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Getting back to life ~ one event at a time

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Spring is a time of renewal – new growth, new life and new adventures.

After more than a year of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pocahontas County is getting its own kind of renewal with the reopening of several county attractions.

At Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, visitors can experience more than riding the rails on the well-maintained and famous steam locomotives. With the Greenbrier River and the Greenbrier River Trail running through the park, visitors can enjoy kayaking, fishing and bicycling.

Park superintendent Marshall Markley said the park recently purchased bicycles, e-bikes and kayaks for visitors to rent.

“We have Giant brand bicycles – they’re really, really nice mountain bikes,” Markley said. “Perfect for the rail trail because they’re kind of a cross-over gravel grinder kind of bike. The e-bikes that we have are brand new. We just got them in December.”

E-bikes are battery-powered bicycles which provide pedal assist for the rider.

“If you’ve never done that, you’ve got to try it,” Markley said of the bike. “It is an experience. It is so different. I never would have thought that I would enjoy it as much as I did.”

Although the bikes arrived in December, Markley couldn’t wait to try one and, in full uniform, he rode an e-bike around the parking lot, up the hill to his house behind the Cass Company Store and on to the cemetery further up the hill.

“I cruised up through there with no problem, like I’m Lance Armstrong,” he said. “In full uniform, not a bead of sweat on me. It’s so easy. On the rail trail, there’s no grade, you can just cruise. I think it’s going to open up an opportunity for people – particularly if they have mobility problems – like they can’t ride as far as they used to or just getting into the sport.”

The e-bikes have a range of settings and provide pedal assist, meaning the rider has to actively pedal all the time.

The kayaks – while not battery operated – are also a nice addition to the park. There are single and two-person kayaks which can be taken down the Greenbrier River or just paddled in circles in the river for those who don’t want to take a long trip.

Of course, the train excursions will begin soon, as well. This year, the railroad plans to offer both the Bald Knob and Whittaker excursions. The Bald Knob run is an approximately 22-mile ride which takes four-and-a-half hours, round trip.

The Bald Knob schedule is – May 15, May 16, May 22, May 23, May 28 through 31 and June 2 through September 6, Wednesdays through Sundays.

The Whittaker run is four miles and takes approximately two hours, round trip. The schedule is coming soon and will be posted on mountainrailwv.com

The park also has several events scheduled for the months of April and May.

April 24 at 7:30 p.m. is the Full Pink Moon Hike and May 29 at 7:30 p.m. is the Full Flower Moon Hike. 

On May 1, the park will be the site of the 2021 Appalachian Mountain Semi-Truck and Car Show, which is a fundraiser for Appalachian Mountain Man-Trailing and Rescue (AMMAR). The event will include a semi truck, car and truck show, as well as vendors and activities for children. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Green Bank Observatory

For those with stars in their eyes, the Green Bank Observatory Science Center is ready to help visitors “Rediscover the Universe.”

The science center is not open for tours, but activities will be offered outside the center, Thursday through Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The daily schedule is as follows:

10 a.m. – walking tour between 90 minutes and two hours; presentation between 45 minutes and an hour.

11 a.m. – docent activity between 20 to 30 minutes.

Noon – presentation between 45 minutes and an hour.

1 – 1:30 p.m. – closed for staff lunch.

2 p.m. – walking tour between 90 minutes and two hours; presentation between 45 minutes and an hour.

3 p.m. – docent activity between 20 to 30 minutes.

4 p.m. – presentation between 45 minutes and an hour.

Walking tours are $10 per person, presentations are $5 per person and the docent activities are free. Tickets are required for all activities and pre-ordering is recommended, but not required. To purchase a ticket and learn more about the programs, visit shop.greenbankobservatory.org

There will be no access to the science center, but porta-potties will be available.

Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced during the activities.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Snowshoe Mountain Resort may be more well-known for its ski slopes and infinite amount of snow, but there’s still more to do after the snow melts.

Snowshoe will be open seven days a week this summer, beginning Friday, May 21.

“We’re excited to welcome everyone back to the mountain this summer,” Snowshoe President and COO Patti Duncan said. “Last year we had to cancel nearly all of our summer events due to the pandemic, so we’re really looking forward to getting back in the groove very soon. We do recognize that the threat of COVID-19 is still very much present, and we are committed to taking the extra steps and precautions necessary to safely and successfully operate and host events once again.”

Along with the ever popular bike park and the Raven Golf Club, Snowshoe also offers a variety of mountain and lake activities including hiking, scenic chairlift rides, off-road tours, e-bike tours, swimming and paddling – just to name a few.

The Raven Golf Club opens May 6 and the bike park and resort will open May 21.

For a full schedule of summer events, visit snowshoemtn.com

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