Watoga Art in the Park Features Artisans, Workshops, and More!

Watoga art in the Park logo

Thousands of people visit Watoga State Park to escape urbanity. Others come to hike or run on wooded mountain trails or to experience scenic vistas along with nature’s sights and sounds. But, there’s a unique group of individuals who immerse themselves in the utter calm at Watoga. Throughout the year, they visualize, dream, and create works of art. Thus, at the 4th Annual Watoga Art in the Park this Labor Day weekend, art and nature come together. Talented artists, artisans, musicians, and photographers will take center stage.

The free event features hands-on workshops, juried fine arts and crafts, live music, and of course, food.

Artisans, Musicians, and Food Too at Watoga Art in the Park

This year’s festival spotlights six workshops. There will be Wood Turning, Clay Birdhouses, Exploring the Cosmos, Fused Glass, Pendant Making, and a Kid’s Corner with crafts and activities for children. However, children must be accompanied by an adult. Watoga State Park Naturalist Kayla Bowyer will lead discovery hikes on Saturday and Sunday.

Music by Jim Snyder begins at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. Trash Fairie, a ukulele group, performs at 2:00 p.m. Sunday’s musical entertainment also includes a performance by Uncle Gary and the Porch Pickers at 2:00 p.m.

“We are thrilled to again offer visitors and residents alike a unique event to enjoy,” said Laura Finch, president of the Board of Directors of Experience the Arts, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization. “The focus of this year’s event is on local artists and artisans.” Last minute registrants can contact watogaartinthepark at gmail.com.

An added bonus to Watoga Art in the Park is the variety of food selections.

“We are especially excited for the food offerings this year, with a full spread of nibbles and nosh from Sally Cobb, including her world-famous chicken and sausage gumbo, shrimp etouffee over rice, along with veggie (and meat lovers) burgers and dogs,” said Finch.

Watoga annually hosts this popular and ever-expanding arts and crafts extravaganza the first weekend each September. The two-day festival is at the park’s picnic area, close to the swimming pool. Look for the Watoga Art in the Park logo on signs at Seebert Road/U.S. 219 or from the northern part of the park on Beaver Creek Road before you get to the campground.

Official Results from Watoga’s Mountain Trail Challenge Races

Photos of Watoga State Park Mountain Trail Challenge Races
And they’re off and running at Watoga’s Sixth Annual Mountain Trail Challenge Races. Photo by Daniel Flores.

The 5K and Half-Marathon Race Results Are In! APTiming.com has released official timing results for Watoga State Park’s Mountain Trail Challenge Races.

The overall finishers, top male finishers, and top female finishers follow:

Final Results

HALF-MARATHON

Overall winners

1. Aaron Walker, Spring Dale, WV, with a time of 1:55:12.1
2. Daniel McDowell, Princeton, WV, with a time of 1:57:24.9
3. Donald Marsh, Mount Clare, WV, with a time of 2:06:38.6

Male Winners

1. Aaron Walker, Spring Dale, WV, with a time of 1:55:12.1
2. Daniel McDowell, Princeton, WV, with a time of 1:57:24.9
3. Donald Marsh, Mount Clare, WV, with a time of 2:06:38.6

Female Winners

1. Elise McClintic, Lewisburg, WV, with a time of 2:08:27.2
2. Donna Wright, Roanoke, VA, with a time of 2:24:59.3
3. Megan Lively, Oak Hill, WV, with a time of 2:30:50.4

5K RUN/WALK

Overall Winners

1. Bryon Shrewsberry, Daniels, WV, with a time of 23:48.5
2. Ben Palisca, city unknown, with a time of 23:54.9
3. Hannah Scrafford, Marlinton, WV, with a time of 26:03.5

Male Winners

1. Bryon Shrewsberry, Daniels, WV, with a time of 23:48.5
2. Ben Palisca, city unknown, with a time of 23:54.9
3. Alexander Pearson, Arlington, VA, with a time of 27:41.4

Female Winners

1. Hannah Scrafford, Marlinton, WV, with a time of 26:03.5
2. Devin Haynes, Williamsburg, WV, with a time of 26:08.1
3. Kelly Pults, Mount Jackson, VA, with a time of 26:47.7

Without you . . .

Without all of the runners, more than 60 volunteers, including registration gurus, cuisine experts, professional photographers, knowledgeable aid station personnel, expert communications teams, ready-to-respond emergency personnel, and the dedicated Watoga State Park Foundation Team, none of this would have been possible.

