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Outdoor fun and volunteer opportunities abound at Watoga State Park

One of the many projects on the Watoga State Park Foundation’s list is to heat the pool and add a water slide. Many activities are planned for the upcoming seasons to ensure that memories continue to be made at this beautiful state park.

David Elliott
Watoga Foundation
Watoga State Park Naturalist Chris Bartley has hit the ground running with a great list of events at the park this season.  Also, the Watoga State Park Foundation continues monitoring and maintaining hiking trails in cooperation with park personnel, putting in roughly 1,000 hours per year.  The foundation also sponsors events like the second annual Mountain Trail Challenge – 5K and Half Marathon trail running races in August, as well as raising money for needed improvements.

The top priority this spring is to heat the famously cool swimming pool and add a water slide and other poolside attractions, making it a place for community activities, such as water aerobics and swimming lessons, as well as a pleasant place for park guests and local users to (pardon the expression) “chill.”

Park Superintendent Jody Spencer notes that community pools in other locations have significantly increased attendance by adding water slides, and that the Watoga pool could easily become a money-maker for the park, and thus avoid being closed by the state.

Another project in the immediate future invites public participation. 

In celebration of Arbor Day, the park is obtaining a large number of red spruce seedlings to plant at numerous locations throughout the park April 29 to maintain the canopy as hemlocks and other trees are lost to disease, old age and wind storms.

The foundation works to support other organizations that hold events in the park, as well.  One such event is the Wild Edibles Festival, put on by the Pocahontas Nature Club and Hillsboro Library Friends, April 21 and 22.  

The list goes on. 

These events are open to all. 

Many of them need volunteer helpers, too, so look over the list and find some that you’d like to be a part of. 

Watoga is a beautiful place to spend some time doing good. 

For more information call or visit the park, 304-799-4087, or see FB/hike watoga or FB/Watoga-State-Park-Foundation. 

Here’s the list of events.

Come have fun, and volunteer if you can.

Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22 – Wild Edibles Festival: an area event with field trips featuring plant identification, preparation meth- ods, and an opportunity to sample the fare.

Saturday, April 29 – Arbor Day Tree Planting, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Work in small groups with park staff and other volunteers, planting red spruce seedlings.  Bring work gloves.

Saturday, May 6 – Geocache Weekend: With more than 25 geocaches hidden throughout the park, many will have a chance to be the first to find a prize since these will not be on the geocache website until after the event.

Other activities:

Sunday, May 20 – Fishing Derby: Gather at the pool area parking lot to fish the east end of the lake.  The derby will begin at 10 a.m. with demonstrations on filleting fish and having a fish fry.  Derby will conclude at noon with awards and certificates.

Saturday, June 3 – National Trails Day: Join us as Naturalist Chris Bartley conducts a guided hike through our newly improved arboretum beginning at 10 a.m.  This hike will last most of the day.  It will be followed by an evening campfire cooking program.

Saturday, June 10 – CCC Reunion: Join us as we pay tribute to the people who helped develop Watoga State Park in the 1930s. We will have our museum open, live demonstrations, and many other programs scheduled, as well.

Saturday, July 1 – 80th Anniversary Celebration: Watoga officially became a West Virginia State Park on July 1, 1937, and we are going to celebrate our 80 years of history together with a huge party in the Recreation Hall. Bring your stories and photographs, and join us for cake and ice cream.

Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22 – Mushroom Foray: Come learn about the different species of mushrooms found in the area, make spore prints, and sample some of the edibles.

Saturday, August 12 – Mountain Trail Challenge: Two different races, a Half Marathon and a 5K, starting at 8:30 a.m. and 8:40 a.m., respectively, from the Beaver Creek Campground.

Lunch for participants and volunteers.  Runners, you can get a “sweat equity” discount if you register in person at one of our trail work days. Information at www.watogafoun dation/race and FB/WatogaTrailRaces.

Labor Day Weekend: Saturday and Sunday, September 2 and 3 – Watoga Art in the Park: Arts and crafts from juried artists, with scheduled hikes, live demonstrations, live music, art for sale, food and lots more.  Visit the website at www.watoga

Saturday, October 28 – Halloween in the Campground: Along with several activities during the day, we will have a pumpkin decorating contest, a costume contest, decorated campsite contest, and Trick-or-Treating.  We’ll end the evening with a campfire program.

Saturday, December 16 – Christmas with Santa: Come meet Santa at the main office from 1 to 5 p.m., have your picture taken, and make an ornament.  Refreshments will be provided.

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