From Nature to Au Natural, National Trails Day Has Hikes for All

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West Virginia's observance of National Trails Day on Saturday will include guided hikes geared to both nature lovers and those who prefer hiking au natural.

The day's events begin at 8 a.m. at Watters Smith Memorial State Park in Harrison County, where park Superintendent Andy Bennett will lead a hike starting from the park's activity building to look for songbirds and birds of prey. Following the free hike, refreshments and prizes will be given away.

At 9 a.m. at Twin Falls State Park in Wyoming County, park naturalist Bryan Danford will lead a trail maintenance and clean-up project, followed at 1 p.m. by a plant identification and tracking session, a guided hike along Horsepen Knob Trail, and a guided bike ride along several park trails. Water and snacks will be provided throughout the day, but participants are urged to bring their own lunches and work gloves. Meeting point for the maintenance project will be the park's ball field area. For more information, call 304- 294-4000.

Also beginning at 9 a.m. is Cacapon Resort State Park's "Hike Across West Virginia," a 10-mile trek across the top of Cacapon Mountain that takes hikers virtually from border-to-border across the narrowest portion of the state's Eastern Panhandle. Hikers should bring water and snacks. For more information, call park naturalist Renee Fincham at 304-258-1022.

At 10 a.m., Pipestem Resort State Park naturalist Jim Phillips will lead a 90-minute plant and bird identification hike starting from Pipestem's Canyon Rim Center. For details, call 304-466-1800, extension 344.

Also at 10 a.m., starting from the bottom of Pipestem's tramway, a National Park Service ranger will lead a 10-mile hike through Bluestone National Scenic River, following the Bluestone Turnpike Trail. The hike ends at Bluestone State Park, where a free shuttle will carry hikes back to the tramway parking lot at Pipestem. Hikers are urged to bring a lunch and plenty of water.

Starting at 1 p.m., perhaps the most unique event in the state's National Trails Day observance will begin at the Avalon Resort near Paw Paw in Morgan County. Avalon, a clothes-optional venue, is sponsoring a "Bare Hike" along a trail of more than two miles. According to an event description posted on the National Trails Day events calendar, "Hiking boots or shoes will be needed, but otherwise, enjoy the great outdoors in the raw! No fee for this event, but you must make a reservation (and receive directions to the trailhead) by calling 304-947-5600."

At North Bend State Park in Ritchie County, park officials have added a variety of outdoor recreation activities to enhance the annual National Trails Day observance and create a three-day "Family Trails" program at the park. …