Beat the winter blues with a visit to a West Virginia state park

Sunshine and exercise helps combat seasonal affective disorder

Winter can be a tough time for people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.

Shorter days mean less daylight. As a result, people tend to spend less time outdoors in winter. This decrease in exposure to sunlight may disrupt the body’s internal clock, triggering depression and fatigue.

Lucky for us, experts have determined that regular exercise and sunshine can help combat SAD. Take advantage of a long weekend or take some time off during the day and head to a West Virginia state park to beat the winter blues. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Hiking

There’s nothing like a brisk winter walk to awaken the senses and lift the spirits. At West Virginia state parks you can explore hundreds of miles of trails, from challenging climbs to flat paths—some of which are ADA accessible.

Chief Logan is just one of many state parks that offer naturalist-guided hikes where you can learn about local history, wildlife and more. Getting outside also presents the opportunity to experience the quiet beauty of your surroundings. Take in stunning views of the New River Gorge at Hawks Nest State Park or trek to frozen waterfalls at Holly River State Park.

Biking

Yes, you can bike in the winter—even in the snow! Bicycling magazine offers some helpful tips for winter cycling.

Mountain bikers in search of demanding single-track can find it at Coopers Rock State Forest, where riders are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the Cheat River Canyon. Farther south, Kanawha State Forest boasts more than 25 miles of steep descents and rolling hills just a short drive from the capital city. For an easier pedal on mostly flat terrain, head to the North Bend Rail Trail, which can be accessed from North Bend State Park.

Snow sports

Remember how excited you were to have a snow day off from school? Relive your childhood playing in the snow at these parks.

When snow falls in southern West Virginia, Pipestem Resort is the place to be. The park offers rentals on cross-country skis and sleds. Or head north to Canaan Valley Resort for an unbeatable experience skiing, snowboarding or tubing. (The park even has an outdoor ice-skating rink!) Just down the road at Blackwater Falls State Park, you can experience one of the longest and fastest sled runs in the east, then hop on the conveyor belt for a ride back to the top as you ready yourself for another exhilarating run.

Don’t let SAD get you down. West Virginia State Parks offers some great deals on winter lodging. Start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today!

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