Some West Virginia state parks and other sights of interest

Jane and I just got back from a two-week camper van trip to West Virginia, where there are many good state parks, state forests and national parks. They're concentrated around the New River Gorge and the Allegheny mountains. For us, a "good" park means several hiking trails (preferably loops of three miles or less), campground toilets, reasonably flat campsites, and smallish. Extra credit for quiet and dark at night.

West Virginia also has a few resort state parks with golf courses. They seem well managed, but not our cup of tea. The parks we visited were Camp Creek, Babcock, Watoga, Seneca Forest. The last two nights we spent at Douthat State Park in Virginia, a sweet, vintage place with lots of hikes. (White Oak is our favorite campground there.) Camp sites in state parks cost between $20 and $30 per night. Campgrounds can be crowded on weekends and during leaf weeks. It's already past fall in the mountains.

West Virginia parks do better than parks in surrounding states in many ways. Trail signage is better than average and trails are super well-maintained. Bath and toilet facilities are in decent repair. Nothing glamorous, but certainly functional.

Politically, there are a fair number of proud Deplorables in local towns, but parks themselves tend to be agnostic. That said, park-goers are all socialists, aren't we? The back window of our van says RESIST.

Trail maps in most parks are terrible, West Virginia included. Typically they're photo copies of photo copies of photo copies. That makes it easier to get lost. We didn't see a lot of hikers during the week.

One super cool stop we made on this fall trip was at the Green Bank Radio Telescope near the town of Cass. It's the largest radio telescope in the world, thanks in large part to Senator Robert Byrd, the legendary Democrat from West Virginia. Byrd would be the perfect antidote to Trump if he were still with us.

We'd like to go camping more in North Carolina, but we've pretty much exhausted what's available. The park pickings seem slim given our amazing natural resources. Our favorite is Stone Mountain, we also like Medoc Mountain, near Halifax. I'll write about North Carolina an other states later.

By the by, going away for a couple of weeks and unplugging from regular Trumpdates is a good idea. The only thing I missed was the chance to watch America edge a few steps closer to the brink of disaster, thanks in full to the complete absence of honor on the part of Congressional Republicans. Some things never change.



Robert Byrd, Jesse Helms, Thom Tillis

I want to believe that Helms would be ready to take Trump down for his many insults to human decency. Same for Robert Byrd, who happens to have the Green Bank telescope named after him.

:Now think of what legacy a guy like Thom Tillis will have. One of these days, a picture of Tillis will be like a picture of one of Hitler's stooges. a useful idiot in driving our country off the rails.

Thanks for this

I'm about ready to get some hiking in myself. When I can walk to my mailbox several days in a row without running into spider webs, that's my signal it's time to get out there. It's not just the spiders, it also means the mosquitoes are just about done for the year, too. ;)

I also agree wholeheartedly about the 3 mile loop thing. Some days I can walk all day without hitting my limit, but those days are farther between than they used to be.

I'll be 70 next year.

Hard climbing on steep trails kills my lower back, but I can do three miles before the pain kicks in.

By the way, it's easy and quick to get to West Virginia parks. You can be at the New River Gorge in about three hours from Gibsonville. A pretty drive to a beautiful place. About as far as Nags Head!

I drove my mom up there

a few years ago, to meet my sister (and nephew) after they white water rafted. It was gorgeous, and I tried to talk them into staying an extra day or two. But they were exhausted after the River.

You're right, that was a short trip. Took 52 at Winston-Salem up to 77, we got there before they came out of the River.