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.

 

Watoga Trail Report June 28, 2018 Update

Watoga Trail Report June 28, 2018 Update.  It felt wonderful to get back out Watoga’s trails.  This morning ended a month- long convalescence from rib fractures sustained on the Bear Pen Loop.  My dog Bongo felt it would be a good idea to go right back out on the same trail.  Sort of a “get back in the saddle” suggestion.  And, as usual, he was spot on.  We cleaned all but 2 trees that will require another visit with rope and pulleys.

First Chanterelle of the  Season!

Whilst working the Bear Pen Loop I found my first ChanterelleFirst chanterelle of the season of the season up on the North Boundary Trail, and as a bonus came upon this trio of Quilted RussulasQuilted Russula just a few yards on down the trail. Both of these species of mushrooms are about as flavorful a wild treat as one can find here in the Appalachians.

These delicacies are destined for a dish called a Spanish Tortilla, which has nothing to do with the flat corn Mexican tortilla associated with tacos. Instead, the Spanish tortilla is an egg, potato, cheese and mushroom dish cooked in a cast iron skillet. Don’t forget the wine Laura and Margot.

Yesterday in another part of the park Mark Mengele was transporting a work crew consisting of David Elliott, Ken Hiser and his friend Matt out the Ann Bailey Trail in Mark’s restored Dodge Power Wagon (sorry no pictures yet, hint, hint) to the Workman Cabin.

They spent the morning hours weed-eating the area around the cabin, and removing the large tree that had fallen across Rock Run in front of the cabin. David remarked that they “left a tidy mountain homestead for visiting hikers to enjoy”.

And that reminds me; we need to get down at the other end of Rock Run and clean up those nasty stinging nettles. Pity the poor hiker that heads up Jesse’s Cove with shorts on.

Finally, I ran into Mac Gray this morning on the entrance road involved in a worthy project: He is photographing all of Watoga’s cabins, inside and out. He is always thinking about something called “posterity”.

Well that’s the news from Lake Wobeg…., Whoops, I mean Watoga State Park.

Happy Hiking,

Ken Springer

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.

May 2018 Watoga Trails Update

May 2018 Watoga Trails Update

Report From Brian Hirt, trail volunteer:

“I finally got some spare time and the weather cooperated. So I spent Friday and most of Saturday doing some trail maintenance and cleanup projects in and around Watoga.  Started out Friday morning clearing fallen trees from the landing strip at Beaver Creek.  Then moved onto the Allegheny Trail.  I removed fallen fallen trees on the mile and a half stretch of trail  parallel to Chicken House Run Road.

Yesterday I was at Laurel Run campground.  A couple of pine trees had fallen on campsite #9 sometime over the winter.  I removed them and moved the slash out of the away of the campsite.  After that went up I went up Kennison Run trail from the campground a mile with lopper’s cutting out saplings and undergrowth along the trail.  Some of the creek crossings were a little tough to manage from recent heavy rains.  A lot of debris had washed down and stream banks had eroded.  Trail’s that follow creeks I guess have an ever changing landscape. There wasn’t any fallen trees to deal with as far as I got before deciding to turning back as a thunderstorm approached in the distance.

The blazes on both the Allegheny and Kennison Run Trails are in fair condition.  Bboth could stand to be refreshed in a few locations.  Fortunately both are yellow so I’ll add this to my list of things to do.  I’ve never painted blazes of yellow circle’s on trees in the past.  It’s been always 2 x 6 rectangles.  Might take some practice. But maybe you can teach and old dog new tricks.”

Other News

Mark Mengele is continuing efforts to conduct a bird survey of the Rock Run watershed at Watoga State Park, also known as the Old Growth Area. The plan is to get experienced birders out there at various times of the year, and over the next couple of weeks they will be surveying breeding birds.

While the birds are breeding the plants and trees of Watoga are pursuing their single-minded agenda of reproduction. Fertility and distribution are a top priority for plant life at this time of the year. With that in mind today’s photographs take a close look at several prominent blooms with an unabashed look at their reproductive parts.

Mountain Laurel BloomThe ephemeral mountain laurel bloom so petite and beautiful looks like a hand painted porcelain miniature.

 

 

 

Black Raspberry BloomThe flower of the blackberry offers promises of a seasonal flavor to grace our morning cereal, or in dishes with names like cobbler, pie, strudel, tart and turnover

 

 

Tulip Tree BloomThe bloom of the tulip poplar is usually viewed high up in the tree, but this time brought down by wind and rain for a closer look.

