Follow the leader to these 9 park activities

Explore the boundless depths of the New River Gorge with park staff and volunteers. From mild yoga to demanding canyon hikes, there are all kinds of summer activities for you to try.

Sunset Hike on Long Point | August 11 | 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

This is one of the most beloved jaunts in the gorge, and for good reason. Long Point’s dramatic clifftop vista never fails to stir the senses. There you are, on a sandstone precipice, with the New River Gorge Bridge at eye level. It’s a delightful surprise at the end of a pleasant walk.

Twilight at Long Point becomes even more majestic. Everything softens to pink and gold: the cliffs, forests and mountains. Well, that’s the “Sunset Hike”!

Before you go, please make reservations first. This is a joint program with the park service and Active Southern West Virginia (ASWV), so the volunteer guide needs to know how many people will be coming.

It’s also worth noting that Long Point is 3.2 miles long (round trip). It’s mostly flat, although the ending has steep, twisty rock sections.

Rock Climbing in the Park | August 12 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Few places in America have cliffs like those in the New River Gorge. If you’ve always wanted to tackle world-famous mountains, this beginner workshop is perfect!

“Rock Climbing in the Park” starts at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center near Fayetteville. You’ll get a basic introduction to equipment and technique first. Then, it’s off to those sandstone cliffs!

Because this is a joint effort between ASWV and the park service, volunteers and rangers will provide instruction. They will bring all the gear, too. Is that handy or what?

“Rock Climbing in the Park” is free, but reservations are required. You also must be 14 or older.

Sunset Yoga in the Park | August 22 | 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Slip away to some of West Virginia’s most tranquil escapes. “Sunset Yoga in the Park” does just that, plus a little more. Ever wanted to try some “sun salutations”? Relaxing yet strengthening, these full-body poses are a gentle way to get in shape.

For this free class, you’ll need to drive to Camp Brookside, a historic park in Hinton. Your instructor will have mats and blocks. All you have to do is arrive in comfortable clothes.
It’s as easy as pie— or yin.

Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Park | August 24 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This sport is hard to resist. Virtually anybody can learn it, too. What’s more, “Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Park” is geared for beginners.

Ready to dive in? Meet hopeful SUPers at Camp Brookside, where your instructor will provide everybody with boards. (Kids 7 and up are welcome, although anybody younger than 10 will have to share with an adult.) You’ll be an expert before you know it!

This class is free, but reservations are required. Knowledge of swimming is a must, too.

Can’t make the lesson? There will be another class on August 27. Follow the link for class information and reservations.

Tai Chi in the Park | August 26 | 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Originally a form of martial arts, this ancient practice is now a popular form of exercise. It’s slow, gentle and easy on the body. The benefits— stress reduction, improved balance and better flexibility— are pretty tempting, too.

Intrigued? Come to the Burnwood shelter for a beginner-friendly introduction. (It’s opposite the highway from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.) The next class will be on August 26 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Grandview.

Mountain Biking in the Park | August 27 | 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The New River Gorge’s scenic, twisty paths attract riders from all over the country. Join the club with “Mountain Biking in the Park”!

Everybody meets up at Southside Trail, a 7-mile path in Cunard. Abandoned mines and lush forests add interest to this easy trek. Don’t have a mountain bike? No worries. Your instructors have rides and helmets for everybody. Just make reservations beforehand.

Dog Walk in the Park | August 28 | 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Exercise is more fun when Fido is involved! Bring your furry co-pilot to the Grandview Visitor Center, where you’ll meet the pack.

Most walks are easy and cover 1-2 miles. Dogs must be leashed. Please bring clean-up bags, too.

Bluestone Walk | Recurring | Every Saturday at 10 a.m. from now until September 30

Explore this remote corner of the New River Gorge.

Your journey starts with a ride down Pipestem Resort State Park’s aerial tram. A ranger will meet you at the bottom. From there, you’ll start a 2-mile (round trip) hike along the Bluestone National Scenic River.

Tranquil yet rugged, the canyon is relatively untouched by mankind. Wildlife is plentiful. You might encounter box turtles, gray fox and bald eagles. Each season invites different critters, too. It’s always worth coming back.

The Bluestone Walk is relatively easy with few hills. Wear sturdy shoes, though; paths can be rough. You’ll also need $3 for a return trip on the aerial tram.

Bluestone Turnpike Hike | Recurring | Saturday at 10 a.m. on September 3 and October 8

Take the Bluestone Walk and lengthen it. That’s the Bluestone Turnpike Hike, a 9.5-mile expedition along most of the river. It’s fairly level but has a few mild hills. Wear sturdy shoes and pack a lunch with extra water. The rugged mountains provide some of the best al fresco settings anywhere!

Expect to be out for 4-5 hours. A shuttle will pick everybody up for a return ride to Pipestem. For reservations, call Sandstone Visitor Center.

When it comes to outdoor recreation, do you prefer going solo or accompanying a ranger? Why or why not?

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