Here are some of the top outdoor recreation areas in the Tri-State.
Ritter Park: This park, nestled in Huntington’s south side, is the crown jewel of the city’s park system. Enjoy tennis at 11 courts, hiking trails, a circular walking path and a multi-use trail along the banks of Fourpole Creek. There is also an amphitheater, an award-winning rose garden and award-winning playground. Ritter Park is also home to many festivals and events.
Rotary Park: Located off U.S. 60 near Huntington’s Walnut Hills area, Rotary Park has 132 acres, and is the largest park in Huntington. Amenities include an 18-hole disc golf course, a playground, basketball court, a paved walking trail, a fire tower, baseball fields and hiking trails.
Harris Riverfront Park: Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Harris Riverfront Park is only a few blocks from campus and includes picnic facilities, an amphitheater, a walking path and a boat ramp. There are often live music events at the park, including the Huntington Symphony Orchestra’s Picnic with the Pops series.
McClelland Park: This 2.75-acre park offers a tennis and basketball court and a sweeping view of the Ohio River. It’s located within a five-minute drive of campus.
Barboursville Community Park: This park is located in the village of Barboursville, located off of U.S. 60 and near the Huntington Mall. The park features 460 acres with a wealth of activities and amenities. There’s an extensive system of hiking and mountain biking trails, two fishing ponds, baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts and basketball courts.
Beech Fork State Park: The closest state park to Huntington is only about 12 miles away. Take Hal Greer until it runs into W.Va. 10, take that road south, turn onto Hughes Branch Road and follow the signs. This 3,144 acre park features the state’s largest campground. The park is stocked with activities that include boating, swimming (in an Olympic size swimming pool), an extensive trail system for hiking and mountain biking. Call 304-528-5794.
Beech Fork Lake: You can also access Beech Fork Lake from the other side by taking 5th Street south where it turns into W.Va. 152. The lake is accessed near the town of Lavalette, about eight miles south of Huntington. At the Lavalette side, you can rent boats of all kinds, enjoy swimming the lake at Stower’s Branch, enjoy extensive hiking trails, fishing, picnic facilities and more.
Kanawha State Forest: Located seven miles south of Charleston, this forest’s proximity to the Kanawha Valley has made it a recreational haven. Offers significant hiking, mountain biking and cross country skiing opportunities. The swimming pool, playground and the fully equipped campground attracts families during the summer season. The 9,300 acre forest is noted among naturalists for its diverse wildflower and bird populations. Rich cove forest sites provide nesting habitat for 19 species of wood warblers. For information, call 304-558-3500.
East Lynn Lake: Located in Wayne County, East Lynn Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. Fishing is allowed from boats and shoreline, and West Virginia fishing licenses are required. There are 25,000 acres for hunting. West Virginia hunting license is required. Foot trails are located at the visitors center, Lake side Recreation Area, Lick Creek Launch area and East Fork camping area. All trails are marked. Campground fees are $16 with electric and $18 with electric and water hookup. There is a slot limit on bass. All bass between 12 and 16 inches must be released. Call 304-849-2355.
Chief Logan State Park: Chief Logan State Park offers game courts including miniature golf, tennis and basketball. A wildlife exhibit features West Virginia native animals such as black bears, bobcats, barred owls, red shouldered hawks, wild boar and reptiles. A 25-unit campground offers full hookups on 14 sites. The park is also home to “The Aracoma Story” outdoor theater. Nearby is the Hatfield and McCoy Trail. Call 304-792-7229. Park office hours are Thursday and Friday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Cabwaylingo State Forest: Located at the convergence of Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo counties, the 8,123 heavily forested acres provide a rustic getaway and a rich example of the work done in the 1930s and ‘40s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built the log and stone cabins. The state forest offers camping, hiking trails, a swimming pool, picnic facilities, basketball, volleyball and prime hunting and fishing. The state stocks the West Fork of Twelvepole Creek with trout. Call 304-385-4255 for information, registration and fee inquiries.
Tu-Endi-Wei State Park: Located in Point Pleasant, Mason County. Native American for “mingling of the waters,” the park is dedicated to an Oct. 10, 1774, battle, which is considered to be the first battle of the American Revolution. One of West Virginia’s smallest state parks, it houses the Mansion house, a restored 1796 tavern and inn, that serves as a museum, and various monuments, including an 84-foot obelisk.
