Bike, raft, run: take on the New River Gorge Games!

One weekend, three wilderness competitions. Up for a challenge? You’ve found it.

Challenge yourself with these demanding (but satisfying) New River Gorge Games:

Captain Thurmond’s Challenge | Aug. 5

If you’re fit, try this demanding triathlon. It’s one of the East Coast’s most intensive competitions— all 28.5 miles of it.

The first portion entails mountain biking. Mount up in downtown Fayetteville, then pedal over the region’s best singletrack, including Arrowhead Trails. Paved roads round out the remaining 15 miles.

Rafting is next. You’ll have to paddle through 7 miles of frothy whitewater, including Class III-V rapids. Prior experience is a must; this run isn’t for beginners. If you’re part of a rafting team, though, a skilled guide is allowed.

After that, 6.5 miles of running separates you from the finish line. While it’s the shortest segment, it’s also very steep— roughly 1,100 feet of elevation. Strenuous? You bet. The Challenge isn’t for everybody. But if you’re game, just completing this triathlon is an impressive accomplishment.

Register online; fees are $65 per solo racer, $150 for a relay team, or $165 for a rafting team. Add $10 if you decide to sign up on race day.

Fayetteville Town and Country 5k | Aug. 5

Casual and no pressure, this charity race is for walkers and runners alike. It starts in Fayetteville proper and loops past storefronts and neighborhoods. That’s the “town” part.

The “country” portion is next. You’ll trot over an easy trail before finishing at the beautiful Gaines Estate, a restful setting with meadows and stately trees.

Register online; entry fees are $20 per person. You can also sign up on race day. All proceeds go to the New River Gorge Learning Co-op.

Thurmond Triathlon | Aug. 6

Don’t let its name fool you. This race is great for beginners and kids 7 and older!

The triathlon starts at the quaint yellow Thurmond train depot. From there, you’ll bike 2 miles to Stonecliff, raft 1.5 miles to the Dun Glen Day Use area, then jog 2 miles through the surrounding area.

Bikes aside, you don’t need any special equipment. Duckies will be provided if you register by Aug. 1. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring your own craft.

Registration costs $20 for individuals, $35 per couple, or $45 for families.

If you’ve ever tried a New River Gorge triathlon, what was your experience like?

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An insider’s guide to the New River Gorge

Find out what visitors really think!

Exquisite natural scenery and exhilarating adventures: that’s the New River Gorge! It can be tough deciding what to do next. Hopefully, these reviews help you narrow down that to-do list.

WaterwaysGauley River in WV

The New River Gorge ranks as one of America’s top whitewater destinations. It’s also stunningly wild and wonderful. Whether you prefer to play with a camera or plunge into rapids, there’s a memory waiting for you that’s just your speed— guaranteed.

Here’s what folks on TripAdvisor think about the New River Gorge National River area:

  • I have gotten up at 4 and driven to Fayetteville and Gauley Bridge to be there when the trees were in their autumn splendor and the sun was just coming up. Valleys are filled with fog that gently lifts and the light of the morning sun plays out on the trees giving an interesting mixture of greens, golds and reds. — LKNCHOWHOUND
  • We visited the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and walked down the boardwalk steps to the overlook. It’s unbelievable. Imagine the Grand Canyon full of lush trees. — lecollye
  • Grandview: Had heard of “wild & scenic rivers,” but never a “national river,” so this was a first for us. A short walk through the woods was rewarded with an overlook of the meandering river, and hillsides covered with trees. Lovely. Be careful driving around curves, lots of deer roaming about in late afternoon. — MosbyScout

The Gauley National Recreation Area is a highlight, too— particularly if you know a thing or two about rapids. In fact, dam releases every autumn make it one of the world’s best whitewater destinations.

Check out these TripAdvisor visitor comments:

  • Visiting the Gauley is a must, especially for those interested in whitewater action! The scenery is amazing and the sound of the roaring rocks is mesmerizing. — ELFDUDE
  • Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. We were impressed with the depth of the gorge, the history of coal in that area, the history of the rivers in the area, the fact that it has world-class whitewater rafting and much more. — Barbara T.
  • From the first rapids to Sweets Falls there’s barely time to organize your thoughts and fears before you’re tossed into another whirlpool of adrenalin. But just because this is serious white water don’t be afraid to try. — Hawkeye2001a


Horizons of unspoiled forests, jagged canyons, foaming rivers— the best place to see it all is from the sky. Fortunately, you can do just that!

