We had such a wonderful time on our first West Virginia Very Important Park Person (WVVIPP) Road Trip, we jumped in the vehicle and headed South. This time we will not be as spontaneous on our trip. But, to highlight a few Parks we have already visited and to take the opportunity to visit a few we have never seen.
The first Park on our list is Hawks Nest State Park. Hawks Nest, named after the Fish Hawks that once lived along the cliffs of the New River Gorge, provides beautiful panoramic views of the New River Gorge year round. They have a 31 room lodge, restaurant, and tram system that takes you to the bottom of the gorge where you can obtain a ticket for a jet boat ride that takes you for a beautiful view of the New River Gorge Bridge. Don’t let the wording of “Jet Boat” scare you. It is a very gentle and slow ride. The tram on the other hand, not so gentle.
We were not able to find the WVVIPP box located at this Park. But, the front desk receptionist said they keep a stamper here in the lodge. Just walk in and anyone manning the front desk will gladly stamp it.
Our next stop, one of our favorite Hiking Spots and Home of our Annual Spring Hiking Challenge, Babcock State Park. We love the beauty and tranquility of Babcock, and even on a short day trip, the sound of the falls and the backdrop of the mill makes for a peaceful and refreshing visit.
We opened the WVVIPP box, located at the Park Headquarters, and there was no Stamper inside. We had to obtain our stamp inside the Park Office during office hours. When office personal left for the day, the Stamper was not placed in the WVVIPP box. I would recommend obtaining your Stamp during Park Office Hours.
Check out one our trail reviews of this magnificent park at the end of this post.
Traveling through Hinton, you always know when you are nearing Bluestone State Park by the site of the massive Bluestone Dam fighting to control the force of the New River.
Bluestone State Park covers over 2100 acres of forest, has 26 modern cabins and 120 campsites stretched over four different campgrounds. Located directly outside of Hinton, 10 miles (16 km) North of Pipestem Resort State Park, and sitting on the shores of the third largest lake in WV, makes Bluestone State Park a trendy place to visit.
When obtaining your WVVIPP stamp, make sure to drive up and see the cabins and down by the lake to visit the campgrounds. The Stamp is located outside of the Park Office, and if you don’t drive any further in, you will miss out on what this park has to offer. If on a short day trip, I recommend hiking the Overlook Trail to take advantage of some beautiful views of the lake.
Heading about 10 miles (16 km) South of Bluestone is Pipestem Resort State Park, the “Year-round Crown Jewel of West Virginia State Parks.” Pipestem provides two lodges, four dining areas, 26 cottages, 82 campsites, long and short golf courses and over 32 miles of hiking trails for visitors convenience and enjoyment.
Pipestem is a beautiful park with too much to do on a weekend excursion, let alone a day trip. Touring the park we came across the Canyon Rim Center. Adventuring down the 3600-foot (1097 m) tram into the gorge, across the Bluestone River, we stopped at the Mountain Creek Lodge to explore the area, eat, and shop at the gift shop. Taking in the last bit of light of our day, we headed back over to McKeever Lodge where the front desk receptionist provided us with our WVVIPP stamp. With the day behind us, we headed toward Greenbrier State Forest to grab our last WVVIPP stamp of the day.
Greenbrier State Forest is an excellent day or weekend visit. Conveniently located between historical Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs, it provides a beautiful and peaceful place to camp and rest before heading out and exploring these two historic places.
Today, instead of trying to explore as many State Parks as possible, we decided to take our time and relax at Twin Falls State Park. Twin Falls is a beautifully kept Park with its 18-hole Championship Golf Course. Guest accommodations include a 47 room lodge, with a restaurant on site, and 46 campsites. The Dogwood Flats Campsites provide ample space for setting up camp, but the Fox Hunters Point Campsites are a little tight for a family tent. If camping at Fox Hunters Point, a small four man tent or smaller is equivalent.
Past the campsites is the Pioneer Farm. Pioneer Farm is a living history farm showing guests the life of early settlers of the Twin Falls Area of the 1830s. The family that lives and work on the farm also share their lives on social media; so others can see their projects such as home schooling, managing live stock, farm maintenance, food recipes, and more. You can check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PioneerFarm/ and on their family blog at https://pioneerrainbowcrow.wordpress.com
The Pioneer Farm is a must see for little kids as well. Leo loved getting to pet the Billy Goats, getting licked by the Pigs, and chasing the Chickens which we told him, “No!” a thousand times. But, watching him run and explore the farm made us both wish we lived in those times. He seems so at home adventuring around the farm.
While leaving the Park, we stopped by the trailhead of Falls Trail. Falls Trail start hikers on a paved path leading down Marsh Fork to the Marsh Fork Falls. The trail then turns into a rock bed that takes you past the union of Marsh and Black Fork to create Cabin Creek. The trail leads up Black Fork to Black Fork Falls. The trail then meets with the Nature Trail which circles back to the trailhead of Falls Trail. Most of Falls Trail is surrounded by lush laurel, rhododendrons, and ferns making it a beautiful hike.
In the Summer months, the Falls were at a trickle. It wasn’t the waterfall luster we were hoping to see. But, other local hikers told us it is a lot better in the early Spring, and we should come back then. There is also a side trail that leads down where Marsh and Black Fork create Cabin Creek. It is a nice little out and back trail to see where these two Forks meet.
While hiking, we were talking about new places to take the kids camping next weekend, and we discussed Beech Fork State Park. We still had some evening day light left and decided to adventure West and see what Beech Fork has to offer.
Beech Fork State Park is one of West Virginia’s newest State Parks, created in 1979, boasting the largest campground in the state at 275 campsites and six cabins, with a 164 foot (50 m) pool, and over 14 miles (22.5 km) of hiking trails. A little over 90 campsites sit directly on the shore of Beech Fork Lake providing campers easy access to the water for fishing or boating.
The pool and recreation area are located on the other side of the road, but a tunnel has been installed with hiking paths for campers, hikers, and visitors to have access to the other end of the park safely.
When obtaining the WVVIPP stamp, there is a WVVIPP box located outside of the Park Headquarters, but there was no stamp or pad. We asked a Park Attendant where the stamp could be obtained, and he said from the receptionist desk during normal business hours. Park Headquarters closes at 5, and we were leaving at Sunset. So, out of all of our WVVIPP stamping, this is the first one we were not able to obtain. To obtain your stamp, we recommend visiting during business hours.
This weekend’s WVVIPP Road Trip took us through familiar parks and introduced us to new exciting places to explore. From overlooks of the New River Gorge and Bluestone River to a picturesque sunset and moonrise. From riding a tram and exploring new areas to being taken back to 1830s and experiencing early settler’s life. We are always surprised with what this state, we call home, shows us.