Hiking Isn't The Only Way To Enjoy State Park Trails

Trickling waterfalls. Chirps and squeaks of wildlife scurrying by. The peaceful feeling that washes over you when you’re underneath a stand of old-growth trees. The natural setting of trails is one of the reasons why people all over the world love hiking so much. In fact, it’s the most popular activity at West Virginia’s state parks and forests.

Enjoying park trails isn’t limited to hikers, though. Here are two more ways you can enjoy park trails.

Trail Running

Maybe you’ve put a lot of miles on your hiking boots and are looking for something new. Perhaps you’re a runner who just needs a quiet place to log a couple of miles on the weekend. We all have something we’re searching for. More often than not, it can be found on the trail. So, start running. Not only is it good for your body, it’s a great way to destress and improve your mental health.

From easy loops to challenging climbs, West Virginia’s state parks have hundreds of miles of trails that are great for running. There’s the iconic trail to Lindy Point at Blackwater Falls State Park, which sits 3,000 feet above sea level and rewards you with a breathtaking view of the Blackwater Canyon. And there’s the rolling Falls Trail at Twin Falls Resort State Park, which takes you past two roaring waterfalls. Both incredible hikes on their own. And those views? Even more breathtaking after pushing yourself on a mile-long run.

To start trail running, you really don’t need any special equipment. Though, you’ll want to trade your hiking boots in for something that allows you to be quick on your feet, like a good pair of trail runners (both barefoot-style and thicker-soled shoes will work). We also suggest bringing a water bottle or hydration pack, putting on sunscreen and wearing weather-appropriate clothes that wick moisture away from your body so you stay dry and cool in the summer. If you want to go for a run in the winter, a wool base layer will help you stay dry and warm.

Most state park trails are open year-round, so now is a great time to get out there. Plan a trip today!

Mountain Biking

If you’re looking for a thrilling trail experience, this is it. With rugged terrain marked by screaming downhillers, hairpin switchbacks and challenging climbs, it’s no wonder the Mountain State is becoming such a popular mountain biking destination.

While nearly all hiking trails are suitable for running, there are only certain trails where mountain biking is permitted. Still, West Virginia’s parks are crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of some of the state’s best mountain biking trails. If you’re new to mountain biking, North Bend State Park is a great place to start. The park has 20 miles of single-track trails and connects to the 72-mile North Bend Rail Trail. If you live in the city, Kanawha State Forest is less than 20 minutes from Charleston and has 25 miles of intense mountain biking trails. If you live in the northern part of the state, Coopers Rock State Forest is just a short drive from Morgantown and features 50 miles of mountain biking trails. And Cacapon Resort State Park has six new mountain biking trails you definitely will want to check out.

Don’t have a mountain bike but want to try out this exciting sport? Check out the guided mountain bike tours at Pipestem Resort State Park, where you can rent a bike and explore the scenic Bluestone River.

Mountain biking can be enjoyed year-round but is best in the summer. Plan your trip today!

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Hike, Run, Bike: Be Considerate And Leave No Trace

Whether you’re a hiker, runner or mountain biker, be considerate of others, practice trail etiquette and always Leave No Trace.

Here’s a few more things to remember:

  • Stay on marked trails
  • Yield to uphill traffic
  • Keep to the right and pass on the left
  • Respect trail hierarchy: horseback riders have priority, followed by hikers and runners and then bikers.