Tales From a Watoga Naturalist

Jim Meads, Professor Emeritus, Glenville State College, was Park Naturalist at Watoga in 1967 and 1968. Here are Jim’s stories from his time at Watoga.

Background

Judy and I have been married 52 years this July, 2019. Watoga State Park is such a special place for us. We started our wonderful life together here. In June of 1967, I was hired as a seasonal naturalist for Watoga. I was going into my Senior year in the fall at Glenville State College majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Richard Dale (wife Verna) was the Superintendent and Dale Crouser (wife Gwen) was the Assistant Superintendent. Their kindness will never be forgotten. The precusors to Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

We were married in Parkersburg on July 2, 1967. My lovely wife was a city gal with not much experience in the world of nature. She never had an indoor pet except for a goldfish. Our plan was to leave for Watoga after our wedding in Parkersburg hauling a small Scottie trailer behind. I should tell you that in the trailer was a poodle given to us as a wedding present. No, never buy a pet for someone else. I also had an injured red tailed hawk, a bag of snakes, and an assortment of amphibians. Our plan was to live in the trailer at the Beaver Creek Campground.

Hawk Head

I need to stop here and explain the injured red tail hawk. He was discovered before our wedding on the road going from Seebert. We named the hawk, Garth, and Garth took up residence in the trees at our Beaver Creek Campground location. I fed him bluegill. If I wore my green park uniform, I could call his name and he would fly down and perch on my head. I had a scabby scalp that summer. Garth got into trouble when a camper was grilling hamburgers. Garth eyed the juicy meat, swooped down, and flew away with his catch.

I then moved him to the lake by the Administration building to keep him out of trouble. He was always a welcome addition to my nature lectures by the lake. When I called his name he would appear, land on my head, and amaze the park visitors. I had to laugh when one day a fisherman appeared in the office complaining that “the damn eagle had swooped down and grabbed the bass he had just hooked”. I knew it was no eagle but just an opportunistic red tailed hawk. Good ending to this story. Garth found a bride and I am hoping many Garth descendants are around Watoga.

As we entered the park through Seebert, along Island Lick Run, the rhododendrons were in full bloom. Judy told me later that, as we traveled the road toward the Administration Building, she was wondering if she could ever find her way out of that vast wilderness.

Accommodations

We setup our camper beside the Beaver Creek Campground’s bath house and lived there for a couple of weeks. Mr. Dale realized our accommodations were a little cramped and asked if we would like to move to a large room over the restaurant in the Administration Building, which was built in the mid 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. Most of the logs and lumber used in the construction was salvaged from blight-killed American Chestnut. Judy was excited to live in the large room with a bathroom on the side.

Mr. Dale gave us access to the storage shed and we found an electric hot plate and a table. We were now ready to live in our new abode. Judy was a trooper. She adapted to the camel crickets that shared our shower. Only two appliances could be used at a time, she realized. Otherwise we would pop the breakers losing power not only to our room but the restaurant beneath us. We did have the luxury of an electric skillet, crock pot, and coffee pot.

Cricket Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

I loved it when we first moved in to the room and Judy heard tiny squeaks coming from the windows. She said that it is so nice to hear the chirping of baby birds. It was not until we were leaving for the summer that I confessed that those bird sounds were actually bats resting in the cracks of the windows.

I had such a wonderful experience working as naturalist at the Park. I would help with Monday check-ins of cabin guests. We would always plan a marshmallow roast up by the Recreation Hall each week. I learned early on the horrors of flying burning marshmallows launched by the kids of cabin guests. The Rec Hall is where we would show a 16 mm Disney nature classic. Who can forget “Bear Country” or “Squeak the Squirrel”? Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

Usually after cabin check-ins we would have one cabin complain about finding bats in the cabin. There was no way they were going to believe that this was part of the park experience. I would don my superman suit (green park attire) and arrive at their cabin with a large container of bat repellent spray. Actually it was plain ole water and I would liberally spray the rafters. It worked almost 100% of the time. Plain water equals no bats.

Field Trip Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

I would schedule motor field trips to Cranberry Glades. Oh, the memories of leading a tour to Big Glade and getting my direction confused in the alder thickets. There was a memorable time where we had several Mennonite ladies hiking through the sphagnum bogs. With their long dresses and buckle shoes, a person would think that it would make the trek difficult. They hiked better than I did. We scheduled trips to Bear Town before it officially became a state park. This unique natural area was finally purchased in 1970 with funds from the Nature Conservancy and a donation from Edwin G. Polan.

