Now that spring is in full swing, it’s time to get out there and play in some of nature’s splendor. And in the northern tier of West Virginia, just a few hours by car from Baltimore or Washington, D.C., three “Cs” provide hiking through lush forests, mountain views, swimming and fishing in pristine lakes and rivers, and even golf.
Enjoy golf and nature activities at Cacapon
Golf and nature lovers of all ages appreciate Cacapon Resort State Park near Berkeley Springs (cacaponresort.com), where visitors
can take in the panoramic view of four states from the summit of Cacapon Mountain, hike more than 20 miles of trails meandering throughout the 6,000-acre park, lounge on the beach at Cacapon Lake, and play golf on the scenic 18-hole course.
“The golf experience is wonderful at Cacapon because we have a hidden gem: a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed golf course,” said Ken McCarthy, head golf pro at Cacapon. “It’s something to brag about.” Voted the top municipal golf course in West Virginia by Golf Digest in 2009, the course is open year-round and accommodates all levels of play, McCarthy said.
For those who’d prefer walking trails instead of golf fairways, the park’s nature center offers a variety of seasonal activities such as interpretive walks and hikes. “We take a look at your flora, your fauna, and different geological things in the park,” said the park’s Renee Fincham. Other activities include bird walks, night hikes, building campfires, workshops, and crafts.
If you’re up for a real challenge, take on the Cacapon 12-hour Challenge Trail Run on July 11. Now in its third year, the event attracts runners from across the region who are eager to see how many circuits of the scenic 5-mile loop they can complete within 12 hours.
Explore the great outdoors in Clarksburg
Clarksburg is the perfect hub for exploring the surrounding region’s many outdoor attractions, such as the state-of-the-art Splash Zone water park in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park and the half dozen state parks nearby that offer activities such as golfing, hiking, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
“It’s a nice place for visitors to make their base for the weekend and travel wherever they want during the day,” said Kathie Titus, who promotes Clarksburg. (clarksburgvisitorswv.com)
The rugged natural beauty of nearby Audra State Park, which is about a 45-minute drive from Clarksburg, makes the heavily wooded riverside park a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. “It’s one of the best campgrounds in the state,” Titus said. “There are these big trees inside the campgrounds, and you can walk right down to the river to these humongous rocks you can lie on.”
Visitors also can enjoy hiking, picnicking, fishing, and swimming in the Middle Fork River, and strolling the boardwalk that’s built along the overhanging edge of Alum Cave. “There are tons of walking trails there, too, and all kinds of neat little places to investigate,” Titus said. (audrastatepark.com)
Experience tranquility at Capon Springs
If you’re seeking a peaceful respite from the hectic pace around the Beltway, a visit to Capon Springs and Farms may be just what the doctor ordered. Situated in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, the 4,700-acre seasonal family resort strives to remain as unaffected by the outside world as possible while offering guests everything they need for a stress-free getaway.
“We’re kind of old school,” said co-owner Jonathan Bellingham, one of a dozen or so members of the Austin family who operate the resort. “We offer an all-inclusive family vacation or group retreat — one price covers everything (including meals). It’s like a camp experience.”
Mealtimes are one of the highlights of a stay at Capon Springs. “We ring a dinner bell and everyone comes to a set menu and eats family style,” Bellingham said. “And everything is made from scratch and sourced from our own farms.”
Long known for its high-quality spring water, which feeds the resort’s kitchen, guest rooms, swimming pool, and spa, Capon Springs is a place of tranquility and relaxation, but there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure as well.
With a regulation nine-hole golf course, ponds for fishing, tennis courts, five different hiking trails, and a calendar chock-full of weekly get-out-and-play activities during the spring, summer, and fall, visitors of all ages are sure to find something to suit their interests.
This year, the resort is introducing disc golf and pickleball, a combination of tennis and badminton, along with reopening the newly expanded Blue Trail for walking, running, and biking. “We’re also having more star parties,” Bellingham said. “When you’re at a place in the middle of nowhere, where there’s no ambient light, it’s just a great place from which to see the heavens.”
Walking along the scenic fitness trail in Clarksburg’s Veterans Memorial Park.
WV State Parks
Golf is just one of the many outdoor activities visitors enjoy at Cacapon Resort State Park.