Are you goal-oriented? Do you like to mark progress as you work toward a goal, and then being given a something-you-can-actually-hold-in-your-hands reward once achieved? If so, enroll in the hiking program offered by West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources. By incorporating something you already like doing—hiking—and as you work on one goal you can be accumulating credits toward the other.

Hiking in West Virginia’s state parks and forests is an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and/or to increase physical activity. Hiking is one of the most popular recreational activities adventurers like to experience at West Virginia’s state parks and forests. 

Of course, this being West Virginia, there will be some great hikes, like a journey into the Bluestone River Canyon at Pipestem Resort State Park, easy walking along the Greenbrier River Trail, or some rugged ups and downs in Kanawha State Forest. Learn about Civil War sites in Carnifex Ferry and Droop Mountain Battlefield State Parks. A hike at Canaan Valley Resort State Park is akin to walking in New England with tannin-stained streams and spruce-covered ridgelines. After hiking at Cacapon Resort State Park, you can take a swim in the lake or chill out in a cozy cabin.

Parks with year-round naturalists and summer activity guides plan and conduct guided walks and hikes with regularity. Hikes may focus on interpretive aspects such as park history, flora, trees, birds, or general curiosity about nature. Hiking with a naturalist or park staff member encourages individuals that may not feel comfortable venturing into the forest to give hiking a try.

Enrollment is required for the West Virginia State Parks Hiking program. There is a modest fee to cover some expenses.  Upon enrollment, each enrollee receives a log card with a welcome letter and program information. Completion of mileage plateaus earns rewards when log cards are received.  

The program is not a competition, is self-paced and does not have a time limit to earn rewards. Rewards include a hiking stick and cane shield for miles accomplished.  Enrollment is not required to simply visit a park to take a hike. There is no time frame nor is it a race to accomplish from hiking 25 – 2000 miles on trails at a West Virginia state park or state forest.