Before we get to our regularly scheduled programming, I just wanted to send my thoughts and love to all my friends (and strangers turned friends) currently experiencing the devastating destruction from the recent hurricanes. I spent some beautiful time in both Miami and Key West and wanted to ensure my readers had a way to help. Even if you’re not available to give financially, check out this list of resources from giving blood, opening up your home, to helping out lost animals. We stand with you.
Despite living a mere state away, West Virginia has never been on my radar. I’ve heard of the beautiful mountains and plethora of outdoor of activities, but this was a state I was always flying over on my way to somewhere bigger, grander. But I think that’s what make West Virginia so appealing, rather than putting on a showy front, this is the place to go if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle of everyday life. Filled with quaint small towns (emphasis on the small) and hidden natural beauties, you become less concerned with needing to see and do it all, and more occupied with taking it all in, slowly and completely.
Of course, West Virginia wasn’t exactly on my bucket list of places to see, which is probably why it surprised me the most. After spending months planning a reunion with my old college roommates, we quickly realized that the central location to all our current residences would lead us to…Davis, WV.
A thriving ski town close to the mountains offers new experiences and opportunities in the summer. Although it is certainly anything but packed, the emptiness offers peace of mind and a chance to truly immerse in the local way of life. A mere three hours from D.C., I headed out mid-morning to avoid the dreaded city traffic on either end. The drive itself is one of the highlights of the trip. Once you cross over from Virginia into West Virginia, cars are fewer and fewer between and the views only become more and more spectacular. So much so, there’s a scenic overlook every 40 miles or so on highway 48 heading straight into Davis.
Because we opted for a summertime trip, there were numerous options for housing. We chose a three bedroom lodge on the edge of the surrounding parks. Even in the middle of summer, a hot tub was necessary as we intended to spend the majority of our time close by and simply absorbing each other’s company. Plus, the 65 degree weather in the early and late hours was a welcomed relief from D.C.’s 104 heat index. Located off a dirt road, our lodging was one of the many homes available for rent through Homeaway or AirBnB. And while we spent leisurely mornings drinking coffee off the front porch and evenings in the hot tub, we did make an effort to explore the area.
The town of Davis is no more than a mile long stretch of family-run businesses with a few necessities dropped in between. A charming ice cream store and bustling barbecue shop make for a delightful Saturday. We made our way through the town on our way to the real event for the day, Blackwater Falls State Park.
Located in Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, Blackwater Falls State Park is named after the amber-colored water that travels off a cliff into an eight mile gorge. Although the park was filled with visitors, it was large enough that there were times you had the trails to yourself. The park itself offers a multitude of activities. With lodging on site, you could easily spend a weekend here always discovering something new. We opted to trek down to the falls, a quick ten minutes walk to the viewing platform, and then make our way to Pendleton Lake.
Whether you’re interested in kayaking, canoeing, or simply swimming on the sandy shore, you can rent all you need on the lake front. After viewing the water, we hiked the Pendleton Trace Trail up to the scenic point. We had the trail to ourselves, which was good considering the nine of us made for quite the caravan.
Since the park is at the top of the canyon, the trails are mostly flat and easily done in an hour. However, you wouldn’t expect this spectacular view from such an easy hike. The overlook follows the river through the valley, nestled between the bright green mountainsides. I can only imagine the color the envelopes the trees in autumn.
Sufficiently sweaty and dirty from the adventure, we headed back to our lodge to cook up dinner and spend the rest of the night up late enjoying some quality girl time.
I decided to take my time on my way home, stopping at various points along the route to take in all West Virginia had to offer. Fields of windmills and small fruit stands along the road allowed me to slowly adjust back to the real world. Although this state had never made it onto my must-see list, it surely didn’t disappoint.
Have you ever been to West Virginia? What’s one place you never thought you would go to?