WV state parks have plenty of wide open spaces. Here's 5 ways you can enjoy them.

When schools are closed or you just want to avoid the hustle and bustle of life, West Virginia’s state parks are a great place to visit. This time of year, state parks are starting to transition from winter to spring, which means there aren’t any crowds to distract you while you enjoy the freedom of hiking and exploring wide open spaces.

So, if you want to get the kids out for a change of scenery or need some alone time to lower your stress levels, get out there, breathe the fresh mountain air and let the wide open spaces at a state park center and calm you. Here’s five ways you can do it.

Hike your favorite trail

The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to turn off your phone for an afternoon, head for the woods and hike your favorite trail. Good exercise, fresh air and beautiful scenery will help you take your mind off the world and relax.

From easy loops to challenging climbs, there’s more than 1,200 miles of trails at state parks for you to hike. And this is a great time for you to join our self-paced hiking program or accomplish that hiking challenge you made at the start of the year.

Explore nature

There are two kinds of hikers in this world: those who follow the path laid out before and those who aren’t afraid to find their own trail and get a little bit closer to nature. Both are guided by a sense of exploration and state parks are one of the best places to discover your place in the world.

As you hike through the woods at a state park, keep an eye out for budding wildflowers, birds readying their nests and other wildlife emerging from the deep forest in search of food and companionship. And channel the pioneers and adventures of old by bringing a journal to log your findings.

Go fishing

Few things in this world let you experience the emotional extremes of the outdoors quite like fishing. First you feel the calm as the soothing sound of rushing mountain streams lulls you into a state of relaxation. Then comes a surge of adrenaline as you feel a tug at the end of your line.

Lakes and streams at state parks are regularly stocked with trout during the spring, so now is a perfect time to go fishing. Bring the family along and teach your kids how to cast and maybe they’ll reel in their first catch. Just don’t forget to get your fishing license and trout stamp.

Search for geocaches

We encourage folks to ditch their phones when they visit a state park so they can fully enjoy the majesty and beauty of nature. But your phone can actually enhance your time outside if you know when and where to use it.

So, grab your phone and take the kids to a local park for an exciting treasure-hunting game, known as geocaching. This adventure game requires a GPS-equipped phone to find geocache locations by coordinates. Buried treasures often include coins or medallions, toys or ornamental items. Once a geocache is discovered, log your find and leave behind something for the next person to unearth.

Look for wildflowers

With spring setting in around the Mountain State, now is a perfect time to take a hike through a state park and look for colorful wildflowers. From the yellow fawn lily to the eastern red columbine and common blue violet, hiking trails and forest floors are erupting in a display of spring color.

As you discover patches of delicate wildflowers during you adventures, take a moment to reflect on the beauty of life. Wildflowers rise up each spring, fade away in the summer and lie dormant during the fall and winter, but they always come back and bring with them the promise of brighter and warmer days.

Don’t let the beauty of early spring pass you by. Get out there, enjoy it and plan a trip today.

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