From cycling to paddleboarding, scouting to shopping, outdoor recreation grew

December 30, 2017

The outdoors scene in the Tri-State and the region has been wild and wonderful - and then some.

Here’s a look at just a few of the highlights in the outdoors in 2017.

People Powered Huntington

Local bicyclists such as Ed Tucker and city planner Bre Shell organized and activated a new group called People Powered Huntington, an advocacy group envisioning a city with safe and welcoming walking, running, cycling and exercise options for all ages and needs.

Huntington has received honorable mention in the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program, once in 2012 and again in 2015. Shell said a lot was done in between, including the creation of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, but it wasn’t enough.

One of the missing components keeping Huntington out of the bronze category was the city’s lack of an advocacy group and advisory committees.

First formed in the fall of 2016 at a Create Huntington Chat ‘n’ Chew, the group took off in 2017, hosting many events including a cleanup along the PATH in Guyandotte on April 8; participating in Marshall University’s Earth Day celebration April 19; participating in national Bike to Work Week in May; and a holiday Christmas lights ride in December as well as promoting the Critical Mass rides.

Appalachian Boarding promotes paddleboarding

Appalachian Boarding Company, a new mobile business based in Scott Depot, West Virginia, owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Evan and Brooke Young, was formed in 2016, but really took off in 2017.

This summer the company hosted a group of 60 Miss International and Miss Teen International beauty pageant contestants out on the Kanawha River for a little paddleboarding in Charleston.

“West Virginia has so many waterways around the state, and our primary areas are those around Cabell, Putnam and Kanawha counties,” Brooke Young said. “We are a mobile business, so it’s just so easy for us to pack up our vans and meet at the particular waterway for the events.”

The company schedules and posts events to its Facebook page. It also can cater to groups for special events, classes or tours.

For more information about Appalachian Boarding Company, visit the website www.AppBoCo.com or visit its Facebook page.

BSA has National Jamboree in New River Gorge

They came from all 50 states and from 59 countries, and for 10 days their home was here, camped out near picturesque lakes in the misty mountains of West Virginia, down miles of gravel roads filled with a world of adventures.

The 27,000 Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and Venturing and Exploring crews from around the country and the world went home with a handful of earned badges, with patches they have bought or traded for from around the world, and with a treasure chest of memories from the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, which was July 19-28 at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia.

They went whitewater rafting and kayaking, rock climbing and bouldering, mountain biking, skateboarding, BMX riding, shooting guns and bows, zip lining, ATV riding, and hearing a range of entertainment from national rock bands to the president of the United States.

Locally, the Buckskin Council sent 101 youth and 12 adults known as Jamboree Troop 2403. From the greater Huntington area, there are 16 youth and two adults in the Buckskin Council contingent, and several local residents worked the Jamboree including skateboarders Blair Burns and Emma Ball of Huntington.

The Summit will host the international VenturingFest in 2018 and in 2019 The World Jamboree. Go online at http://www.summitbsa.org/.

Rotary Park gets mountain bike skills course and trails

Designed by Merrick Tracy with Dirtways LLC, there is a new set of mountain bike trails as well as a mountain bike skills course that was built in the spring 2017 by the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, which oversees the 135-acre Rotary Park in east Huntington.

The Rotary Club, the Huntington Foundation and the Park District teamed up to fund the projects.

Field and Stream comes to the mall

Field & Stream, an outdoors specialty store owned and operated by Dick’s Sporting Goods, opened at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville.

Together, these complementary sports retailers occupy more than 100,000 square feet on the west side of the mall. Opened in the fall, the new store is the first Field & Stream in West Virginia. Currently, the company operates more than 25 Field & Stream stores, carrying a wide variety of top national brands including Remington, Under Armour, Carhartt, Shimano, Yeti and many more.

Guyandotte Water Trail opens

The local paddling scene got a boost in 2017 when The Guyandotte Water Trail - spanning 169 miles from Wyoming County to Huntington - opened.

The water trail is made up of 24 access points across five counties with local leaders hopeful it will attract a number of tourists from West Virginia and beyond.

The trail is a collaborative effort among Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties, with members of the Guyandotte Water Trail Alliance hosting river cleanups and beautifying projects. Five more river access points are planned, as well as marketing materials to spread the word, said National Coal Heritage Area Authority Executive Director Christy Bailey.

