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WV Star VIPP Coopers Rock SF, Tygart Lake SP and other parks in WV

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This 556 mile driving trip around West Virginia took place on May 11-12, 2023. Charlie Johnson was with me on the first day and I went solo on the second day.

Thursday, May 11, 2023- The day started out very early for me. I got up at 3:00 AM, left Manassas, VA at 4:30 AM and got to Charlie's house in Cumberland, MD around 7:15 AM. We then took two vehicles to the Casselman Inn and Restaurant in Grantsville, MD for breakfast. It was very good and even made even better by the fact that

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Charlie paid for it! We then drove to a Park & Ride in Friendsville, MD, deposited Charlie's vehicle there and then continued in my vehicle.

Our first stop was the northern terminus of the Allegheny Trail at the Mason-Dixon line near Bruceton Mills, WV around 10:00 AM that morning. We spent some time taking images of the ALT northern terminus kiosk and the signage within it. We couldn't figure out why there were blazes north of the terminus kiosk all the way to the PA border. After awhile we figured out that the 322 mile Allegheny Trail actually starts at the WV/PA border while the kiosk was about 100 feet south of the border. I was happy that we stopped here as I had previously hiked the AT past the southern terminus in 1999 and backpacked about 18 miles of the Allegheny Trail over a weekend in 1998.

Our next stop was the Mason-Dixon Historical Park in Core, WV. We arrived there around 11:30 AM. A very nice young lady that was the manager of the park gave us a short history and suggested that we hike the pink, blue and red trails as a loop to see the last marker stone that Mason and Dixon installed along the Mason-Dixon line in the mid 1700's. It was a nice hike that came in around 2 miles and took about an hour. There were substantial elevation changes. The facilities were very nice. They had banquet facilites, a playground for the kids, about 5.5 miles of trails, some rental cabins and an Adirondack style shelter. The floor of the shelter was full of leaves and mud so I'm not sure if I would want to camp there. But we had a great time at Mason-Dixon Historical Park.

We had lunch at a Burger King on I68 around 1:00 PM and then went to an out of the way place called Mount Chateau. This used to be a West Virginia Resort but, due to various reasons, it became a center for geological displays and research by the state of West Virginia. They had displays of things like old bones and petrified wood. Charlie was enamoured by this stuff. I was thinking the whole time how sad it was that this was not a WV resort anymore.

Around 2:00 PM we went to Coopers Rock State Forest, which I am guessing that Mount Chateau was the resort for at one point in time, and visited their visitor center. I got my WV VIPP card stamped. Charlie kibitzed with the ladies at the visitors center desk. We then did a short hike to a beautiful overlook of the Cheat River. It was spectacular. Afterwards we drove back to Charlie's vehicle. There was an accident on I68 between Coopers Rock and the WV/MD border. A semi tractor had burst into flames. Traffic was backed up for miles. It took us over an hour to drive what should have been twenty minutes. I hope that the driver got out OK. We got back to Friendsville around 4:00 PM. We said our goodbyes and I proceeded to go car camp at Tygart Lake State Park near Grafton, WV. I got my VIPP card for this park stamped at the lodge around 5:00 PM, proceeded to my tent site at around 5:15 PM, had the tent set up by 6:00 PM, ate by 7:00 PM, read for awhile both in and out of the tent and was asleep by 9:00 PM. It was warm at first but got down to the high forty's by around 4:00AM. I'm glad that I had my zero degree sleeping bag with me! I used it as a blanket and was warm and cozy.

Friday, May 12, 2023- Last night was the first time that I had car camped in about five years. I slept well and my back didn't bother me at all while in the tent. At around 6:00AM I got up, ate, packed everything up and was on the road by around 8:30 AM. The Tygart Lake State Park campground was very nice. I drove US50 to Aurora and Cathedral State Park. This stretch of US50 between Aurora and Grafton had loads of ups, downs, twists and turns. I got to Cathedral around 9:00 AM, stamped my card myself at the VIPP box, then proceeded south on US219 to Blackwater Falls State Park. I passed a sign that said that the Fairfax Stone was close by. I've never seen that so I'll have to go back there some day.

I reached Blackwater Falls State Park by about 10:30 AM. I got my VIPP card stamped, spent the $25 gift card that I got when I completed the last VIPP round of trips on a t-shirt, then headed off to Canaan Valley State Park, which was not that far away. Canaan Valley is the newest WV State Park and Resort. It was very nice looking and modern. It seemed like the clientele in that resort was more high end. I felt out of place there. The Allegheny Trail goes through the area of Blackwater and Canaan Valley State Parks. So I got my card stamped and then took off for my final destination: Lost River State Park near Mathias, WV.

It was about 1:00 PM when I reached Lost River State Park. This is an older and smaller State Park. Sort of like Cathedral SP. Like the last time that I was here, there were hardly any people at this park. I stamped my VIPP card myself at the outside VIPP box. The ink on it was very light so I went into the gift ship and told the lady there that the VIPP stamp pad needed to be reinked. She said thank you and that she would do so. She had a British accent and was very nice to talk to. So I was done! I started home on US48 and stopped at an overlook area. I took images of the hundreds of wind mills along the mountain ranges in this area. They were neat looking. Again traffic was not bad untill I reached Prince William County, VA where I live. It was slow going and lots of trucks. There was a bad accident on VA234 that was the cause of the problem. I hope that the person(s) in the smashed up vehicle that

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I passed was/were OK.

So I got home around 3:00 PM. I still have to unpack my vehicle. I had a great time with Charlie Johnson on the first day. We had our usual lively political discussions. But we both enjoyed all of the neat places that we visited. I am now at eight West Virginia State Parks and Forests visited as part of my WV Star VIPP Program. I still have twelve more to go. I may go out later this year and do another round of state park/forest visits. I also have a bunch of maintenance to do to my vehicle. So we'll see. In closing I learned a lot, saw a lot and had a fun time on this trip.

Mike C

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  My tent @ Tygart Lake SP.
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  Campground, Tygart Lake SP.
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  Windmills along US48.
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