Mon Forest celebrates Memorial Day and a new trail system
Memorial Day is the traditional kick-off for summer recreation, and many popular areas may be extra busy this year. And the staff on the Monongahela National Forest would like you and your family to have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend if you plan to visit the forest. Forest Supervisor Shawn Cochran says the increased visitation seen on the forest last year has continued into this year. With that in mind, they offer some tips to make sure you and your family will be safe and have fun while visiting the forest this Memorial Day weekend.
- You can check the Forest website to see the latest safety alerts and closure orders at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mnf/alerts-notices.
- If the parking lot is full at the location you want to visit, have a backup plan for another place to visit. Visit this webpage for ideas: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/mnf/recreation.
- Carefully monitor your campfire. Never leave a campfire unattended. And be sure to extinguish the fire completely, repeatedly pouring water on it until the remains are cool. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
- If you plan to visit a Wilderness area on the Forest, educate yourself on what that means: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mnf/specialplaces/?cid=stelprdb5084288. You might be surprised to learn that you need to be self-sufficient. There are no bathrooms, trails are often unmarked, cell service may be unavailable, and group sizes are limited to 10.
- Be considerate of others and pay attention to your surroundings. Obey all signs and posted restrictions. If you pack it in, please pack it out and practice Leave No Trace principles. Follow the Leave No Trace 7 Principles, © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: LNT.org.
- Cell service is spotty across the Forest and if you get into trouble you may be on your own for a while before help can reach you. Be sure to always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Be aware that you are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.
- If you’re going to be on the water, please wear a lifejacket. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 85% of all boating-related fatalities were due to not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets save lives.
- Be prepared for all types of weather, and check weather conditions often. Sudden storms are common in the mountains of West Virginia and may cause flash flooding.
- Swimming is not permitted at lakes on Monongahela National Forest, except for the designated swimming areas at Lake Sherwood and Blue Bend. Even in those locations, lifeguards are not provided, so never swim alone and always monitor children.
You can also check out a new trail system on the Mon on National Trails Day, June 5th. You’re invited to join Monongahela National Forest staff and partners to celebrate the grand opening of the Mower Basin Trails system near Huttonsville on that Saturday beginning at noon.
“This project is the result of a lot of hard work and persistence on the part of our partners and Forest staff over the past three years,” said District Ranger Jack Tribble. “I’m proud of the work they have done here so far and looking forward to future projects that will expand this trail system to the south.”
The trail system was constructed in collaboration with the American Conservation Experience, West Virginia University, and volunteer Bruce Wohleber. Construction was funded by a grant from the West Virginia Recreation Trails Program, two Secure Rural Schools grants, and other federal funding.
The Mower Basin Trails are in an area known as the Mower Tract in Randolph county, on formerly mined lands that have been the focus of a partnership-led restoration effort for the past ten years. The trails meander through open meadows, high-elevation red spruce, and northern hardwood forests. Plans are in the works to expand the trail system significantly in the future.
Directions to the trailhead and site of the celebration:
From Huttonsville follow US 250 for nine miles, then turn right on Forest Road 227. Follow Forest Road 227 for about six miles to the Mower Basin Trails sign. Turn left onto Forest Road 227C and follow it for about ¾-mile to the Mower Basin Trailhead.
From Bartow follow US 250 for 13 miles and turn left on Forest Road 227. Follow Forest Road 227 for about six miles to the Mower Basin Trails sign. Turn left onto Forest Road 227C and follow it for about ¾-mile to the Mower Basin Trailhead.
For more information about volunteering to help with trail work, contact Recreation Specialist Jon Wheeler at the Greenbrier Ranger District at (304) 456-3335 x115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.