SPRING BREAK TRIPPIN’
Spring has sprung and who’s feeling like taking a break after the long, gray, rainy winter?
Everybody? OK, so let’s get to it then.
While this week Mountwest Community and Technical College students are on spring break, next week it’s the spring break turn for Marshall University, Cabell County Schools and many other counties in West Virginia.
With that in mind, here’s a few ideas for some day-trip ideas and spring break fun from our Dave Trippin’ crew. And go online at https://www.facebook.com/DaveTrippin for even more spring break and travel ideas.
Arching on over to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge
One of our favorite regional spring break trips was to the Red River Gorge in southeastern Kentucky. Only two hours away, the Red River Gorge offers world-class hiking and outdoor fun. You can do the trip in one day but there’s no reason to since there are some economical places to stay to make it a multiple day trip.
Home to the most natural arches east of the Rockies, the Red River Gorge offers some spectacular hiking, and this time of year is a great time to visit before the trees bud out, obstructing the views, and before the fair-weather crowds.
Stop by the Powell County/Red River Gorge Visitors Center (gopoco.org) to pick up a guide (redrivergorgeguide.com). A must-do while in the Gorge is taking the loop road, Kentucky 77/715 (The Red River Gorge National Scenic Byway) through the 900-foot-long Nada Tunnel that was built between 1910-11.
Along the Scenic Byway there are dozens of places to pull off and access arches such as Gray’s Arch, Sky Bridge, Angel Windows, Whistling Arch and
Chimney Top. Our favorite hike on a recent trip over New Year’s was Rock Bridge Arch. Take U.S. Forest Service Road 24 into Clifty Wilderness to access this loop trail that not only has an arch (over a creek) but also a spectacular waterfall.
A good point of entry for first-time Red River Gorge goers is Natural Bridge Resort State Park where you can stay at the lodge. The restaurant has a wild game dinner on March 23 as well as a guided hike to Natural Bridge. Some great places to dine include Sky Bridge Station (which also has live music and craft brews) as well as the more seasonal Miguel’s Pizza.
There’s also zip lines, canoeing/kayaking (even underground at Gorge Underground), live music at nearby Meadowgreen Music Park and much more.
Go back to the ‘Time of the Pharaohs’ in Cincinnati
Cincinnati is only three hours away with some incredible attractions on both sides of the Ohio River including the Newport Aquarium (across the river in Newport, Kentucky — also home to Pompilio’s, where they filmed part of the famous Huntington-related film “Rain Man”).
One of the flagship attractions is the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), which is the 17th most visited museum in the country for good reason.
The CMC, located in the beautiful and historic Union Terminal, has reeled in another spectacular exhibit. Making its debut in the U.S. is “Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs,” the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts ever traveled. The exhibit features more than 350 original artifacts, some dating back 4,500 years. Among the featured artifacts are the sphinx head of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the longest-ruling female pharaoh; the coffin of Nakht, giving insight into ancient Egyptian religious beliefs through ornate decorations; and the mummy of Ta-khar, an elaborately embalmed mummy of a wealthy elderly woman from Thebes. The exhibit also has detailed models of once-lost cities and landscapes, vivid interactive multimedia elements, like the world’s first full-size 3D hologram of a mummy.
With Ohio and Kentucky area school kids in session, this is prime time to hit this exhibit, which is open through Aug. 18. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org.
Do go chasing waterfalls
On the soggy heels of what was the rainiest year on record in Charleston and the second rainiest year on record in Huntington, we have been taking advantage of our near continuous waterfall factory weather.
We have been keeping two books handy in our Subaru. Those are the brand-new second edition of Randall Sanger’s “Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia” and the older but also well done “Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia: A Hiking and Photography Guide,” by Kevin Adams.
Just a couple waterfall gems to point out from recent trips. A trip to Morgantown included a stop off at Valley Falls State Park (yeah, yeah, everybody knows that) but Sanger’s book has details back to the truly secluded Twin Falls, which is accessed on a 1.9-mile round-trip hike on the Rhododendron Trail at Valley Falls. The beautiful falls are just a short footpath off that trail which leads down to Glady Creek. (Download the All Trails app to help you navigate there.)
Another really scenic falls of note we hit this winter in the Mountain Lakes Region and on a trip back from Stonewall Resort was Wildcat Falls (also on Glady Creek) and located just past the town of Ireland. It is located off Green Hill Road.
Go online at https://www.randallsanger.com/The-Books/n-9fHCsD to order Sanger’s book and start your own waterfall checklist.
Get some final tracks in at Winterplace and Snowshoe
Although Timberline and Canaan Valley have closed the slopes for the season, there’s still skiing to be found at Snowshoe Mountain and at Winterplace.
Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent, West Virginia, is continuing its season through Saturday, March 23. The ski resort, which features 27 trails (23 were open earlier this week) is also home to West Virginia’s largest tubing park.
The resort will be open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily with late-season rates in effect. Go online at www.winterplace.com for more information.
