FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WV News) – With the October hold on, Marion County is offering a variety of fall-friendly outdoor activities for those who want to get a few more trips before the cold weather sets in, as well as autumnal treats and desserts for foodies.
According to Leisha Elliott, executive director of the Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau, those looking for outdoor recreation this month won’t have to travel very far between the county’s two state parks, the rail trail system, and more.
“The rail lines are a great opportunity to be outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures,” said Elliott. “The fall foliage makes it such a beautiful setting for walking or cycling. Fishing is the same in that it is another way for people to be outside before winter weather forces us to be inside. “
Additionally, Elliott said that for lovers of fall foliage and weather, October should visit Valley Falls State Park and Pricketts Fort State Park.
Once the cool weather hits and the leaves start turning, Valley Falls State Park becomes one of the county’s most-visited destinations, and Brett Harshbarger, the park’s superintendent, said it’s easy to see why the park is so popular is.
“We have the falls here, and that’s a draw all year round,” said Harshbarger. “But especially in the fall, when we start getting color in the trees, we have a lot of weddings because they want the fall foliage for the background and the pictures. We also have a lot of photographers who come to do photo shoots. Of course, people keep coming back for hiking and cycling. People want to get out and see some color, see the waterfalls and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the state in the fall. “
Elliott said that she thinks Valley Falls is one of the top must-see travel destinations in the state.
“Valley Falls State Park is a beautiful recreational area where people can socialize and enjoy being outside and enjoying the fall colors,” said Elliott. “Whether you just want to spend some time outdoors or hike for exercise or mountain biking, Valley Falls has it. People need to take advantage of West Virginia’s natural beauty. “
Valley Falls isn’t the only Marion County’s state park worth visiting, however. For those who want to get out and see the fall colors too – but don’t mind a little history either – you can check out Prickett’s Fort State Park.
In addition to the rail system and access to the Monongahela River, Prickett’s Fort includes a lifelike 18th-century fort and a 19th-century house, both of which can be toured during the fall season.
At the end of November and beginning of December, the fort also offers candlelit Christmas tours and other festive activities.
Elliott also sang praises of Prickett’s Fort.
“Prickett’s Fort is a multi-faceted way to enjoy the outdoors,” said Elliott. “There is the fort itself and they go on tours. There are still some activities planned for the fall that will also take place outdoors for people to enjoy. They have the train test right at the fort so that people can cycle and walk.
“There is an observation deck overlooking the river and you can launch a boat or kayak there. Families can just go there and enjoy the time together. It’s a great time to be outside and enjoy the fall foliage and weather while it’s nice to be outside. “
Greg Bray, the state park executive director, also encouraged attendees to visit Prickett’s Fort and other Marion County destinations this fall.
“We always have a good fall because people are looking at the leaves outside,” Bray said. “If you’re going to a WVU soccer game, come over. It only takes an hour to get to Morgantown during a game. We always encourage people to stop and visit the leaves and look at the leaves and enjoy the programming here. There are other things in Marion County and around the state so you can make a day of it. Just get out and have fun. Enjoy life a little. “
For residents or visitors who want to have fun outdoors while enjoying the Halloween atmosphere of October, Coal Country Minigolf has brought back its “Spooky Golf” sessions for the month, with both Halloween decorations on each hole and staff in Costumes lurk around to scare golfers away.
“They decorate for Halloween and it’s family friendly, so it’s not outrageously scary, but it’s a lot of fun,” Elliott said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to be outside, especially when the weather is nice. You are surrounded by autumn leaves and the family has a lot of fun. “
Finally, of course, Elliott said that no fall adventure in Marion County would be complete without a stop at one of the county’s several stores that have special, seasonal desserts, drinks, and more in store for the next several months.
“I know several of our ice cream parlors and restaurants offer pumpkin-flavored treats,” Elliott said. “Pufferbelly’s does a good job with some of their different fall flavors. Our Back Porch in Mannington offers homemade pumpkin rolls served with ice cream and caramel sauce. The Joe has pumpkin-flavored coffee. People can enjoy the change of seasons with a change of flavors. “
John Mark Shaver, Editor of Fairmont News, can be reached at 304-844-8485 or [email protected]