Remembering Tom Wyatt – A day on the Wyatt Nature Trail

Clinton Gabbert
Contributing Writer

Located about a mile south of Stillwell Park, the Wyatt Nature Trail is wheelchair accessible and can be accessed from the Greenbrier River Trail. This trail was created in the mid-1990s to honor a long-time Forest Service employee, Tom Wyatt. Although Tom worked in timber, he saw his biggest role as a teacher. He mentored many employees over the years with patience, determination, and most importantly, humor.

“Tom was a great, warm person who loved to welcome new employees to the District and take them under his wing.” noted Tim Henry, retired Forest Service Recreation Program Manager.

Because of Wyatt’s gift for mentoring new employees, following his retirement in 1991 and untimely passing shortly thereafter, his colleagues worked to create the nature trail and develop interpretive signs that would educate young visitors about the hardwood forests that surround them. But, with time, many of these signs had faded and information about the forest had changed.

“We wanted to refresh the signage along the Wyatt Nature Trail so that it continued to teach people about the importance of West Virginia’s forests and streams,” said AmeriCorps Member Megan Mason Dister. “We also wanted to create a new welcome sign that would orient visitors to the trail, as well as share with them the inspiring story of Tom Wyatt, who worked for the Forest Service for thirty-five years.”

Working with Langdon Pettit, a graphic design student from West Virginia University, all of the signs were given a new, fresh look. Langdon donated his time to make these signs possible. The newly installed signs colorfully explain how to identify the different species of trees found along the trail and the role that they play in the forest ecosystem. The number of signs along the trail highlight the incredible diversity that can be found on just a small portion of the Monongahela National Forest. A secret message, which can be decoded using the signs along the trail, can earn young visitors a small prize if they report it to the nearby Marlinton Ranger Station. This can be done by mailing the decoded message to Marlinton Ranger Station, 1627 Cemetery Road, Marlinton, WV 24954 with the visitor’s contact information. Or, you can email this information to Charles. Gabbert@usda.gov

In addition to the new signs, the trail was improved with new gravel and is ready to welcome new generations who will learn about Tom Wyatt and the forest that he loved. If you visit the trail, bring a lunch so you can enjoy the picnic tables at the end of the loop. A perfect end to a delightful hike.

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