Hiking for health and adventure

Trail and Bridge (2)

By CASEY JUNKINS

For The Times Leader

WHEELING –Whether you want to burn hundreds of calories in an effort to lose weight or are looking for a more leisurely experience, hiking offers a variety of opportunities.

From Barkcamp State Park and Dysart Woods in Belmont County to Oglebay Park in Wheeling, one need not leave the Upper Ohio Valley in search of a hike.

“It is relatively easy in good weather. And you’ll see plenty of wonderful herbacious species,” Brian McCarthy, professor of forest ecology at Ohio University and supervisor for Dysart Woods, said.

Dysart Woods is located just off Ohio 147 between the villages of Belmont and Centerville in Belmont County. It offers two trails — red and blue — with the former rated as slightly more challenging.

“It’s really a nice destination that is convenient for those in your area,” McCarthy said. “It’s a nice place for a small picnic.”

McCarthy said those hiking in Dysart Woods are likely to see white oak trees, beech trees and tulip trees. There is also a solid chance of seeing deer, turkeys or squirrels, he said.

“We do require that any pet you bring with you must be on a leash,” McCarthy said of rules for the park. “It is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.”

At Barkcamp, located along Ohio 149 near Belmont, one can experience a total of four trails: Lakeview, Woodchuck, Hawthorne and Hawk. According to park employees, each trail features a few hills, but can be conquered by most.

Some of the trees one should see on the Barkcamp trails include maple, elm, ash, black walnut, cherry, apple, pear and hickory. Animals visible from the trail could include deer, rabbits, skunks, mice, groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons and, yes, snakes.

On the other side of the Ohio River, Oglebay Park offers several unpaved hiking trails, including the Serpentine Trail, the Hardwood Ridge Trail, the Falls Vista Trail and the Brooks Trail.

According to the American Hiking Society, although the activity can be enjoyable, it must be taken seriously. Some of the organization’s tips include:

∫ Wear appropriate footwear. If you are not carrying a heavy pack, athletic shoes can work, but if you are carrying a lot of gear, boots may be necessary;

∫ Carry a map and compass. If you get deep into a forest, electronic devices may not work, so you should have some traditional equipment to help you along the way;

∫ Be sure to carry extra water and food, just in case you get lost;

∫ Consider rain gear and always carry a hat;

∫ Carry items to let you generate heat and light, as well as a whistle;

∫ Carry a first aid kit;

∫ Carry a knife and/or a multi-purpose tool; and

∫ Consider carrying sunscreen and sunglasses.

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