Through the “Chief’s Challenge,” West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England is challenging state residents of all ages to “Go Hike” by hiking 100 miles in the coming year.
“2016 is the year for hiking in West Virginia state parks and state forests,” England emphasized.
“It’s simple; I like to hike and I’m challenging individuals or groups who enjoy our state parks and forest trails and pathways to enjoy them as I do – on foot,” England said.
The Chief’s Challenge is to hike, or walk, 100 miles in 2016 on state park or state forest trails or pathways.
Ten miles of the 100-mile goal should be with a park naturalist.
The other 90 miles may be completed solo or with friends and family at any of West Virginia state parks or forests.
“It’s an achievable goal over the course of a calendar year,” England said.
“It’s also a great way to meet some outstanding naturalists and interpreters in our state parks system,” he added.
England grew up in Mullens and is a graduate of Mullens High School. His very first job was on the golf course maintenance crew at Twin Falls State Park.
• • •
In Wyoming County, Twin Falls Resort State Park offers a variety of hiking experiences.
Thirteen trails provide 26 miles of picturesque hiking and/or biking across the park, according to Scott Durham, park superintendent.
Trails range from the easy quarter-mile Twin Oaks, which is paved, to the very rugged Path Finder, a five-mile trail that is steep and adventurous, Durham noted.
Other trails fall somewhere in between the two. A trail map is available at the lodge’s front desk.
One of the trails winds its way to the two falls – Marsh Fork and Black Fork – for which the park is named. Water flows freely from both locations in the winter and spring, but usually dries up in the summer.
• • •
Summer activities in the state parks often include scheduled guided hikes, and parks with lodges and cabins frequently have scheduled hikes in the non-summer months, according to park officials.
A First Day Hike Jan. 1, Full Moon Hikes at Cass Scenic Railroad, National Trails Day on June 4 and other special hikes are scheduled throughout the park system, with information updated on the park system’s website under Events Calendar.
Groups of eight or more enrolling in the Chief’s Challenge can book a hike in advance with a park naturalist at mutually convenient times. Participating parks include Twin Falls, Blackwater Falls, Tygart Lake, North Bend, Cacapon and Pipestem.
Participation in the challenge is free, but enrollment is required.
Enrollees receive a Chief’s Challenge sticker after registering.
“With more than 140 people already enrolled, I’m encouraged with the response,” England said Monday.
“It’s great to have people engaged in the same hiking activities that I personally enjoy.
“Depending upon miles logged and interest, we may have to have a great big hot cocoa party and early winter hike to celebrate,” he said.
Chief’s Challenge information is posted at www.wvstateparks.com/Hikes_Walks.html and includes an enrollment link and mileage log sheet.