 

 

 

Hiking allows us the opportunity to stop and take in the finer details of nature. There is not a better way to “be in the moment” than a hike in the woods.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Horners’s Corner

For the last 21 years visitors to Watoga State Park have driven by Jack Horner’s Corner as they make their way through the village of Seebert, the gateway to the park and a major trailhead on the Greenbrier River Trail. Longtime visitors have observed the steady growth of the building and parking areas; the old building removed, decks added for dining with a view of the river and bike path. Horner’s Corner is strikingly colorful with stacks of kayaks, floatation devices and bicycles.

Stewart & Chissie Horner proprietors of Jack Horner's Corner Seebert, WVStewart and Chrissie are at the helm of this growth, anticipating the needs of the community and the thousands of visitors who stop by every season, which for Horner’s corner is sometime in April until November. This large, well designed building houses a pizza and sub parlor, a huge array of souvenirs touting Watoga State Park and the Greenbrier River Trail as well as basic groceries and drinks.

Kayak Rental and more…

You can stop in to rent a kayak for a river trip on the Greenbrier River and arrange a shuttle. The same service is offered for those wishing to ride a bike on the 80 mile Greenbrier River Trail.

Their ice cream cones have become legendary; I have never been in there in the summer months without a queue waiting for a cool treat. One chap who wanted to remain anonymous told me he cannot go past the place without getting an ice cream cone. OK you have twisted my arm; it is Mac Gray. Mac lives just a few doors down so that amounts to a heck of a lot of ice cream. Sorry Mac, I am terrible at keeping my sources confidential.

Arrowheads at Watoga

Arrowheads at Watoga

Background

Consider the trails currently existing in Watoga State Park.  Some of these are assumed from existing pioneer trails. And those early but historical trails may have been appropriated from trails trod by the ancients. We now call them Native Americans.  After all, the terrain forces us to take the path of least resistance. So it is reasonable to assume that there is a certain logic to the path one takes to get from one place to another.  Trails were important to ancient people for hunting, trade, socializing and annual migrations.

So I was not surprised when I found an arrowhead on Monongaseneka Trail recently.  Finding an arrowhead is a singularly profound experience. Consider the last human to touch it was an Indian who lived and hunted in these mountains hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago.  So, what can we infer about this person by the artifact that he left behind?

Details of the Found Arrowhead

We may be able to determine an approximation of the age of the point by the material it is made of and its design. This point is a stemmed point referring to the square elongation at its base. The color and quality of the flint suggest it may have come from flint found in the Lewisburg area. And finally the design indicates it may be Archaic, a group of Native Americans who lived in settlements in our area in the period from 9000 BC to 4500 BC.  An archaeologist or a collector may have more accurate information.  But it is probably not a tool that belonged to historic native groups, such as Shawnee.

Is it truly an arrowhead ? Was it attached to an arrow shaft and shot from a bow?  Probably not.  Only a small percentage of flint points were used on arrows. Furthermore, it was not until about 1400 years ago when the bow and arrow found its way to the western hemisphere.

Flint points were manufactured for a variety of uses including scrapers, knives, bow drills for making fires and drilling holes, and for spears. This point may have been a spear point, meaning it is attached to a wooden shaft and cast using a spear thrower called an atlatl.

This fine point is on display at the Watoga Nature Center.  It is a reminder of the people of many purposes, languages and customs who traversed these same mountain trails that we do to this very day.

It goes without saying that the removal of any historic or prehistoric artifact in any West Virginia State Park is unlawful and deprives the public of its cultural value.

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.

Monongaseneka Trail

Have you ever ventured out on Monongaseneka Trail here at Watoga State Park?  I highly recommend it. The trailhead is located a mere 1/2 mile up the main park entrance road.  Just after crossing the newly restored bridge across Isle Lick you will see the parking area on the right, with the start of the trail across the road and on your left.

Monongaseneka Trail Overlook at Watoga State ParkThis 2 1/2 mile trail follows switchbacks up the mountain, drops down into Jeff’s Hollow before ascending again to the main ridge high above Seebert and the Greenbrier River. From here you can hike the Overlook Loop out to the overlook where you can sit a spell on the benches before resuming your hike out to the North Boundary Trail.

Monongaseneka Trail Options

The are several ways you can make this a longer day hike by shuttling a car to Bear Pen Trail or the parking area at the picnic shelter. My favorite way of hiking this trail is to leave a bicycle at the park headquarters, then drive down to the Mongaseneka trailhead and leave your car there. Hike up Monongaseneka to North Boundary Trail, Down Bear Pen Trail all the way to Watoga Lake. From here you can hike the Lake Trail either direction until arriving at the park headquarters.

