Access To Two Popular Forest Areas In Pocahontas To Be Restricted
Pocahontas County, WV – Island Campground south of Bartow will become a walk-in only facility later this month, due to concerns about bridge safety. The area, which is especially popular with fishermen, currently has six campsites along with amenities including toilets and picnic tables.
Recent bridge inspections have raised doubts about the ability of those bridges to safely carry heavy loads. This has forced local Forest Service officials to consider how to provide developed camping in the area while ensuring visitor safety.
Recognizing the popularity of Island Campground, the Forest Service has chosen to keep it open as a walk-in facility rather than closing it entirely. However, in order to provide enough parking for people fishing, camping overnight, or needing to maneuver large RVs, the only campsite located prior to crossing the bridges will become a parking lot.
Forest Service officials will soon begin an overall recreation analysis of the Island Campground-Lake Buffalo-Old House Run area to determine what opportunities there might be for development of additional campsites in the vicinity. Bridge replacement is very costly, and it may be that there are better choices for building additional drive-in camp sites elsewhere than planning to eventually re-open Island Campground for vehicles. Visitors will see activity at Island Campground in the next week or so, when the parking areas will be graveled prior to a physical closure of the bridges later this month.
Access to another popular area on the Monongahela is also being restricted. Due to downed trees and damage from this winter’s heavy snows, visitors to the Falls of Hills Creek scenic area will not be able to access the lower falls. All portions of the trail beyond the metal staircase and lower observation platform to the second waterfall below the parking lot are closed.
Forest service officials with the Gauley Ranger district are in the process of assessing the damage to determine what repairs need to be made, with the hope of re-opening the trail as soon as possible. Violating the closure order of this section of the Falls of Hills Creek scenic area is punishable by fine. The closure will remain in effect until the Forest Supervisor terminates the order.