Snowshoe Mountain will continue daily operations through Sunday, March 31. This weekend, at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 23, don’t miss the annual wacky Pond Skimming contests as prizes will be awarded for King and Queen of the Pond, Youth Division, Best Costume and Sorriest Skimmer. Don’t forget your costumes.
As a sign of appreciation for winter visitors to the Mountain State, from March 25-31 Snowshoe is offering $20 lift tickets to anyone who holds a season pass to another West Virginia ski area that is already closed for the season. Guests who don’t have a season pass can still get advance tickets for as low as $30.
Go online at www.snowshoemountain.com for more info. If you decide to head up to Pocahontas County with the kids, be sure to stop by the Green Bank Observatory as well as such great area state parks as Watoga, Beartown and Droop Mountain. Go online at https://www.pocahontascountywv.com/ for more info.
A great cave escape
For a quick day trip and otherworldly getaway, head down into the underground at Carter Caves State Resort Park, just 45 minutes west of Huntington in Olive Hill, Kentucky.
Through Sunday, March 24, the park is under their winter cave schedule, which has daily tours to both X Cave (a 45-minute-long tour) and home to the park’s largest formation, as well as Cascade Cavern (a 75-minute-longtour) which has some incredible rooms, passages and an underground waterfall.
There’s also the lodge, cabins and restaurant at the lodge. Go online at parks.ky.gov and click onto Carter Caves on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Carter-CavesStateResortPark/ or call 606-286-4411.
Spring Seed and Water Music Peace Summit
Head up to Serpent Mound in Peebles (just north of Portsmouth, Ohio) where the Friends of Serpent Mound are hosting a weekend festival and celebration, “Serpent Mound Star Knowledge Spring Seed & Water Music Peace Summit,” from March 21-24.
The celebration will take place at the Soaring Eagle Retreat, Horner Chappell Road, Peebles, Ohio, a primitive private property connected to the Serpent Mound.
This celebration will include Chief Golden Light Eagle, Azteca dancers, drumming, story telling, seed blessing and water ceremonies, many musicians, sound healers, workshops, speakers, vendors and more. No drinking or drugs allowed. Tickets are $11 in advance or $15 a day at the door. Camping spots are $22 a night or $33 a night. Please bring food to share and bring your own cup, bowl, knives and forks. Contact Carla Poluha email@example.com.
Go online at http://arcofappalachia.org/visit/serpent-mound/ to find out more about Serpent Mound.
Head out to help out at area state parks
If you’re staying local, earn some school service hours and get in a good hike at Beech Fork State Park just south of Huntington, at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23.
Meet up at the park headquarters at 10 a.m. for this cleanup, which is sponsored by the Beech Fork State Park Foundation. They will be clearing fallen trees and picking up litter and debris along the water trail. They will start at headquarters and walk the trail to the normal launch site (about 3 miles). Make a weekend of it as Lakeview camping opens up starting Friday, March 22.
Go online at https://www.facebook.com/bfspf to find out more about the Foundation.
Over in southern Ohio, Shawnee State Park, north of Portsmouth, is having its Spring Clean from March 25-30 and will have a spring picnic at noon Saturday, March 30. Trash bags and gloves provided. Call 740-858-6652 to schedule a time for your group.
Discover Legoland in Ohio
Back in the fall, the Easton Town Center in Columbus opened up the new Legoland Discovery Center. The 36,000-square-foot indoor attraction features two interactive rides, a 4D Cinema, 10 Lego play zones, Miniland Ohio, birthday party rooms and, through March 31, a celebration of the “LEGO Movie II.”
Families with children ages 3-10 will enjoy a world of creativity, color and building fun in the Ultimate Indoor Lego Playground. Single-day admission passes, annualpasses and birthday party packages are on sale at https://columbus.legolanddiscoverycenter.com.
For those with small kids, don’t forget other Columbus area attractions including the world famous Columbus Zoo and COSI, which features the new American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery.
Go online at https://www.experiencecolumbus.com/.
‘Fallout 76’ road trips
Zip around West Virginia for some day trips to find out more about some of the things that are highlighted in the video game “Fallout 76.”
While Camden Park is not yet open for the season, you can head north to Point Pleasant where the Mothman Museum, 400 Main St., Point Pleasant, is a great place to learn about Mothman and other cryptids.
On the way, check out the famous Hillbilly Hotdogs (Hillfolk Hotdogs in the video game) just a few miles north of Huntington along W.Va. 2.
If you’re driving by Sutton, you’ll definitely want to stop off at the Braxton County Visitors Center, 208 Main St., Sutton, where they have a small museum and merch shop paying homage to the Flatwoods Monster.
Probably the largest and most famous spot featured in the video game is The Greenbrier resort and its famous bunker. Go online at http://www.greenbrier.com/Activities/The-Bunker/Bunker-Tours.aspx for more info about it.
Go online at https://wvtourism.com/fallout76 to find out more about places to visit in West Virginia related to the game.