The Path Less Traveled #21: North Bend + Mountwood Parks
Andrew D 08.09.21
Finally went and saw my friend Jeff, he lives on the West side of WV in the town of Parkersburg. Wikipedia describes Parkersburg as “an area you pass through to get to Ohio, if you really wanted to go there for some reason…[humor]” As per his recommendations, I checked out North Bend + Mountwood Parks. I completed mountain bike races at Mountwood in 2009/10, but had never stepped foot in North Bend State Park before this weekend.
Welcome to our recurring series of “The Path Less Traveled.” We want to take you along for our exploits in the wilderness while hiking, camping, exploring, and general adventuring in this series. This will include our small daily victories, foibles, tips, tricks, and reviews of gear we authentically appreciate and frequently utilize. While a well-worn trail can often be the pathway to a leisurely day, the paths less traveled can often spur on some of the greatest memories, misadventures, and fun we could imagine. Join us in the Comments as we share our travels, and hopefully, we can all come together for a greater appreciation of the outdoors.
Meeting Up with an Old Friend
Driving Rt.50 west towards Parkersburg always feels like a slog. The speed limit fluctuates between 55mph and 65mph with little variations in the direction of driving. It often feels like the closest you can get to being in Kansas in West Virginia. Ultimately, a little bit of driving was not a hindrance in meeting up with old pals.
Jeff and I have known each other longer than TrackingPoint has been around. It’s been a few years since we have gotten together to do something, so I decided to head over and shoot the breeze while kayaking on Mill Creek, off the Ohio River.
North Bend for the Night
After a long-needed meetup and paddle, I drove up to North Bend State Park to find a good camping area on the trail before it got dark. After hiking in about 1 km, I found a good place to settle. Luckily, I brought a chair and book as the sun didn’t go down nearly as quick as expected. Despite being tired, I was able to get through a few chapters of Gene Kranz’s Failure Is Not an Option. (Great book by the way.)
In the morning, I finished my hike around Lake Trail to Waters Edge Trail to Fisherman’s Trail back to my car. There wasn’t anything very extraordinary about North Bend’s trails, other than the copious amount that I did not get to. I believe the website states there’s 60 miles of trails in the park, not including the 72-mile rail-trail system that heads towards Clarksburg, WV.
Brief Discoveries at Mountwood
After not sleeping well due to loud critters that night, my trip to Mountwood was brief – especially since the mountain bike was at home. You know that Day-2 feeling after little sleep and lots of energy output? That feeling hit me like a teenager’s first bong rip after getting out of the car.
Mountwood is not a state park, it is a volunteer and grant funded program that tries to do the most with what it can. Honestly, it beats several state parks I have been at in my state and elsewhere, but there is so much potential if more volunteers got out there.
Right now, there are dozens of miles of mountain bike trails, hiking trails, kayak offloading spots, and even an archery range. They used to have a shooting-range, but they can’t keep enough people out there to keep it mowed or maintained. If any gun companies want to sponsor a non-profit gun range, here is your chance! I’m sure there are things I’ve missed talking about here, like the camping and log cabins they have available. I did not see the cabins, so I cannot speak to their condition or quality, but I bet they are enjoyable.
One thing I did notice and wish I brought my CT125 was their ATV trail system! This was non-existant last time I was in the area (2010?) and is $12/day. When I saw the prices, I said something like: “That’s one NYC PBR!” The guy chuckled with me.
There are 25 miles of trails, and range from a light challenge to “you better have some good dirt biking skills” as the conditions of these sections, in addition to the grade is too difficult for most side by side ATVs. I plan on coming back to this.
As writing this, I am on my way to Charlotte NC, to visit the Billy Graham Library. Even when not considering his evangelical pedigree, the man lived an interesting life and became friends with hundreds of modern history’s greatest leaders. This has been one of those locations/activities that I have been putting off year after year due to nothing else in the area being of desire. Luckily, I’ve been taking my own advice and making time for things I’ve been wanting to do.
Is this one of those times teenagers would say YOLO or something like that?