I shared Watoga’s unique animal and plant life with Park guests. I collected beautiful Timber Rattlesnakes from an old wood pile located at the end of the old airport runway at Beaver Creek. They were beautiful reptiles indeed. Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

We always had a botany hike along the trail by the lake. As I was pretty good at plant identification, I learned a technique to use if one of the plants stumped me. “ I am not certain of the proper name of that plant but the locals call it….”. and would make up an Appalachian sounding name. However, that identification technique could not be used more than twice during one field trip! As I was diligently working, my good wife and Gwen Crouser would walk to Watoga Lake and put two reclining lounges in a row boat so they could sun bathe. A beaver tail slap beside the boat often greeted them.

Pre-Riverside Campground Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

It was such an exciting time for us. Before the construction of Riverside, newest campground, we parked at Cabin Three, a great large cabin that tragically burned. We would hike along the Greenbrier River and enjoy the wonders that we encountered. I recall one evening that we packed our supper. We hauled a coffee pot and large container of water to a waterfall. Sadly, after transporting the heavy items, we discovered we had forgotten the coffee! Tales from a Watoga Naturalist.

It was on this trip that my good city wife had a scary experience. Going around a wet area in the path, she decided to take a detour. She stepped on a pile of limbs and quickly realized she had fallen into a beaver’s lodge up to her hips. Judy thought that the beavers would chew her legs off. I pulled her out and explained that beavers were herbivores and she had nothing to worry about.

Watoga memories continue to be a part of the fabric of our lives -from a night search for a lost cabin guest on Honeymoon Trail to collecting ancient coral fossils at nearby Calvin Price State Forest. As we get older, we realize the importance of life stories and feel so blessed to have Watoga as an amazing part of our story.

Jim Meads, Glenville State College Professor Emeritus of Biology

Wild Edibles Festival

The 2019 Wild Edibles Festival is Coming Soon to a State Park Near You

Watoga State Park Naturalist, Chris Bartley, is visibly excited about this year’s Wild Edibles Festival. When I stopped at the park headquarters to talk to him last Thursday, he started off our conversation discussing the major, and likely better, changes to the format of the event. “Instead of scheduled classes this year, we are trying an ‘open forum’ approach. The downside to having people sign up for classes when other classes are being conducted simultaneously is that people have to choose between presentations. Often they are forced to miss other classes they would like to attend. With this change, people can move from demonstration to demonstration and have a full experience. “

Naturalist Chris Bartley, Watoga State Park

Chris said this year’s wild edibles festival event will be held at the picnic shelter.T This spacious area allows attendees to visit demonstrations on various aspects of gathering and utilizing wild edibles, including herbal and medicinal uses. Additionally, several naturalists from other state parks will be on hand to conduct guided wild edible walks.

This year’s Wild Edibles Festival kicks off at 3 PM on Friday, May 3 with a guided foraging hike around Watoga Lake. Those interested should assemble at the Activities Building, bring water, wear closed-toe shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather and water.

At 7 PM Friday Geo Derick, Keynote Speaker, will discuss Wild Medicine: The Art and the Science. Geo is a Registered Clinical Herbalist and is the founding owner, practitioner, and formulator of Geo Joys. Geo enjoys formulating custom medicines for clients that are both good tasting and therapeutic. She is no stranger to our Wild Edibles Festival. And her presentations are always well attended and popular. This presentation takes place in the Activities Building near the pool.

Activities commence at 10 AM Saturday until approximately 4 PM. Visit the many vendors, demonstrations and guided walks throughout the day, all focused on wild foods, drink, and medicines. Sample wild foods. Garlic mustard pesto, ramp pickles and chili will be available. Live music is provided by Sugar Run. Watoga Wild Edibles Festival is fun and educational!

For more information on the Wild Edibles Festival contact Christopher Bartley at (304) 799- 4087 or via email at Chris.R.Bartley@wv.gov or Contact Watoga Foundation.

A Short History of Foraging for Wild Foods

Photo of local (Pocahontas County, WV) wild edibles

The number of people who must forage for their daily sustenance decreases every year. However, some can still be found in some remote areas such as the Amazon River Basin. Agriculture, in existence for about 10,000 years, has replaced virtually all hunting and gathering societies. With the exception of sport hunting and fishing, the knowledge and skills required to procure wild foods and medicines are in danger of being lost in the industrialized world. However, on Native American lands and in Appalachia people have always consumed seasonal plants, berries, nuts, and mushrooms found in nature.

