Birthplace of Rivers Geocaching Challenge

It’s Memorial Day weekend, AKA the unofficial start of summer.  I hope that no matter what you are doing, you have been enjoying yourself thus far and have a wonderful Memorial Day tomorrow.  I also hope that you remember the true reason for the holiday and keep in your heart the memory of those whom have died while serving in the armed forces.

To celebrate Memorial Day and take advantage of a three-day weekend for me, Jon and I decided to head to the hills for a day of geocaching.  With our headquarters in Summersville, we drove to Pocahontas County on Saturday and spent most of the day geocaching and trying to complete the Birthplace of Rivers Geocaching Challenge.  Our day was perfect and the views were some of the best I’ve ever seen along the Highland Scenic Highway.  Geocaching was just a bonus!

Ready to go geocaching!  My GPS, swag bag, hiking boots -- I'm good to go.

Ready to go geocaching! My GPS, swag bag, hiking boots — I’m good to go.

The latest geocaching challenge from the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Birthplace of Rivers runs May 1 – October 31, 2015 and celebrates the eight (yes — EIGHT) rivers that originate in the county.  These rivers are the Cherry, Cranberry, Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier, Shavers, Tygart, and Williams.  Caches are hidden along each of these rivers and in addition to traditional trade items, contain colored stickers that correspond with a space on the official challenge Bingo card.  To complete this challenge, you must download the Bingo Card and collect a minimum of four colors in a row to Bingo.  Although there are eight caches in this series, it is entirely possible to only visit four and still Bingo (but why not visit them all?!).  Once you’ve gotten a Bingo, you can turn in your card and receive one of 100 limited edition geocoins.  As an added perk, if you stay in the county while doing so, you can bring your lodging receipt with you and enter for a chance to win a kayak.  We visited five caches before we had what we needed to get a Bingo.

Snapshots from our day

Snapshots from our day

Because Pocahontas County is vast and rural, if you are unfamiliar with the area, it can seem daunting to undertake this challenge in a day as we did.  However, doing so can happen if you plan your routes correctly.  We entered the county from Route 39/55 outside of Richwood and were able to grab two along this road then loop across Route 150 for two more, finishing up with a stop just south of Slatyfork for our final cache to make our Bingo.  Afterwards, we drove into the county seat of Marlinton to claim our geocoins and grab some lunch at the Greenbrier Grille and Lodge (definitely stop here!).  We found a handful of other caches as well, but some of those deserve their own post so I won’t share them just yet.  To help visualize the location of all eight caches, I’ve put together the map below that may help:

Map provided by Pocahontas County CVB

Map provided by Pocahontas County CVB (red dots added by me noting cache locations).

Before attempting this challenge, be sure to read the cache descriptions below as well as download the Bingo card:
Official Bingo Card
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache —  Cherry
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache —  Cranberry
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Elk
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Gauley
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Greenbrier
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Shavers
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Tygart
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Williams

If you have any questions about the challenge, feel free to send me an email at wvtravelqueen@gmail.com.  You may also send me a Twitter message @WV_TravelQueen.  And for more information on Pocahontas County and a guide to help plan your trip, be sure to visit Nature’s Mountain Playground online at www.pocahontascountywv.com.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)

Geocaching username:  iheartmarshall

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A leisurely stroll along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail

With the warm weather approaching, I no longer have excuses for not getting outdoors.  It’s true that this winter has been a hard one and I’ve been preoccupied with moving into a new house, starting a new job, and writing paper after paper for my grad classes — but still, it’s been way too long since I’ve spent the day outside.  So to remedy this, Jon and I went on a leisurely hike/geocaching trip along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail.

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Beginning in the town of Ansted, the Hawks Nest Rail Trail follows Mill Creek down to where it meets the New River at the base of Hawks Nest State Park. The entire length of the trail is nearly 4 miles (1.9 down; 1.9 back) and is a steady gradual decline/incline.  This makes it ideal for bikers, walkers, runners, and even children.  Perhaps the only threat you’ll have to watch for is mud, especially if you go after a rainstorm as we did.  Along the way, you’ll be privy to waterfalls, bridges, and wildlife that help distinguish this trail from others in the area.  Remains of the Mill Creek Colliery Mining Company that operated through the 1920s can also be seen along this trail, as it was once an actual railway.  For more information on the history of mining operations along the trail, take a look at this website.

The official start of the trail

The official start of the trail

The trail follows Mill Creek down to the New River

The trail follows Mill Creek down to the New River

Old mine entrance

Old mine entrance

At the base of the trail, you’ll stumble upon the lower grounds of Hawks Nest State Park where the aerial tram is.  Because it’s still early April, nothing was open so our only way of getting back up was the way we came.  However in the summer months when the tram is operating, you can pay to ride the tram up to the lodge for $3 – $4.  However, please note that if you parked at the beginning of the trail in Ansted, you won’t be anywhere near your car once you make it to the lodge.  While down at the base, you’ll also see the launching dock for the New River Jetboat, which is a fun ride from Hawks Nest to the New River Gorge Bridge.  I’ve been on the jetboat once years ago and plan to go again this summer so if anyone would like to see a post about that, let me know!

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Hawks Nest Lodge and Lovers Leap Overlook as seen from the base

Hawks Nest State Park’s Lodge and Lovers Leap Overlook as seen from the base

If you’re into geocaching, there are also two geocaches located along the trail.  The first you’ll encounter is the Coal Heritage Geotrail #1 (GC260JM), approximately .4 miles from the official start of the trailhead.  This one is an easy find and a large ammo can — my favorite!  If you continue along, the second geocache you’ll come across is Scouts Stash (GC29T3M).  This is another easy one, however if the river is up like it was when we visited, you’ll want to use caution with children to ensure they don’t venture out onto the rocks in the creek.  I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers, but the location of this cache is not somewhere where you want to fall down.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon spent along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail and I encourage you to check it out next time you’re in the area.  It’s a beautiful sight and easy enough that virtually anyone in the family can utilize it.  For more information about the Hawks Nest Rail Trail, please visit the Hawks Nest State Park website.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)