Over The Edge rappel

In mid June, about 25 folks rappelled down the West Virginia Building as part of the United Way of the River Cities’ “Over the Edge” fundraiser.

As part of the event, participants had to raise or pledge $1,000 to the United Way in order to take the plunge off the city’s tallest building, which is 15 stories and 200 feet tall.

The event raised about $20,000 for the United Way.

WAW draws record crowd

There were 429 people from 11 states that partook in the buffet of adventures known as Winter Adventure Weekend at Carter Caves State Resort Park, offered the last weekend of January 2017.

Put on by Carter Caves with the Friends of Carter Caves, and a small army of volunteers, the eighth annual Winter Adventure Weekend offered a record 186 different trips in the outdoors, as well as indoor fun.

In 2018, 197 different outdoor trips are planned for what is one of the world’s largest winter-time caving and outdoors adventure weekends.

Go online at www.winteradventureweekend.com.

Beech Fork Lake opens new Eagle Scout-built trail

Gavin Boothe loves to hike, and he wants others to enjoy it as well.

So, the junior at Wayne High School, and Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 170 out of Wayne, has teamed up with his scout troop and other area hikers to help cut a new hiking trail on the Lavalette side of Beech Fork Lake, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Named after Boothe’s assistant scoutmaster - longtime area hiker and naturalist Romie Hughart - the Romie’s Run Trail opened April 8, with a special grand opening hike at the lake.

Go online at https://www.facebook.com/FOBeechForkLake/ to find out more about the Friends of Beech Fork Lake.

Local paddlers place in Kentucky Waterman Series

The regional paddle races known as the Kentucky Waterman Series presented by Southern Paddlesports, took place across some of Kentucky’s scenic lakes and rivers.

The series drew more than 400 paddle athletes. In order to place in the series, paddlers had to race at least four events.

George Hall, who is from the Huntington area and is the organizer of Tri-State Kayakers Facebook group, placed first place in the series in the men’s high performance kayak division’s long distance race class. He is a first-year kayak racer and a past cycling champion.

Andrew Gooding, Marshall University’s regents bachelor of arts director, placed second place in the series’ men’s kayak medium distance. The awards ceremony for the overall series happened in Stearns, Kentucky, on Nov. 11 after the last race of the season, the Big South Fork River Dash.

Go online at http://www.paddlekentucky.us for more info.

New River Gorge Bridge turns 40

Transforming a 45-minute trip down and up into the New River Gorge into a matter of seconds to cross the New River, the New River Gorge Bridge celebrated its 40th anniversary during the 2017 Bridge Day.

Opening Oct. 22, 1977, the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge has transformed Southern West Virginia into an easily accessible outdoor adventure mecca for rafters, climbers, hikers and other recreation enthusiasts - including Bridge Walkers as the catwalk beneath the bridge was converted to a tourist attraction in 2009.

Go online at http://bridgewalk.com/ to learn more about the Bridge Walk.

Sections of Greenbrier River Trail reopen

An 11-mile section of the Greenbrier River Trail reopened one year after a major landslide during the June 2016 floods made paths in the area impassable. The slip was measured at 300 feet long and 600 feet tall.

Following extensive repairs, the section is open again, allowing full access to the 78-mile trail, which stretches from Caldwell to Anthony. The Greenbrier River Trail is a former railroad now used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

Go online at https://wvstateparks.com/park/greenbrier-river-trail/ to learn more about the GRT.

Canaan Resort and Timberline join forces

In June 2017, Timberline Four Seasons Resort and the Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, West Virginia, announced a new partnership in the creation of a single joint ski ticket beginning with the 2017-18 ski season.

The cooperative venture allows purchasers of a joint lift ticket to ski a combined 84 trails between the two resorts.

A lift ticket scanning system will be implemented at both resorts and an accountant will validate the skier numbers in order to determine the revenue split. The resorts will open at the same time and share similar hours.

New visitors center to be built At Hocking Hills

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced in the fall that the Ohio State Parks and Watercraft will build a new visitors center at Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County. This announcement comes after the Ohio Controlling Board approved more than $5 million for the new 11,500-square-foot facility.

This new Hocking Hills Visitors Center will be built where the current structure now stands at the Old Man’s Cave area. The new building will provide amenities focused on hiker and visitor safety, as well as have an improved opportunity to learn important information about the park’s trails and necessary hiking precautions, as well as the history of the area and its geology.

Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.