Shawnee State Park: Shawnee State Park is nestled in the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. The park offers a resort lodge featuring 50 guest rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, game room, tennis, basketball and shuffleboard courts. There also are 25 family cottages. The campground has 103 sites suitable for tents or trailers. There also are stocked lakes for fishing. Also offered are hiking, swimming, an 18-hole golf course, miniature golf, picnicking, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits and playground equipment. Call 740-858-6685.
Lake Vesuvius: The Vesuvius Recreation Area, named for the old Vesuvius iron furnace, is in the Wayne National Forest. This 143-acre complex is north of Ironton, just off State Route 93. There are camping and picnic areas, and hiking trails, horseback riding trails, fishing, boating, swimming and the Ohio University Southern Nature Center. Call 740-532-4600. Other numbers for the Wayne National Forest, Pedro, Ohio; 877-444-6777, 877-833-6777 (TDD) and 740-532-4600 (Lake Vesuvius).
Dean State Forest (located in the Wayne National Forest): The highest point in Lawrence County, Ohio, is located in the forest at Decatur Township with an elevation of 1,055 feet. Ohio River Observation Point: Three states can be seen at this vantage point in South Point, Ohio, at the opening of the Big Sandy River. A sheltered picnic area is available as well as a paved ramp for launching watercraft. For more information, contact Viviane Khounlavong at the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 740-377-4550.
Timbre Ridge Lake: This lake has a paved ramp for watercraft and is best known for bass fishing. For more information, call 740-753-0101.
Yatesville Lake: Yatesville Lake, an impoundment of the Blaine Creek, offers great bluegill, crappie and bass fishing. The 2,300-acre mountain reservoir spans more than 20 miles. Yatesville Lake offers plenty of room to skim the waves or catch some rays in your favorite cruisecraft. There are playgrounds, a public beach, Eagle Ridge, an 18-hole golf course, restrooms and showers. There are several hiking trails, including one which is handicap accessible. Call 606-673-1490 for the campground or 866-686-2361 for the marina.
Grayson Lake State Park: Today, visitors to Grayson Lake don’t need to look far for favorite recreational activities. There is Hidden Cove, an 18-hole golf course; boating; a public beach and a hiking trail. Nearby is Camp Robert C. Webb Conservation Education Center, open weekdays all year, as well as the more than 10,000-acre Grayson Lake Public Wildlife Area where you may hike, bird watch and ride horse trails. Call the campground at 606-474-6856; marina at 606-474-4513; golf course at 866-905-7888 toll free.
Carter Caves State Resort Park: Carter Caves State Resort Park is home to more than 20 caverns winding beneath its forested hills. You may take guided cave tours or hiking trips. You also may canoe on Smokey Lake. The Welcome Centers provides cave tour information and orientation. There are restrooms and a gift shop featuring Kentucky handcrafts. There are 26 miles of hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, miniature golf, boating, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, tennis, a picnic area and playground. Call 800-325-0059 toll free.
Greenbo Lake State Resort: Greenbo Lake State Resort holds the pristine beauty of the Kentucky hills which inspired poet Jesse Stuart. Visit the fieldstone lodge while there. Swimming is available. Boating is offered on Greenbo Lake with rental pontoon boats, paddle boats, canoes and motor boats. Fishing is allowed at the 225-acre lake. Other activities include hiking, miniature golf, tennis, basketball, bicycling, picnic shelters and playgrounds. Call 800-325-0083 toll free for information and fees.
Paintsville Lake State Park: In Staffordsville, three miles west of Paintsville. Steep cliffs and wooded coves border the lake shoreline, offering 1,140 acres for boating, skiing and fishing. Anglers will find excellent opportunities to cast for walleye, bass, trout and crappie. For fishing information, call 606-297-4111. Also offers a campground with utilities and sewer hookups, or choice of primitive sites. Full-service marina includes rental boats. Campground: 606-297-8488; Office: 606-297-8486; Marina: 606-297-LAKE.
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park: 75 Theatre Court, Prestonsburg, Ky. Located deep in the heart of the Appalachians, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is accented by scenic 1,100-acre Dewey Lake. Enjoy a variety of activities, from Broadway shows in the amphitheatre and hiking trails through the wilderness, to disc golfing amid mountain vistas. This full-service resort features 48 lodge rooms and 18 cottages for overnight stays, a dining room featuring Southern-style cooking, campground, marina, gift shop and meeting facilities for up to 800 persons. 606-889-1790; 800-325-0142 or www.jennywiley.com.