A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Hidden Treasures #6: West Virginia

Spotted Salamander Trail
Kanawha State Forest

(304) 558-3500

Spotted Salamander Trail

Spotted Salamander Trail.
Photo by Jennifer Bauman

In the Kanawha State Forest just outside of Charleston, W.Va., is the Spotted Salamander Trail. Named after the most commonly found salamander in the state, this quarter-mile trail was built in 1987 and underwent major renovations in 2016.

A short, paved path, the Spotted Salamander Trail was built to accommodate people with visual and physical impairments. It is wheelchair accessible, and features guide posts and ropes along the edge for the blind as well as interpretive nature stations with braille.

The renovations completed in 2016 include a paved parking area, asphalt trail repairs, new guide posts and ropes, safety fencing and a shelter with a ramp and a wheelchair-accessible picnic table.

Volunteers played a major role in the upgrades. In keeping with that spirit, a volunteer trail maintenance box at the entrance includes a pair of pruners to trim briars that could create a problem for those with visual or physical restrictions.

Guides often lead nature and bird walks along the trail, and its short distance accommodates the whole family. For those looking for a longer or more strenuous adventure, the Wildcat Ridge and Polly trails are very close by. — By Sara Crouch


Cranberry Glades. Photo by Forest Wander.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
Monongahela National Forest

(304) 653-4826

In Pocahontas County, W.Va., the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is a true treasure of the Monongahela National Forest, protecting four rare bogs and spanning 750 acres.

These glades support plants and animals that are usually found in more northern latitudes such as cranberries, skunk cabbage and the carnivorous sundew and purple pitcher plants, many of which cannot be found further south than this specific area.

sundew plants

Sundew plants at Cranberry Glades. Photo by
Rosanna Springston

Cranberry Glades is encircled by Cowpasture Trail, a seven-mile hiking trail that offers a closer look at many of the rare plants in this area. Do not step off the trail, as bogs are extremely spongy and ecologically sensitive. For a more accessible option, a half-mile wheelchair-accessible boardwalk goes through two of the bogs.

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center is nearby and offers a wealth of information about the unique plants and animals in the botanical area. While the boardwalk and trail are open year-round, the nature center is only open from mid-April to mid-October, so be sure to call before stopping in. — By Sara Crouch

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