Euell Gibbons came to public attention in 1962 when he wrote best-seller, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” It is often regarded as the classic of foraging guides. Six more books of the same or similar genre. Mr. Gibbons books were well timed for the “Back to Earth” movement of the ’60s and ’70s. They are appreciated by the growing number of people interested in foraging for wild foods.

Euell Gibbons was also known as spokesman for Post Grape Nuts during this period. His commercials would often start with “Ever eat a pine tree?” “Many parts are edible.” The commercials ended with “the taste of Post Grape Nuts reminds me of wild hickory nuts.” You can see some of these old commercials on YouTube., as well as many funny parodies of Euell. In on he is eating a bowl of Grape Nuts and pauses to say “Of course I don’t usually eat it (Grape Nuts) out of a bowl like this, usually I just eat it out of my shoe. Sometimes I just eat my shoe…”

In the last decade or so there has been a resurgence of interest in collecting wild foods. Some aspects of this pastime have become trendy. Afew years ago upscale restaurants offered such dishes as nettle salad, causing a rush on nettle foraging. Too bad it wasn’t the invasive garlic mustard. Even the term ‘foraging’ has been replaced by ‘wildcrafting’ in many circles. Pocahontas County is thankfully not one of them.

But on the whole the revived interest in wild foods has been a good thing. Bringing attention to environmental concerns such as the damage perpetrated by invasive species, and getting people off their couches and into the outdoors are positive developments. Books on the subject of foraging have become more sophisticated through the years, offering delicious and healthy recipes. An improvement of the standby method of the ’60s which directed foragers to boil everything and then drench it in butter.

Speaking of recipes for wild foods, I set out on a trail last week with the intention of harvesting a handful of ramps and a mess of wintercress, also called creasy greens. I unexpectedly stumbled upon an old apple tree that had a dozen or so morels circling it. On my way back home I gave thought to how I might prepare this trio of wild delicacies.

Wild Edibles dinner from the bounty of Pocahontas County, WV

Dinner that evening consisted of sautéed ramps and creasy greens with roasted walnuts topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction. The delicious greens sat alongside a morel po-boy with homemade aioli. This sumptuous plate was paired with a Dogfish Head Watermelon IPA.

That sounded a lot like foodie-speak, didn’t it?

Sorry, I meant to say that I fried up those shrooms and slid em into a bun with a slather of mayo. Then I boiled up those greens, put a stick of butter on em, and washed it all down with a Miller Lite.

Happy Hiking and Foraging,

Ken Springer

Halloween in the Campground October 26 & 27, 2018

Join us for a spooky good time as we celebrate Halloween in the Campground October 26 & 27, 2018  in Watoga’s Riverside Campground. This is your chance to decorate your campsite and become the winner of our Halloween in the Campground Decorating Contest.  Even more, everyone can take part in the trick-or-treat!  Even those not staying in the campground are encouraged to participate in all activities including the trick or trunk or treat!  Therefore, mMake sure you stop by campsite 15 on Saturday and see local residents Dustin and Devan Simmons, as they demonstrate how to make apple butter. You will also have a chance to help if you choose.  There will also be samples for you to take home while they last.

Friday October 26

6PM Movie in the Campground: Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin

Bring a lawn chair or something else to sit on and join us at the Riverside Campground as we watch the family friendly movie “Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.”

7 PM Movie in the Campground: Ghostbusters

Meet us for our second movie of the evening, as we watch the classic movie “Ghostbusters” on our inflatable screen. Be sure to bring something to sit on. Snacks will be provided.

9 PM Glow Walk

Light the sky with glow sticke Watoga Halloween in the Campground 2018What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a Night Hike. We will hike to the light of glow sticks! Bring you glow sticks and join us by the check in station to help us light up the sky as we walk around the campground. Be sure to wear closed to shoes.

Saturday October 27

11 AM Campfire Cookery

Join us for some fun and fellowship at Riverside Campground behind the check-in station. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on as we cook up some goodies in a Dutch oven over a campfire. All ages are welcome. Samples of the pumpkin cobbler available!

2PM Pumpkin Carving and Decorating

Carve a jack-o-lantern at Watoga Halloween in the Campground 2018Bring a pumpkin, have some fun with art and decorate your pumpkin with paint or by carving. We will provide carving tools and paint. Parents/guardians are asked to assist children in any way possible as they need. Pumpkins can then be taken back to be used for the evening activities.

5PM Halloween Costume Contest

Open to youth up to age 14, our Costume Contest will begin at the Gorup Campsite at the lower lot of Riverside. Prizes will be given to the best costumes as determined by our judges.

