Wildflower destinations in West Virginia state parks and forests
Few things are as beautiful as springtime in Almost Heaven, when the first pastel blooms peek out from its wooded hillsides and grassy fields. The season’s mild temperatures make this an ideal time to take a stroll to see what wildflowers and flowering trees you can observe. But remember, please practice “leave no trace” and don’t pick the wildflowers. Take photos instead!
These West Virginia state parks and forests are a great starting point for your wildflower observations. Check with your park’s naturalist for additional recommendations.
Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park
With its picturesque overlooks of the Gauley River, Carnifex Ferry is a favorite destination for picnickers. Once the site of a famous Civil War battle, the park lights up with colorful wildflowers in the spring. The best place to view wildflowers here is along the Patterson Trail, a 2-mile loop around the park featuring three overlooks along the way. Trees and wildflowers in bloom may include red maple, redbud, dogwood, mountain magnolia, halberd-leaved violet, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild ginger, windflower, toothwort, spring beauty and pink lady slipper.
Chief Logan State Park
Spring wildflowers at Chief Logan include a variety of ephemerals that adorn the forest floor for a brief time in early April. The park also hosts an annual spring wildflower walk along the Woodpecker Trail, as well as easier strolls on the Fitness and Shawnee trails. The park is famous for its abundance of bluebells, but you’ll also find a huge diversity of flora, including bloodroot, trilliums, spring beauties, larkspur, anemones and saxifrage.
Blackwater Falls State Park
Set in the higher elevations of the Allegheny Mountains, Blackwater Falls is best known for its stunning waterfalls and towering stands of hemlock and spruce, but it also features a smattering of cheerful spring wildflowers. Visitors can expect to see regular spring wildflowers such as a variety of violets, bluets, and ragwort along roadsides, at Pendleton Lake and in the reduced mow pollinator areas throughout the park.
Watters Smith Memorial State Park
The pioneer homestead at Watters Smith is especially picturesque when the area is alit with spring blooms. Visitors will find an abundance of wildflowers along the banks of Duck Creek on Burr Smith Trail as well as along the Duck Creek Loops. Blooms along these trails include coltsfoot, bloodroot, bluets, dutchman’s breeches, golden ragwort, spring beauty, blue phlox, and several species of trillium and violets. But the flowers aren’t all that’s booming: Look for the fuchsia blossoms of redbud trees along White Oak Loop.
Kanawha State Forest
A number of challenging trails weave up and down the rocky hillsides of Kanawha State Forest, but you don’t need to climb a mountain to view the spring blooms here. For an easy stroll, look no further than the Spotted Salamander Trail, an ADA-approved nature trail that features interpretive signs along its paved loop. The first blood root has bloomed and the spotted salamanders have returned to the vernal pools to lay eggs, just in time for the forest’s annual wildflower walk that takes place in mid-April.
How many wildflowers can you spot? Snap some photos of your favorites and share using #WVStateParks. If you need help identifying the species, visit the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to download a free guide.
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