Hikers: can you complete the Chief’s Challenge?

In 2016, West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England challenges you to hike or walk 100 miles in the state parks and forests.

The challenge is free, but you have to enroll. You’ll even get a snazzy Chief’s Challenge sticker in the mail to prove you’re official. Hike 10 of your 100 miles with a naturalist, and the other 90 are up to you.

We don’t think you’ll have a hard time finding ways to meet your goal, but just in case, here are some great options for packing in your 100. Are you up for the challenge?

1. Guided full moon hikes

Put on some winter gear and head to Cass Scenic Railroad for a full moon hike. These adventures from late winter through the spring encourage visitors to get out of the house and explore nature in the crisp air. Don’t expect to use a flashlight or headlamp— the moon and the stars will give you all the light you need.

These 3-mile hikes on the Greenbrier River Trail count toward your 10 miles hiked with a naturalist, too!

2. Coopers Rock 50K and Half Marathon

In April, knock out a big chunk of your goal at Coopers Rock State Forest. If you’re feeling really ambitious, run nearly every trail in the forest— past dazzling views and majestic rock formations— in their 50k. This course is on very difficult terrain, so if you’re not quite feeling up to it, there’s also a half-marathon on a shortened version of that same route.

3. The Osbra Eye Memorial Wildflower Walk

Kanawha State Forest celebrates their spring blooms with a wildflower walk the 4th Saturday each April. You’ll see up to 40 different kinds of wildflowers poking their heads through the soil after a cold winter.

Join one of the many hikes that day to learn about flowers like the Wakerobin, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and the unusual Green Violet.

4. Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend

For almost 50 years, North Bend State Park has dedicated an entire weekend to the bounty of wild foods nature provides. Join guided forages through the Appalachian foothills to unearth their yummy secrets. Later, you’ll get to fix and feast from your haul. This is North America’s premier and longest-running wild foods event!

5. Irish Road Bowling

Clock some miles and try a new sport at Tygart Lake State Park. In November, the park has Irish Road Bowling on a curvy course along the deep blue lake’s shores. Irish Road Bowling originated in Ireland, where competitors try to take the fewest throws to propel a metal ball down a country road (kind of like bowling, but outdoors and with a really zealous running start.)

6. Guided bird walks

In April and May, follow the lead of the WV DNR on a Saturday morning bird walk through Prickett’s Fort State Park. See, hear and learn about our state’s feathered friends. While you’re there, check out more of the Prickett’s Fort Nature Trail, where 25 interpretive stations will teach you about flowers and wildlife in the area.

7. Bear Hole Road Race

Hit the pavement, errrr… path, in the rugged mountains of Twin Falls State Park. In July, they have a series of races through their beautiful rolling terrain. Choose from a 10k, a 5k and a 1-mile fun run.

TIP: There’s also a National Park hiking challenge, where you can earn prizes! Trek the New River Gorge National River and Bluestone National Scenic River to log miles!

Which trails will you be trekking?

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This post was last updated on July 17, 2020