As mid-summer sunrays cast hotter temperatures, Central West Virginia is equipped with a special place to retreat with thick forests and leaf canopies providing cool spots along its endless trails. Less than 90 minutes from Elkins, Holly River State Park on Route 20, south from Buckhannon, invites those in need of a mountain getaway a perfect place to soak their feet in freshwater streams and to enjoy some of the best of West Virginia's home cooking.
As one enters the park and descends into the thickly forested area, the peace and quiet is apparent. It is a stillness that causes one to leave troubles behind and cast thoughts toward life's simplicity and nature's beauty. It is truly a world of its own.
It will not take long for children to spot the full-size swimming pool that beckons afternoon sunbathing. A huge playground nearby also awaits little ones. Additionally, basketball, volleyball, tennis, shuffleboard and badminton courts are situated in this recreation area.
Photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell
‘The Old Pavilion’ in the heart of the park stands waiting for fun-loving picnickers and their mouth-watering dishes.
Walking is a primary activity at the park, with 11 mapped trails. For those seeking more knowledge of their natural environment, a "Nature's Rock Garden Self-Guided Tour" has been developed to acquaint visitors with common sites in a Northern hardwood forest.
The Holly River staff maintain three beautiful picnic pavilions that can be rented by the day for family reunions and other special events. These shelters are reservable one year in advance and join many other picnic table spots situated throughout the campgrounds for public use.
If a meal is on your mind, but there is no time for picnic preparations, you will know you came to the right place. Awarded in 2009 the designation of being among West Virginia's "l0l Best Places to Dine" by the West Virginia Division of Tourism, Holly River's Restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Blueberry Belgian waffles with bacon, huge club sandwiches on homemade bread, lasagna and a fresh pie and cake assortment are among meal favorites. Leaving hungry is not an option.
Many enjoy camping in this park for weeks every summer. With nine large rental cabins and 88 campsites with electrical hookups, vacation possibilities are varied.
Reservations for these facilities and all arrangements for park planning can be made by calling 304-493-6353 or contacting www.hollyriver.com.
Fishing and hunting are available nearby in the Elk River Public Hunting and Fishing Area. A short drive also can get access to other Elk River locations. Trout are traditionally stocked during spring and summer seasons.
If a change is desired from vacations that take you many miles from home and seem to increase stress levels instead of eliminate them, this outdoor venture could be the answer.
The stillness will leave an impression and may also remind you of words from West Virginia writer Pearl S. Buck: "I am so absorbed in the wonder of Earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels. I have enough for this life."
Immerse yourself in the forest's solitude; emerge with desired peace and calm.