The Foundation’s “Challenge” is to make the races better each year. Special shout-outs to the Mountain Trail Team whose hard work shaped the course into its best-ever condition for this year’s races.

Special thanks to many phenomenal local businesses and sponsors who donated so selflessly. Kudos to the talented Pocahontas County artisans who handcrafted special edition mugs and plates for the runners. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Much appreciation to APTiming.com for your technical expertise in calibrating each and every runner’s times to the exact 1/1000ths of a second. Likewise, a round of applause is in order for media outlets and other organizations both in West Virginia and outside the Mountain State for helping to publicize the races.

To Watoga State Park employees who welcome so many people with open arms throughout the year to the largest state park in the Mountain State: Many thanks!

Finally, to the Mountain Trail Challenge runners who make these races second to none in America: We enjoy seeing you at the park even when there’s not a race. We admire your athleticism, stamina, and enthusiasm. You’re simply the best!

Naturalist Activities at Watoga State Park — August 26-28

Naturalist activities by Kayla Bowyer continue this week at Watoga State Park.
Watoga Lake.

Cooking by the campfire headlines this week’s Watoga State Park naturalist activities. But, be sure not to miss owls, dragonflies, and turtles presented by Kayla Bowyer, park naturalist. Kayla will even help you sharpen your nocturnal skills.

Nature Journaling and a Creek Crawl too!

Thursday, August 26
Nature Journaling 4 p.m.
Stop by Riverside Campground check-in to learn about Nature Journaling. All you need is a pen and a paper plate (which will be provided)!

Sunset Hike 7:30 p.m.
Join Naturalist Kayla at the pool parking lot for a short hike to the top of the dam to observe the sunset. Take in the lovely views of Watoga Lake and learn about some of the critters who hang out at dusk. Expect an hour to an hour and a half hike. Feel free to bring headlamps for the hike back.

Friday, August 27
Creek Crawl 2 p.m.
Gather at the pool parking lot to learn about the critters that inhabit our creek. Learn why scientists collect these critters and you can collect some yourself. Be prepared to get wet and wear appropriate footwear.

Watoga Wildlife: Owls 4 p.m.
Come to Beaver Creek Campground to learn about the top predators of the night; Owls! Kayla will talk about some of the common West Virginia owl species and their calls.

Campfire Cooking 8 p.m.
Stop by Riverside Campground check-in to try some campfire cooking. Learn a new recipe and feel free to share your own.

Naturalist Activities to Remember!

Saturday, August 28
Turtle Talk 2 p.m.
Come on down to the main park office to experience West Virginia’s Turtles! See some shells and walk away with a turtle craft!

Dragonfly Hunt 5 p.m.
At the pool parking lot, we’ll hunt for dragonflies. We will be walking around the backside of the lake to try to catch these acrobatic hunters.

Night Hike 8:00 p.m.
Join Naturalist Kayla at the Boat Dock for an hour to an hour and a half night hike! Learn about our nocturnal skills and the world after dark. We will be focusing on using natural vision, so we will be limiting the use of headlamps. Please feel free to bring red light headlamps for the hike and headlamps for the walk back to the car.

Mountain Trail Challenge Race Photos at Watoga State Park

Even though the weather was not perfect for the 6th Annual Watoga State Park Mountain Trail Challenge Races, runners young and old alike turned out to take on the “challenge” of the 5K Run/Walk and Half-Marathon.

Photos of Watoga State Park Mountain Trail Challenge Races
Most importantly, they’re off at Watoga’s Sixth Annual Mountain Trail Challenge Races. Photo by Daniel Flores.
Runners gather steam for Watoga's Mountain Trail Challenge.
Meanwhile, determination appears on the faces of half-marathoners at Watoga State Park. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Mountain Trail Challenge
Now, through the woods of the Mountain Trail Challenge we go. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Mountain Trail Challenge Runners go by lush ferns along the course.
Furthermore, along the trails at Watoga State Park is a plethora of flora and fauna for runners and hikers alike. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Without doubt, the moss and ferns welcomed the much-needed rain. However, we’re not so sure about the runners. Photo by Brian Hirt.

And the Mountain Trail Challenge
Continues . . .