6PM Trick or Trunk or Treat

This activity is open to anyone young at heart who would like to participate whether camping, staying in a cabin or local to the area. If you are planning to hand out candy, please arrive at Riverside Campground between 4:30 and 5:30 pm. Once there, you will be given instructions as to where to park. We look forward to everyone partipating!

7:30 PM Ghost Stories, Spooky Tales, and S’mores

What would Halloween be without being able to hear some spooky ghost stories? Bring a lawn chair, a blanket, or something else to sit on. Come join us by the fire ring in the campground to listen to some ghost stories told by story tellers Cully McCurdy and Bugs Stover. Afterwards we will have the makings for s’mores!

Music in the Park

Saturday September 15, 2018

It’s a great day of Music in the Park at the picnic shelter at Watoga State Park. The The Watoga Foundation  supports this event and encourages you to enjoy listening to the following  musicial artists at the picnic shelter in Watoga State Park

11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

Trevor Hammons – Bluegrass
Trevo Hammons, musician to perform at Watoga Music in the ParkPocahontas County native Trevor Hammons has made a name for himself in West Virginia, Virginia, and surrounding states. Trevor was also part of a band, “Mud Hole OUT of Control,” for 6 years. Having won many awards for his ability to play banjo, Trevor has some roots in bluegrass music that run deep. Accordingly, he released a CD with his former band in 2016, and has performed on various stages. Trevor can play with the best. He was born with an “old soul” that you definitely do not want to miss listening to.

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Amy Andrews – Country
Amy Andrews, musician to perform at Watoga Music in the ParkBorn and raised in Baltimore, MD, Amy Andrews is a wildly talented, charming, and award-winning artist known for brilliant performances, stunning vocals, unassuming charm on stage, and traveling the continent to perform gigs with her dog in tow.

In the last year alone, Amy has gone solo, received national press, chatted with the good folks of National Public Radio, and completed an international tour, sharing stages and opening for artists from Gregory Alan Isakov, Rose Cousins, Stu Larsen, Joseph Arthur, Glen Phillips and Toad the Wet Sprocket, Levi Lowrey and Clay Cook (of Zac Brown Band and John Mayer), and more.

This tree-hugging, ever-traveling, modern day torch-singer and songwriter is one you need to hear live!

3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Rush Run Philharmonic – Americana
Rush Run Philharmonic to perform at Watoga Music in the ParkAn eclectic group of musicians occupying the hills and hollers of southern West Virginia, Rush Run Philharmonic plays music rich with harmonies. The band created their name based from the words“Rush Run,” a creek in West Virginia; and “Philharmonic,”a French word meaning the love of music and harmonies. Combining acoustic guitars, bass and vocals, the band interprets songs from artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Woody Guthrie, and many more. Rush Run weaves a harmonious musical trail through songs we all love.

5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Phoenix Rising – Southern Rock
Composed of mixed musicians who have played in various bands previously, they are rising from the ashes of those bands to bring one of the best in classic and southern rock in Pocahontas County. Having performed on various stages, Phoenix Rising can get the crowds going, and give you a performance you won’t forget.

Join the Watoga Foundation and the Watoga State Park staff for a great day of Music in the Park!

 

Watoga State Park Foundation Inc News June 2, 2018

Watoga State Park Foundation Inc News June 2, 2018.  following the bi-monthly Watoga State Park Foundation Inc. board meeting held at 10 am on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at the Watoga State Park offices 4848 Watoga Park Rd, Marlinton, WV 24954.

After the usual minutes and reports, the board re-elected the current slate of officers for a new three year term.

President: John Goodwin
Vice-President: Kenneth Springer
Treasurer: Mac Gray
Secretary: Maureen Conley

Wayne T Pollard of Beaver Creek Rd, just outside the Park became the Foundation’s newest member. Wayne retired from First Energy and values the park for preservation of the natural world for future generations.

Rental Cabins

Rental cabin at Watoga State ParkPark visitors rented more cabins in May with  87 more  rental nights than May, 2017.

The Workman Cabin, a historic structure located at the head of the Rock Run Watershed and close to the Old Growth Area manifests 2 important critical repair needs.  A hole in the roof, caused by a fallen tree limb, needs repaired.  And the bottom courses of logs need replaced and foundation needs shoring up. Additionally, the Foundation and Park are currently working with a grant, and this work needs to happen as soon as possible.

