Celebrate Earth Day in West Virginia

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide every April 22 in an effort to promote a healthy, sustainable environment. There are many ways individuals can celebrate Earth Day, from conserving energy and water use to planting trees to picking up litter by the roadside. It’s also a great time to get out in nature and appreciate the beauty of one’s surroundings.

Learn about West Virginia wildlife

At the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek you can walk a 1.25-mile interpretive trail to view native and introduced state wildlife in their natural habitat. You’ll see every species from the mighty American bald eagle to playful river otters. The wildlife center also has a picnic area and a gift shop. In the southern part of the state, Chief Logan State Park has its own Wildlife Exhibit where you can view animals from a paved path through the forest.

Go for a bike ride

Take the family for a leisurely bike ride on one of West Virginia’s 60 rail trails, like the North Bend Rail Trail that connects to North Bend State Park, the Greenbrier River Trail that runs along the river and passes through Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, the Deckers Creek Trail system in Morgantown or the Wheeling Heritage Rail-Trails. The crushed stone and level grade make these trails ideal for beginners and young’uns.

Advanced riders seeking some challenging trails might want to check out the gnarly singletrack and hilly terrain at Kanawha State Forest, Coopers Rock State Forest, the New River Gorge or Mountwood Park.

Take a hike

Commune with nature and try your hand at identifying wildflowers or birds. Naturalists at West Virginia State Parks often lead guided hikes and are happy to offer advice on where to find interesting flora and fauna. The West Virginia Botanic Garden and Cranberry Glades Botanical Area are also ideal spots for viewing unique plants and flowers. If you really want to get back to nature, the remote beauty of the Monongahela National Forest rewards hikers with stunning overlooks, rippling mountain streams and secluded waterfalls.

Tip: Many parks could use some help clearing trails for the spring and summer. Contact your local park office or hiking group to see if they have scheduled cleanup days.

Wear nature’s jewelry

If you’re looking for a gift for that special someone, consider something made from nature (and support West Virginia artists in the process). The Pretty Pickle creates jewelry from flowers, leaves and butterfly and moth wings cast in resin. (Wings are collected after the butterflies and moths have naturally expired, so no animals were harmed in the process.) You can find the artist’s work at craft fairs or at vendors throughout the state including Tamarack in Beckley, Wheeling Artisan Center and Mountain Creative in Fairmont

The centerpiece of Wildscape jewelry is a protective case built by the caddisfly, a stream-dwelling, mothlike insect. Caddisfly larvae build these cases out of available substrate like twigs, pebbles and shells, and bind them together with silk. The result is a delicate, one-of-kind creation that the artist crafts into bracelets, earrings and necklaces. You can find this jewelry online or at shops like SMART Centre Market science and education store.

Support your local honeybee

West Virginia’s official state insect, the honeybee, is responsible for the pollination of many of the state’s most important crops. Salute the valiant efforts of this humble little bee by trying out some of the wonderful honey products made in the Mountain State, including honey mead from Mountain Dragon Mazery Or look for honey products, along with many other West Virginia-made and grown products, at local markets throughout West Virginia, like Capitol Market in Charleston, Orr’s Farm Market in Martinsburg or The Wild Ramp in Huntington.

Spend a day on the water

Spring is peak whitewater season in the beautiful and remote Cheat River Canyon, when snow melt and heavy rains create heart-pounding Class V rapids. During this time of year you can also snag some great whitewater package deals on the New River, while the milder, Class II-III rapids of the Potomac and Shenandoah at Harpers Ferry are ideal for younger children and newbies.

Bring or rent your own kayak and enjoy a lazy float trip on the Coal River Water Trail. Don’t forget to pack your fishing gear! If fishing’s your thing, you might also try out the Sutton Tailwaters, Barboursville Lake, Shaver Fork, or any number of streams and lakes where the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources recently stocked golden rainbow trout, and you might win a Gold Rush T-shirt!

How are you celebrating?

This post was last updated on April 24, 2024