Now this is where the fun begins: you have just completed a long and beautiful hike and now you get on your bicycle and coast down the main entrance road back to your car. The whole while Isle Lick is noisily alternating from one side of the road to the other; a series of cascades and pools. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I spent a couple days up on Monongaseneka trimming striped maple and removing smaller debris off the trail. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the new benches at the Monongaseneka Overlook, courtesy of John Casto and crew.  A selfie is something I am not inclined to do, in large part because I do not want to mar the great scenery. So instead I borrowed Mr. Frog from one of my dogs and created a “frog’s eye view ” from the overlook.

Jeff Hollow

The largish double-trunk tree can be found in Jeff’s Hollow along with many others of similar size. There is a palpable sense of entering a special place here which can only be felt by being here; it is hard to translate the feeling with mere words. Some places just seem to be sacred; when there we are quite sure that there is a spiritual dimension to the deep wood. And for a while we carry that feeling with us until it beckons us back again.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

Emerald Ash Borer Critically Endangers Ash Tree

Feeding Trails of Emerald Ash BorerAncient Petroglyphs found In Watoga State Park? No, these are the feeding trails of the Emerald Ash Borer.  In this case the Emerald Ash Borer is responsible for perpetrating a trick on the human brain, pareidolia. We humans instinctively seek patterns in nearly everything we see. For example, I see an abstract horned creature in one photograph and a coyote in the other.

Emerald Ash Borer LarvaeThe sad truth is that the ash tree is being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer at a rate not seen in any one species of tree since the Chestnut Blight of the early 1900s. The white ash is considered “critically endangered” and the population decline is expected to be 80% over the next 100 years. As one forester wryly put it ” Without divine intervention we can kiss our ashes goodbye”.

Emerald Ash BorerWhen the Emerald Ash Borer enters the tree it lays eggs. The emerging larvae attack the phloem essentially girdling the tree. They attack trees as small as 2.5 cm in diameter, long before it is mature enough to produce viable seed.   This virtually ensures 100% mortality of the species.  Emerald Ash Borer Critically Endangers Ash Trees.

Invaluable Qualities of White Ash Wood

White ash is valued for its strength and straight grain. It is used for everything from furniture to tennis rackets and baseball bats. I have an old pair of snowshoes that hang on my wall.  They are made of ash. We will miss this tree just as we miss the chestnut, the elm and all the other species that have been the victims of parasitic attack.

In ways we are not now aware of we will sorely miss all of the wild things that go the way of the passenger pigeon. When the last ash tree is gone, we will be all the poorer for it.

With that in mind I leave you with a poem that speaks to the love, utility and admiration of the Ash tree.

The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

By Lady Celia Congreve

Keep on hiking my friends,
Ken Springer

Watoga is Now Part of the Old Growth Forest Network

Watoga State Park  has a new distinction.  It was made official yesterday when Park Superintendent Jody Spencer received a plaque giving Watoga State Park an Old Growth Forest designation.  Dr. Joan Maloof, Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, made the presentation yesterday at the Ann Bailey Trailhead.   Now Watoga is part of the Old Growth Forest Network.old growth forest canopy Watoga part of Old Growth Forest Netword

Dr. Maloof spoke to an assembled group of local park advocates about the need to protect the old growth forests for future generations. She stated that old growth is a diminishing resource making up less than one percent of our eastern forests. Dr. Maloof emphasized the importance of introducing young people to the beauty and unique characteristics of old growth forests.   Consequently,  they will continue to protect these areas for many generations to come.

Watoga is now part of the Old Growth Forest Network

Following the presentation the group went on a guided hike to view a portion of Watoga’s old growth area. Watoga State Park is fortunate to have existing trails that are in close proximity to the large trees so that visitors to the park will have the opportunity to see their natural heritage up close.
We always knew that Watoga State Park is a very special place, and now it is even more so.

Joan Maloof, Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to preserve, protect and promote the country’s few remaining stands of old-growth forest.

 

Professor Maloof states:

I am not opposed to harvesting trees for board and fiber, but as an ecologist I know that when we do we are sacrificing biodiversity. What I came to realize is that we are also sacrificing beauty. A certain amount of sacrifice may be necessary – all animals influence their surroundings – but there should also be places left to nature’s processes, if only so we may witness how nature works; if only so we may enjoy the beauty and the wonder of such places. It is these left-alone places that are refuges for birds, and butterflies, and animals of all kinds. We humans depend on them to clean our air and water and protect our climate.

Watoga is now part of the Old Growth Forest Network.  For more information on the Old-Growth Forest Network go to:
www.OldGrowthForest.net