Additional Park Improvements

Watoga Superintendent Jody Spencer announced upcoming West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) activity in and around Watoga. The Ann Bailey Road from the parking area out to the Ann Bailey lookout will be improved by WVDOH, as will the Laurel Run Rd from the end of Beaver Creek Rd to the Laurel Run Primitive Campground and Kennison Run Trailhead.

Upcoming improvements will also be made to the swimming pool and Riverside Campground.  The cabin improvement project is nearing completion.  All CCC era cabins are receiving renovations and improvements to increase their comfort and desirability.

The US Forest Service is funding restroom construction along the Allegheny Trail near the old air strip and Beaver Creek Campground. A wifi hotspot will be activated at the Beaver Creek check in station soon.

Activities Upcoming

Naturalist Chris Bartley has a busy summer scheduled for Watoga. Look for another blog post about Naturalist activities.

The Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge is scheduled for Aug 11, 2018. Hence, a volunteer coordinator is needed for that event.

Gail Hyre from Watoga Art in the Park visited the meeting to discuss this year’s program. The 2nd annual Watoga Art in the Park is to be held Sept 1 & 2, 2018 at Watoga State Park. https://watogaartinthepark.com/

New trail signs have come in and volunteer help would be welcomed to install the new trail signs.

Watoga Naturalist Activities Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Watoga State Park is offering Naturalist Activities throughout the 2018 Memorial Day Weekend.  Join us!

Friday May 25, 2018

3 PM  History Hike

Watoga has a long rich history even from the time before its official opening as a Park 80 years ago.  Join Park Naturalist Christopher Bartley near Park Headquarters building for a 1.5 mile walk around the lake.  Please wear closed toe shoes and bring along something to drink.

7 PM What’s Bugging You

Dragon FliesHave you seen an insect that you never saw  or one you did not know what it was?  Meet us at the Nature Center located near the swimming pool park lot as we explore the insects we have around us.  Afterward, we will look at our surroundings and see what tiny creatures we can find.

9 PM Float Your Boat

Cap the evening off with a peaceful and relaxing evening on the lake as we learn about nocturnal animals, park history, star gazing, and anything else you would like to talk about.  You can choose to take a paddleboat out, or bring you own watercraft.  Sign up and purchase a ticket in the main office for $5 per boat.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

1 PM Watoga Wildlife: Birds

Join Naturalist Chris Bartley at the Nature Center, located beside the Activities Building near the swimming pool parking lot and learn about our feathered friends that can be found in the area.  You can also hear the different sounds that each bird makes and see if you can identify what each bird is.  Kids can also make a fun craft.

3 PM  Nest in Peace

Want to be able to attract song birds to the own backyard?  Meet Naturalist Chris Barley by the Nature Center located near the Activities Building and Swimming Pool parking lot to build a bird house.  Each kit is $10 and all materials are provided.

7 PM Campfire Cookery

Join Watoga staff for an evening of fun and fellowship at the Riverside Campground behind the check-in station.  Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on as we cook up some dessert in a Dutch over over a campfire.  All ages are welcome and will be able to sample the banana bread we make.

9 PM Stories and S’mores

Wind down from the day and enjoy your time sitting around the campfire ring at Riverside Campground behind the check-in station.  We will have marshmallows to roast and  all the fixings to make s’mores.  Campfire stories are encouraged as long as they are family friendly and appropriate.

Sunday May 27, 2018

11 AM Worship Service

Earth from spaceMeet us at the Amphitheatre located behind the Activities Building near the Swimming Pool parking lot for a non-denominational worship service.  In the event of rain we will relocate inside the Activities Building.

1 PM Watoga Wildlife:  Salamanders

Join us at the Nature Center located beside the Activities Building near the swimming pool parking lot and learn about these snake-like amphibians with legs.  Afterward, we will take a small walk to look for and identify the salamanders found in the area.

3 PM  Tie Dye T-Shirts

Have some fun with art and make a keepsake to take home to remind you of your time here with a Watoga State Park Tie Dye T-Shirt.  Please sign up in the main office and bring your ticket with you to the Activities Building.  Cost of shirt will be $8 or $10 depending on size.  Shirt sizes from Youth Small to Adult 3XL

7PM  Family Movie Night

Join Park staff for a family fun evening at the Picnic Shelter area as we watch a family friendly movie on our inflatable movie screen.  Be sure to bring a lawn chair or something to sit on.  Popcorn will be provided.

9PM  Owl Prowl

Portrait of an owlMeet Park staff at the Picnic Shelter area as we go on a short walk looking and listening for owls.  We will be using different calls for each of the different species of owls in the area to entice these birds of prey to come in.  Be sure to wear closed toe shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Watoga Events 2018

Here is a listing of Watoga Events 2018.  Fun for your and your family!

