Parks & Recreation
May 20, 2012
WITH THE warmer months finally rolling around, Ohio Valley residents are on the hunt for that perfect outdoor opportunity. Fortunately for those seeking fun in the sun recreation, the available facilities are endless. There are city parks that provide playgrounds and equipment for the younger generation to exercise and burn off some of that excess energy. Some of the larger municipalities also offer pools to take the bite out of the summer heat with a refreshing dip. Then there are the state parks which offer all of the outdoor amenities one could ask for. There are even commercial establishments that provide outdoor activities ranging from water parks to trail rides and petting-zoo style exhibits for kids. Cities like St. Clairsville and Wheeling, which turned its former railroad tracks into a recreational outlet, offer walking and biking trails with picturesque views to help burn off those calories while enjoying a nice, summer day. Belmont County A quick turn south off the Interstate 70 exit near Morristown will have fun seekers travelling toward Barkcamp State Park. Like most parks of this variety, Barkcamp offers four hiking trails, a 700-foot beach for swimmers, a playground area for kids and opportunities for camping, from actual roughing-it style camping to cabins and camper-hookups with electricity. Boating is also offered on its lake, as well as fishing, although only motorized boats are allowed to be on the water. Hunting opportunities can be had at Barkcamp in designated areas, with squirrel hunting being a popular pastime. Longhorn Tours at Dickinson Cattle in Barnesville offer a guided tour of the cattle ranch, as well as opportunities to feed not only the cattle, but also fish, at the tour’s conclusion. As with most counties in the area, the baseball and softball fields will be packed this summer as youth sporting leagues kick into high gear. Most cities have their own leagues, ranging from T-ball age up through high school. There is also the Ohio Valley Baseball League which recently began its season for the adults. Whether to watch or play, there is always a game going on during the summer in Belmont County. St. Clairsville Post 159 also offers legion baseball. For activities of the more vehicular nature, there is Powerline Park near St. Clairsville. Powerline offers 1,000 acres of off-roading trails, mud pits, hills and rocks to drive and ride through. Powerline also boasts a free campground for its users. Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends also bring huge events to which the park plays host. Harrison County While Harrison County doesn’t have a state park, it does have Sally Buffalo Park near Cadiz. One of the best aspects of Sally Buffalo is that fishing is free on the lake, with no state fishing license required. The park’s four man-made lakes are routinely stocked with everything from Catfish to Bluegill and Crappie. There is also the usual park fare of walking and hiking trails, along with camping opportunities. Sally Buffalo’s baseball complex, Mazeroski Field, is home to Cadiz Post 34. Harrison County is also home to a bevy of boating opportunities, including Tappan, Piedmont and Clendening Lakes as each houses its own marina and docks. Fishing, as to be expected, is also a major activity in Harrison County, with numerous types of fish, including White Bass at Tappan and Clendening. Monroe County A good portion of Monroe County lies in Wayne National Forest, an area covering more than 250,000 acres of Appalachian foothills. All told, Wayne National Forest has more than 300 miles of trails for hiking, ATV riding, mountain biking and even horseback riding. It is also a popular spot for Geocaching, a high-tech game of treasure hunting played utilizing GPS units to locate hidden items. Ohio County Ohio County is home to a pair of parks in Oglebay Park & Resort and Wheeling Park. Oglebay’s Schenk Lake houses paddleboat and fishing opportunities with a nearby playground. And the nightly water and light show at the lake brings in visitors during the summer. Picnic tables can also be found throughout the park. There are walking trails for exercise enthusiasts. The Good Zoo and Planetarium offers the only official zoo in the Ohio Valley. Like Oglebay, a big attraction at Wheeling Park is its pool. This pool boasts a rather lengthy water slide for young and old to enjoy. Wheeling’s recreation department also runs sporting leagues throughout the summer, including softball, baseball and basketball. There are also summer soccer leagues for children to partake in. Rocky Fork Recreation in Kimbolton features an ATV course and rentals, kayaking, canoeing, tennis and volleyball courts and a paintball course. A little closer to home, Mountain Mama’s Kayak and Bike Rentals recently opened in downtown Wheeling, offering rentals for all your recreational needs to take advantage of the landscape and outdoor adventure opportunities the Ohio Valley and surrounding area. For the hard-core boaters, Grove Lawn & Marine in Triadelphia is stocked full of boats and boating accessories to provide for all of your needs when heading out on the water for fun and recreation. Marshall County Grand Vue Park in Moundsville is beginning to assert itself as one of the top outdoor family destinations in the Ohio Valley. Prior to 2012, the biggest edition to the facility was the redesigned aquatic center, providing a brighter and more kid-friendly swimming atmosphere. If that wasn’t enough, the park is set to unveil next month a feature that no other recreational facility in the Ohio Valley can boast. Canopy Tours will offer eight dual-lines ranging from 340 to 2,200 feet. There will be a roughly 20-minute ride or a near 4-hour canopy tour of the park for visitors wishing to get a bird’s eye view of the 650-acre grounds.. These two features are in addition to a sizable and fairly new playground and miniature golf course, six miles of biking trails, a four-mile hiking trail, disc golf courses, a Par 3 and traditional 18-hole course. It also offers a 15-point course for orienteering. A short drive north, both Glen Dale and Benwood host smaller city parks, complete with playgrounds and outdoor pools. Jefferson County Jefferson County is home to a few fine facilities for those outdoor enthusiasts who love to hike, bike and simply reconnect with nature. Fernwood State Forrest, a 3,023 acre facility near Bloomingdale boasts a three-mile walking loop along with a couple of scenic views for its visitors. Fishing and hunting both are popular in Fernwood and there are three separate firing ranges — one each for pistols, rifle and trap shooting. Also in Jefferson County is Smithfield’s Friendship Park. Friendship boasts more than 1,300 hundred acres of land houses both RV and camping facilities. The 89-acre main lake at Friendship is stocked with catfish, bluegill, bass, carp and trout. A short jaunt west of Toronto and you will find Austin Lake Park &?Campground. Austin Lake has many activities for its visitors, including an increasing stream of water sports enthusiasts taking part in wakeboarding on the lake. The lake also features: water skiing, camping, boating, fishing, a swimming beach, jumping tower, canoes and even WiFi access.