During the races, fist-bumps are often seen between volunteers and runners. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Despite the weather, the smiles came out in full force. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Near the picnic shelter at Watoga State Park, this runner sprints toward an aid station.
Evidently, the refreshments and nutrition will be very useful in a second. Photo by Daniel Flores.
In spite of thunder, lightning, and torrential rain, this runner weathered the storm. Photo by Peggy Owens.
Certainly, there are many thumbs up to all the runners who show up year-after-year for the Mountain Trail Challenge races. Photo by Brian Hirt.
Strategically placed aid stations help runners to endure the “challenging” race. Photo by Daniel Flores.
Aha, the finish line at last! Photo by Peggy Owens.
Obviously, we took your photo. How did the one of us turn out? Photo by Peggy Owens.
Watoga State Park welcomes this young lady to the races!
No words needed. Photo by Daniel Flores.
Weather aside, warm and friendly smiles ruled the day. Photo by Daniel Flores.

Until Next Year . . .

Watoga State Park Foundation canopy.
Two Foundation board members await confirmation that all runners have safely traversed the courses. And planning is already underway for next year’s Mountain Trail Challenge races. Photo by Peggy Owens.

5K and Half Marathon Stage Almost Set to Welcome Runners to Watoga

5K and Half-Marathon signs going up at Watoga.

The stage is almost set for the Sixth Annual Watoga State Park Mountain Challenge Races. Saturday’s races will feature runners from Virginia to California and across the United States. Because of Watoga’s unique racecourses, 5K and Half Marathon enthusiasts come from across the U.S.

Race Day morning temperature will be a comfortable 63 degrees. Talk about ideal running conditions! Meteorologists currently predict afternoon temperatures of 84 degrees. There’s a 39 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms in nearby Hillsboro. However, at Watoga, it should be five to 10 degrees cooler along this challenging and hilly route.

As you drive into the park, race signs, strategically placed to “get your attention,” will direct you to the Beaver Creek Campground. You also may notice deer out grazing so early in a mist-filled morning.

From 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., Race Day entrants can complete the registration process near the Beaver Creek Campground. Whether you’ve registered online or are waiting until that morning, don’t worry. Our volunteer teams will assist you.

All race proceeds benefit Watoga State Park. Any donations may be tax-deductible.

Because of the unavailability of Internet services, only cash or checks are accepted. Moreover, if you have never been to Watoga, please print your directions or save them to your mobile device prior to leaving. You will not have internet-based map directions for the entire trip to the park.

Along the 5K and Half Marathon Courses . . .

Along the half marathon route, runners will traverse through a 13.1-mile adventure. Elevations will range from 2,560 feet to 3,200 feet. Six aid stations staffed by volunteers providing nutrition and essential hydration to runners. The 5K will have one aid station situation mid-way in the 3.1-mile course.

Serious looks are on the faces of the half marathon runners as they are ready to take on a challenging 13.1-mile course at Watoga State Park's Half Marathon and 5k Races. Photo by the Watoga State Park Foundation, Inc.
Half Marathon runners are ready to take on Watoga’s challenging 13.1-mile course. Photo by the Watoga State Park Foundation, Inc.

This year’s tread (the surface runners feel underfoot) is in the best shape ever! Importantly, continuous and necessary work during the past six years has resulted in steady improvements to prevent erosion and tread wear.

Communications teams, rescue personnel, and emergency response squads will be in various locations throughout the park.

Photographers will be documenting your journey, your smiles, and even a grimace or two as you leave sweat behind.

The half marathon starts promptly at 8:30, followed by the 5K with both slated to end at 2 p.m. A cookout and an awards ceremony will be at the Beaver Creek Campground airstrip.

Race organizers, event planners, volunteers, and park personnel will be following protocol recommended by the Centers for Disease Control as well as local and state health guidelines. You can review current guidelines issued by the CDC. Additional COVID information will be provided in the pre-race meeting.

Watoga State Park and the Foundation are looking forward to welcoming you to the Watoga Mountain Trail Races. See you Saturday!

Online Registration for 5K and Half-Marathon Races Ends Soon!

Attention All Runners: Online registration for the Mountain Trail Challenge 5K and Half-Marathon Races ends in two days! Please click here to complete your sign up before 11:59 p.m., Saturday, August 7. After August 7, you can still register in-person on Race Day, August 14. Just follow the signs to the airfield near the Beaver Creek Campground.

Are you ready to run? Online registration deadline is fast approaching. Sign up today!
Are you ready to run? The online registration deadline for the 5K and Half-Marathon races is fast approaching. Sign up today!

