves, it’s the cranberries, and the beautiful bogs where they grow.

These photos were taken in an especially fine bog called Olson Bog, which is near one of the few remaining fire towers in the Monongahela Forest: Olson Tower

The tower provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the Cheat River watershed, Parsons, Blackwater Canyon, Canaan Mountain, Backbone Mountain and the Otter Creek Wilderness.

The tower offers spectacular views when the leaves are changing, though it’s the bog that’s the real treasure. It stretches out as a sea of fluffy cotton grass. Underneath, cranberries lay thickly, ripe for the picking by anyone with wading boots and a bucket. In between are clusters of maroon pitcher plants, which fill with rainwater, waiting for insects to fall in…and drown.

Hiking in a bog with a happy dog, picking cranberries in the quiet, is a delightful way to spend the final days of fall.

Ripe cranberries growing near Davis, Wv

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

nets

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.

Practicing the Art of Breakfast

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

The Bright Morning Inn is unique among local bed and breakfasts in that we have a restaurant that serves meals to the public. Serves breakfast. Only. And only from 7:30 to 11 am five days a week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). Obviously serving breakfast is important, but it’s not our core business, which is lodging.

That being said, we serve awesome breakfasts, artful breakfasts, with lots of variety. Because people are different and have different tastes. We get a lot of basic bacon and egg eaters here. And gravy and biscuit lovers. But we also get athletes, and healthy eaters and city foodies with refined tastes. Thankfully, we get mostly easy going people, who are needing fuel for hiking, biking and skiing, which is why they come here.

It’s hard to please all these different tastes, though we try, and we try, also, to support our local farmers. Most of these operations are small, and mostly they are labors of love–no one gets rich from a small vegetable farm or pig operation. Now that summer is coming we are starting to see the results of their labor. This weekend, for instance, we are serving a spicy chorizo burrito from Ben Neustadt’s New City pig farm. Imagine such a thing — pigs in Canaan Valley! And we have Scott Weaner’s luscious asparagus cooked with eggs and white cheddar cheese, too. Delicious!

We wish we could offer more local foods, but sometimes it’s too expensive. Plus, our seasons are short and most of the year we have to buy from the big food guys or we wouldn’t have any food at all. Still, when we can, we will try to serve some of this local food to you. It’s an honor and privilege to cook this way, and we know it’s appreciated by the compliments we get.

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Cobbler Season: Bumper Blackberry Crop Ahead!

Saturday, June 20th, 2015
blackberry shrub

Thick sprays of blackberry blossoms in early June. They’re everywhere!

Last year's blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Last year’s blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Picking blackberries each summer is one of the simple pleasures of living in Davis, WV. For many of us, walking dogs on the edge of town means checking out the progress of the amazing blackberries that grow here in such abundance. In early June, roads and trails are positively lined with blackberry stalks, each thick with blossoms. In July and August, when the berries ripen, mounds of bear scat appear on the trails. Bear love berries, and eat tons of them, but there are still plenty left for human picking.
This year’s crop appears bigger than usual, if that’s possible. An old timer once told me that as a child he and his cousin picked 98 GALLONS of blackberries one summer, for his uncle, who made wine.
I make cobbler, using a simple crust recipe from Mimi Kibler of La Fontaine Bakery. It was her mother’s. It’s perfect with ice cream and makes a nice supper (or breakfast) if you’re too tired to cook. It’s these simple pleasures that we appreciate living here on the edge of the great outdoors.

Blackberry Cobbler

Filling:

5 cups blackberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar

Crust:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix berries with cornstarch and sugar, add to 9” baking dish.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add egg to dry mixture and barely stir to combine. (Using fingers works best)
Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.
Drizzle with melted butter.
Sprinkle top with dash of cinnamon.
Bake 45 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.



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