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

Memories of Horseback Riding at Watoga State Park

Some of you generously shared your recollections of riding the trail at Watoga State Park.  Others also shared information about who ran the operation and some ideas about its demise.  Memories of Horseback Riding at Watoga State Park

I am told the riding operation was run by Stuart Horner’s father.  Stuart and his wife Kristy currently run the iconic Horner’s Corner, a familiar sight to visitors as they pass through the village of Seebert en-route to Watoga.

It has also been confirmed that the high cost of liability insurance finally brought this popular activity to a close. The horse trails have been resurrected as the Busch Settlement and The Bonnie Trails and are now serving the public as wonderful hiking trails.

Well, we still have our memories of things that are no more, and here are yours.

Memories of Horseback Riding at Watoga State Park

“I remember the horseback riding very fondly!  Went a few times when I was little during one of our Spencer Family Reunions.  It was a real treat back then. We often would also just go over to visit the horses at the fence line if we were walking the trail between there and the Rec Center. We were so so sad when the horses left but happy to have the memories” Krin Goodwin Hupp

“I remember going to my Grandmas house in the summer when school was out and went swimming and horseback riding. Always like doing that with Grandma Burr. My uncle buck (Henry), his son Dewey and my Cousin Mike Pyne all work there and Dewey still does” Thomas Purdy

A Newly Wed’s Story

“ I do have a Watoga horseback riding story. My husband and I spent our week long honeymoon in a cabin at Watoga. I am the “horse person” between us two, but talked him into doing the “one hour” trail ride one day. A couple days later, I wanted to go again, but he wasn’t quite as interested. When we got to the stables, we were still discussing it, and the 2 men that worked the stables then overheard us. They knew from our first ride that I was an experienced rider, and said that they hadn’t been on the “two hour” trail yet that early in the year (it was May) and if I wanted to go, they’d charge me less, since some clearing of the trail, or going around downed trees might be involved.

My husband saw I wanted to do it, and gracefully let me know he’d be fine with it, but he didn’t want to go. So, on my honeymoon, I went on a 2+ hour trail ride, just me and the 2 “stable hands”. I should have known I’d never live it down, as it turned out, I got pregnant on our honeymoon, and my husband joked that our firstborn son belonged to a stable hand! He blamed the other 2 on the mailman and the UPS driver…but he can’t deny a single one of them, as they all 3 look like him, But I did enjoy the trail ride! And miss horseback riding being available like it used to be, but as a horse owner myself now, I understand the difficulties” Sheila Murphy Weakley

More Memories of Horseback Riding at Watoga State Park

“I still remember my favorite horse to ride back then. His name was Blaze! What fun it was back then.” Meg Goodwin Berger
“In the 1950’s horseback riding was very popular. The first summer (1956) I worked at Watoga there was a very bad accident. A couple on their honeymoon was riding and the horse the man was spooked by a snake and threw the man. The fall broke his back, we never heard if he was able to walk again.

One night a week there was square dancing in the upstairs with a live band and on other nights we had a jukebox and cabin guests came up and we danced. I believe the reason horses are not there now is because the insurance is so expensive. Lost River still has horseback riding. Had some good times in that barn. After the guests left for the evening the help learned how to trip the jukebox and danced later”. Charlotte McKeever Emswiler

“I believe the horseback riding stopped due to continued budget cuts. In the end, the state was contracting with individuals and their horses and it was just too costly. As far as the trail name, I think your name sounds much fancier than plain old “Possum” Trail”. Lisa Miller Rich

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 March 7, 2018: Old Growth

Bongo, Daisy and their manservant left their collective tracks in the snow this morning as they ascended the NW section of Honey Bee Trail. The recent winds have dropped many trees and branches on Watoga’s trails but we managed to clear all on this part of Honey Bee Trail save a 14 inch oak lying flush with the trail about 1 1/4 miles from the trailhead.  Old Growth.

Old Growth

Now that the existence of old growth trees in Watoga State Park has been confirmed I find myself constantly looking for the large trees. The largest oak spotted today in the Arboretum was well under 30 inches in diameter and the average was probably in the 12 inch range. Grand trees for sure, but the ones in the old growth area have a century or two head start on these youngsters.

Bongo and Daisy on the Honeybee Trail Watoga State ParkIf I were to tell you that Bongo and Daisy dragged this downed tree off the trail, you may not believe me. Therefore I will take the credit for it and give them a treat as recompense.

Happy Hiking,

Ken Springer

Bongo and Daisy looking for Old Growth at Watoga State Park

Watoga Trail Report March 4, 2018: Family Reunion Central

If the Bear Pen Trail is any indication of the current condition of the rest of the trails at Watoga State Park then the trail volunteers are in for a big clean-up task.  Cleaning large branches and trees off the section of the trail from the trailhead to just the junction of Buck and Doe took nearly 2 hours.  Praise be the person who invented the z-rig.   Family Reunion Central.

Last week’s “Watoga- Where Is It ?” photograph of the memorial plaque at the T.M. Cheek overlook has a backstory.  And I will share it with you.

Family Reunion Central

Char Weise has a long family history at Watoga State Park dating back to
his great grandfather who lived in Renick, WV.  Great Grandfather Weise started a grand tradition of annual family reunions at Watoga.  These family gatherings continue to this very day as the family has grown through many generations.  At one such reunion some years back they filled every cabin in the park.

Here is how Mr. Weise recounts how that familiar landmark came to rest at the T.M. Cheek overlook:

Char Weise’s Story

“Our family has been coming to Watoga every year for the Spencer family reunion since 1963.  From the late 1960’s at least, our family usually spent the week in Cabin 21.  The trail up to TM Cheek from Cabin 21, which was then called the Honeymoon trail, was my parents’ favorite walk.  They’d often go up there early in the morning while my brothers and sisters and I were still asleep and look at the view from the overlook.  It was still their favorite walk in their later years.  My Mom died in 1995 and my Dad in 1997.

We asked for the plaque to be installed around 2005.  The superintendent, Mark Wylie, told us that there was an interest in reintroducing American chestnuts, which had been wiped out in a blight many years ago, to the park.  We thought planting some chestnuts at that spot would be a fitting tribute to our dad, who was a biologist with a great interest in conservation.  Now every year when we come to Watoga, my siblings and I and our spouses and kids make sure to hike to TM Cheek in the morning, up the trail that our parents loved, to think about them and pay our respects.”

TM Cheek Overlook at Weise Chestnut Watoga State ParkThanks to Char Weise and John and Margy Goodwin for this bit of history about a park that just seems to bring forth such wonderful memories.  Let us hope that many more generations will be able to experience the joy and beauty of being in West Virginia’s largest and best park.

Plaque commemorating Charles and Joan Weise TM Cheek Overlook Watoga State Park

Happy Hiking,

Ken Springer

Return of American Chestnut

This is a follow-up to our recent discussion about the loss of the American Chestnut to a blight.  Therefore, I would like to address efforts to restore this majestic tree to our forest.  The return of the American Chestnut.

The American Chestnut Foundation and the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project have made great strides in developing a blight resistant chestnut.   Furthermore, they have the same qualities of the original tree through breeding and transgenic programs.

There is hope that future Americans and wildlife will once again enjoy all that the American Chestnut has to offer.  If you are interested in the restoration of the American Chestnut, I highly recommend this 15 minute Ted Talk on these efforts.

Learn More About the Return of the American Chestnut