While the COVID-19 stay-at-home order has people staying indoors as much as possible, spring has arrived. The weather is getting warmer and the outdoors beckons.
In Wyoming County, there are two large recreational locations, R.D. Bailey Lake and Twin Falls Resort State Park.
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The R.D. Bailey Lake dam overlook area is currently open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., but is closed on the weekend.
The winter boat launch along with the Justice Hiking Trail and Salt River Trail are also open.
The Visitor Center, playgrounds, restrooms, and shelters are closed as a precaution against spreading the virus.
For updated hours of operation, phone the lake’s information line at 304-664-3229.
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At Twin Falls, the lodge, the cabins and the campground remain closed by order of Gov. Jim Justice along with all other buildings, including restrooms, on the park.
Playground equipment is also off limits.
Picnicking is permitted, but only in groups of 10 or less. The picnic shelters are closed to reservations.
While the golf pro shop is closed, visitors can play golf at no cost, but cannot rent carts or interact with the staff.
Most of the staff continues working, keeping the park ready so that when the unprecedented closures end, they can “hit the ground running,” according to a spokesperson.
People are hiking, deer watching from cars, biking, walking with and without dogs, as well as picnicking in families and very small groups, according to the spokesperson.
“Overall, people seem to be calm and subdued. I’d like to think it is a sign people are focusing on the healing powers of the park,” the spokesperson said.
Twin Falls boasts nearly 30 miles of hiking trails on its 4,000 acres.
One of the most popular hikes is the Falls Trails, which winds its way to the twin falls – Marsh Fork and Black Fork – for which the park is named.
The hike begins on a paved trail to the first falls, Marsh Fork, then breaks into a loop, going down along the creek to the second falls, Black Fork, then curves back on itself on an old park road. It is a moderate rolling trail with varying terrain, with a total distance of one-and-a-quarter miles.
“These trails wind their way around old farm sites all over the park,” according to David “Bugs” Stover, Wyoming County circuit clerk who serves as a guest naturalist and storyteller at the park.
“There are about 15 old moonshine stills scattered around,” Stover noted.
“You can see old water boxes that were used on the farms.
“There are even old railroad beds from the Ritter Lumber days.
“Think about all the history you can see on these trails.
“It’s almost spiritual to be amongst all these trees,” he emphasized, noting that the trees on the park haven’t been cut in the last half-century.
Authorized by the Federal Flood Control Act of 1962 to control flooding along the Guyandotte and Ohio rivers, R.D. Bailey Lake has a summer lake surface of about 630 acres, with 17 miles of shoreline.
It is a popular destination for fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts.
There are roughly 19,000 acres in the project area, with 17,280 acres leased to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for wildlife management.
In spring, trout fishermen are drawn to the Clearfork River portion of the project and the Below Dam Recreation Area when trout stocking season begins.
The project area currently offers boating, kayaking, sightseeing, bicycling, walking, hiking, and fishing.