Watoga Geocaching

Watoga Geocaching EventWatoga will host their second annual geocache weekend, with over 25 geocaches currently hidden, and at least 20 more hidden throughout the park. Many will have a first to find prize, and all will be available on the geocaching website. If you would like to input coordinates manually into a GPS, we will have those available in the main office. Come enjoy your time at the park exploring, hiking along the trails, and having fun geocaching. Call the park today at (304) 799-4087 to rent a cabin for the weekend to find all the geocaches hidden, and see what Watoga has to offer!

Kid’s Fishing Derby

Calling all anglers 13 and younger! Watoga will be hosting their annual Kid’s Fishing Derby again this year. The fishing derby will begin at 10:00am, with registration starting at 9:30am at the swimming pool parking lot, which is walking distance from where the derby will be held. Fishing derby will conclude at 1:00pm with awards and certificates being distributed shortly after. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

National Trails Day

Come and enjoy any of our 40+ miles of hiking trails available in the park. On this day, we will lead a hike to the Ann Bailey watchtower. This guided hike will begin at 9:00 am meeting at the Ann Bailey trailhead. Please plan to bring water, a packed lunch/snacks, and wear closed-toed shoes. For additional information and to make reservations, be sure to call the park main office.

Three Rivers Avian Center

Watoga State Park is pleased to welcome back the Three Rivers Avian Center to thThree Rivers Avian Center Evente Recreation Building. There will be a presentation beginning at 7:00pm with live birds of prey, including owls, hawks, and eagles. Join us for an evening event that will be fun for all ages. Be sure to reserve your cabin today for this event!

Back to School Bash and Pool Party

As we get closer to the end of summer, it’s time to have one last bit of fun in the sun before school starts. Come join us by the pool as we soak in the rays from 1:00pm – 6:00pm Music, games, food and drinks, and giveaway prizes are just some of the fun in store. For more information and to make cabin or campground reservations, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge Races

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge RacesWith two different races, the Mountain Trails Challenge is a great way to see the trails at Watoga. The races consist of a challenging 5K and a Half Marathon. The 5K is a great introduction to trail running. The Half Marathon is a great challenge for even the most avid runner. Both races will begin at 8:30am, and will leave from the Beaver Creek Campground check-in station. This event is sponsored by the Watoga State Park Foundation. For more information, and to see a map of the race course, please visit the official website www.watogafoundation.org/race. Call the park office today to make your reservations for your cabin or campsite!

Disk Golf Tournament

Grab your Frisbees and head over to the first Disc Golf Tournament being held at the park. Our nine hole course is nestled in the woods, and is sure to challenge any team. Registration will begin at 9:00am, with the tournament beginning at 10:00am. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087

Watoga Art In The Park

Watoga will once again host their Art in the Park Festival weekend. This weekend will feature lots of arts and crafts from juried artists. From live demonstrations, music, art for sale, food, and an area for the kids, there is something for everyone! The event will be held at the Picnic Shelter area. For more information about the event, please visit the official Facebook page. Call today to reserve your cabin for this fantastic event at (304) 799-4087.

Welcome to Watoga!

We have great places to stay and great places to play!  Welcome to Watoga!



Reserve campsite call 304-799-4087 8am to 4pm 

Reserve Cabin

Hope you can be here a few minutes.  Get to know us a little.  We have the most return visitors of any West Virginia State Park.  Come see us soon!

Stay at  Watoga

Check out what people say about our cabins  and our campgrounds

If you are looking for a hiking wilderness adventure, check this one out

Something a little more tame?

We have a kids friendly swimming pool and great playgrounds.  Paddle boats on the lake.  Amazing mountaintop overlooks.  Best soft serve ice cream in the universe at Jack Horner’s Corner in Seebert.   Beautiful mountain valley around nearby Hillsboro, WV.

Experience Watoga’s old growth forest!

Watoga State Park is 10,000 acres.  The southwestern section of the Park is unmaintained Wilderness.  Hike the Burnside Ridge Trail to access this area.  Allow yourself several hours to get out and back.  Further south from this area is the Spice Run Wilderness Area of the Monongahela National Forest.

Monongaseneka Overlook of Greenbrier River Feb, 2018
Overlook of Greenbrier River from Monongaseneka Trail

Read Ken Springer’s articles here on trail conditions, park history, and natural history.

If you have questions, be sure to contact us.