As the largest state park in West Virginia at 10,000-plus acres and more than 40-miles of trails, Watoga State Park is the ideal spot for a late summer half-marathon and 5K. In the half-marathon, runners will traverse through some of the most majestic surroundings in the eastern U.S. Additionally, temperatures in mid-August tend to run on the hot side. Moreover, Watoga runners will be surrounded by a canopy of trees and greens on its half-marathon and 5K courses.

5K and Half-Marathon Specifics

Half-Marathon and 5K Races: August 14, Watoga State Park, 4800 Watoga Road, Marlinton, WV 24954. Follow the signs for Beaver Creek Campground. First up is the Half- Marathon. It begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Furthermore, the 5K starts at 8:40 a.m., ending at 2 p.m.

View the Mountain Trail Challenge Half-Marathon course map. Here’s the route for the 5K.

Great Places to Stay and Eat!

You can explore lodging options at the park and other places to stay or dine.

Please note that for Race Day registrants, due to the unavailability of Internet services, only cash or checks can be accepted. Also, if you have never been to Watoga, please print your directions or save them to your mobile device prior to leaving home. You will not have internet-based map directions for the entire trip to the park.

See you on Race Day at Watoga, where its many wonders await you on shaded and wooded mountain trails!

Mountain Trail Challenge Races: Unique Courses for Runners at Watoga

Mountain Trail Challenge Races kick off on August 14 at Watoga State Park.
Mountain Trail Challenge Races kick off on August 14 at Watoga State Park. Photo by Watoga State Park Foundation, Inc.

In less than two weeks, many people will meet at an old air strip in a remote region of the Allegheny Highlands in West Virginia. Throughout 2021, visitors came to Watoga State Park from near and far for various reasons. Some came to camp, hike, bike, fish or maybe stay in a cabin built in the 1930s. But, this is a group of runners gathering to do what they love: Run on the trails! And run they will at the Sixth Annual Watoga State Park Mountain Trail Challenge Races. Featured events are the half-marathon and the 5K on August 14.

Mountain Trail Challenge Races at West Virginia’s Largest State Park

As the largest state park in West Virginia at 10,000-plus acres and more than 40-miles of trails, Watoga is the ideal spot for a late summer half-marathon and 5K. In the half-marathon, runners will traverse through some of the most majestic surroundings in the eastern U.S. Additionally, temperatures in mid-August tend to run on the hot side. Watoga runners will be surrounded by a canopy of trees and greens on its half-marathon and 5K courses.

While marathoners and 5K runners alike have been conditioning for Watoga’s challenging trails, volunteers from the Watoga State Park Foundation have been busy getting both courses into game-day ready shape.

So, are you ready to race? Here are a few last-minute details. Online registration ends August 7 at 11:59 p.m. After August 7, registration is in person only, on Race Day, August 14 at 6:30 a.m. at the Beaver Creek Campground Check-in Station. Here is the registration site for both races.

All race proceeds benefit the park through the Watoga State Park Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Your donations may be tax deductible.

Race Details

Half-Marathon and 5K Races: August 14, Watoga State Park, 4800 Watoga Road, Marlinton, WV 24954. Follow the signs for Beaver Creek Campground. First up is the Half- Marathon. It begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. The 5K starts at 8:40 a.m., ending at 2 p.m.

View the Mountain Trail Challenge Half-Marathon course map. Here’s the route for the 5K.

You can explore lodging options at the park and other places to stay or dine.

Course Updates and What Our Volunteers Are Doing

Word has it that the course surface is in excellent condition thanks to many volunteers who have been diligently removing encroaching plants and roots since 2020.

Behind the scenes at Watoga and on race day, more than 60 volunteers are working diligently to make the Mountain Trail Challenge Races the best ever. They have been busy marking the courses, using signs and flagging ribbons as well as mile point markers.

Moreover, on race day, others will be assisting with food, snacks and refreshments for the runners. You may even notice our volunteer communications team throughout the park, strategically located to ensure runners’ safety. So, look for our volunteers along the trails and other unexpected places cheering you on, staffing first-aid stations, and providing much-needed hydration. If you are able to volunteer to help the Foundation assist Watoga to become even greater than it is now, please complete this online form.

Don’t be surprised if you see a photographer or two along your route capturing your smiles and grimaces along the way. That Mountain Trail Challenge Races t-shirt you run so hard to receive is also ordered!

Many runners faces are depicted in this collage from Watoga State Park's Mountain Trail Challenge Races set to start on August 14.
Will you be one of these faces this year? Photo by Watoga State Park Foundation, Inc.