Stamp your passport on these WV Trails! How many have you completed?
Passports, stamps, coins, geocaches– many West Virginia land management agencies, trails, and attractions have programs that will reward you with tokens for following preset coordinates, visiting all their parks, or hiking different trails.
True, there’s no monetary value, but they give us a great excuse to go exploring. Whether you want to visit new places in the Mountain State, or are a serious geocacher armed with a GPS, keep reading to get some great ideas for your next adventures, and how to catalog them.
1. Berkeley County GeoTrail
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “geocaching” is a practice of locating pre-established sites with a GPS, and sometimes collecting or exchanging little trinkets, coins, or stamps from these sites. It’s basically a treasure hunt for adults.
For the past 3 summers, Berkeley County in the Eastern Panhandle has hosted a unique geocache trail. Although exploring through the county’s communities as you hunt for the trail’s 15 or so cache sites is fun by itself, the true attraction of this trail is its “gadget” caches. Local geocacher Tim Eggleston has designed various caches that are a challenge to open– you might have to crack a code, or play a musical song to unlock the box.
Get your passports at any rest stop in the area along I-81 or at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB, crack the gadget mysteries of the sites, and don’t forget to add the sites’ special code words to your passport.
2. Hatfield-McCoy Geotrail
The saga of the Hatfield-McCoy feud in Kentucky and West Virginia is one of the state’s most well-known stories, and now you can follow the its geography, too. Stop by the historic Hatfield-McCoy House Inn in Williamson to purchase your geotour passport, which will guide you through 16 of the most important sites from the historic feud. If you manage to sign the logbooks at all 16 locations, you will get a geocaching token back at the inn.
3. WV State Parks VIPP Program
Have a passion for West Virginia’s beautiful state parklands? Want to become a Very Important Parks Person (VIPP) for West Virginia State Parks and Forests? You can, by picking up registration materials at state park offices, registering and then visiting 15 mandatory state parks, as well as 5 additional parks or forests of your choice. Collect stamps for all 20 parks, and you’ll get a $25 gift certificate.
4. Appalachian Byway Geochallenge
This fun treasure hunt takes you through 175 miles of high country over the Virginia/West Virginia border in the Allegheny Mountains, from Rockbridge County, VA, then west through West Virginia, finally ending at Summersville. Download the instruction sheet with coordinates along the route, as well as questions that you must answer correctly. If you complete all this, you can collect a special geocache coin at one of any county visitor centers along the way.
5. Appalachian Trail Passport
The origins of travelers getting “passports” to record stopover points was along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, where hikers would get books stamped at each hostel they stayed at along the trail as proof they had traversed the whole route. If you want to continue this tradition the old way– by foot– one of the best routes in the nation is the famous Appalachian Trail, which wanders over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. There are hundreds of locations where you can stamp your passport along the trail. In West Virginia, you can get your passport stamped at the Trail Headquarters in Harpers Ferry.
6. National Park Passport Program
The United States National Park Service has its own extensive passport and stamp program, which can easily take a lifetime to complete (the US has 401 national parks). You can rack up a few of them here in West Virginia. Take in the views or run the whitewater at the New River Gorge National River, or brush up on your 19th century history at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in the eastern panhandle.
Which of these West Virginia challenges have you completed?
This post was last updated on October 7, 2021