First up: Wild Blue Adventure Company, where you can tour the Gorge miles above the earth … in a WWII-era Stearman biplane:

  • Amazing views of the New River Gorge within minutes of takeoff. Live a little and have [the pilot] do some aerobatics, it will be an experience of a lifetime and make you want to come back again! — waltdisneygeek, TripAdvisor guest
  • We chose a 40-min flight that went along the New River Gorge. The flight showed the twists and turns of the river, the famous bridge and a waterfall. — RoyNYC, TripAdvisor guest
  • From the cadet check in-desk, the correct music [for the era], to the finishing touches in the restroom, Chris [the pilot] has done this the right way. Upon your arrival Chris comes out in era correct attire, looking like he just landed from a mission or barnstorming through the mountains. — nitro g, TripAdvisor guest

Next: Take a Bridge Walk under the iconic New River Gorge Bridge! At 3,030 feet long and 876 feet high, it’s one of the world’s most impressive structures.

Take a look at these TripAdvisor reviews:

  • Halfway across [the bridge] the rain moved in (you do not get wet) and we could see the rain and the clouds and the fog (which is haunting at that height) and even a rainbow. Pictures are taken in abundance, the guide makes sure of that. — bthomas28
  • Our timing was perfect in that we saw several kayakers and rafters going down the rapids. There was also a train that came through on the tracks below— and just as Jay [the guide] had told us, it shook the catwalk! — Jmo523
  • The highlight of the trip, for me, was stopping in the middle of the bridge to sit with our legs kicked over the edge. — Joe C.


The devil’s in the details. Get closer to the Gorge with a bike ride, quirky tourist pitstop, and fairytale visit— like hundreds of folks before you.

Here’s what reviewers on Singletracks thought about the Arrowhead Trails, a stacked loop system that’s ideal for families and competitive riders alike:

  • For first time riders I recommend a to visit to Arrowhead Bike Farm. You will get all [the] info you need and more. Don’t forget to stop by on your way back for beer and food. — Radar84
  • I am not an exceptional mountain biker by any means, and this trail system had enough climbing, descending, rocks and roots to be fun but not overwhelming. We covered most of the trails and it was a blast! Very well marked. — drazilnc
  • Super flowy. An amazing ride on trails that were built specifically for bikes. Best marked trails I’ve ever ridden. — fatadkins

If you crave some kitsch, head to the Mystery Hole! Your mind will be blown by all the oddities— and the incredible river views:

  • We came on it suddenly around a bend and doubled back because we got a good laugh at the structure. The staff was great and the presentation was fun. Well worth the time and the admission charge! — Fanglin64, TripAdvisor guest
  • It was a fun trip back to childhood, where science appeared to be magical. You get caught up in the moment. It is a marvelous recreation of childhood road trips. — JillDonnellyBennett, TripAdvisor guest
  • In the midst of all the scenic grandeur surrounding the New River Gorge, you have this old-school tourist trap completely at odds with its surroundings. And I think it’s that that makes this place even more ridiculous and fun. — Scott W., Yelp reviewer


One of West Virginia’s most photographed sites is the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park. It’s a scene worthy of an illustrated children’s book: creaking wood, smooth boulders, and gurgling water.

Here’s what TripAdvisor guests think:

  • Absolutely beautiful. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more beautiful state park and my cell phone pics turned out so wonderful, I’m having them blown up to hang in my house. — myjenyoung
  • The photos [of the mill] have been seen and sold all over the world. Found it kind of funny when I visited a flea market in Atlanta that a vendor had a made-in-China picture of the Babcock State Park. It is a beautiful sight at any season. — momofscooby
  • Very picturesque setting with the mill on the creek. If you have mobility issues, not to worry. The mill is very easy to get to. You can drive right up to it. — AAHolt

Even more insider tips

Stop by the visitors’ center for travel suggestions, brochures, and information. It’s a place no adventurer should go without!

What advice or comment about the Gorge would you share with tourists?

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Adventures in dining: Class V tastes in the Gorge

Bring wild, wonderful West Virginia to the table!

Why should adventure stop with the outdoors? Instead, try shaking things up with meals that defy expectations.

Country Thai Restaurant | Lansing

It’s exotic, eccentric and wholly unexpected. Rising above a quiet suburban neighborhood, Country Thai appears out of nowhere. Keep a sharp eye— it’s a gem worth finding.

Here, you’re treated to dishes of aromatic southeast Asian cuisine, prepared by the owner herself. Adding to Country Thai’s charm is the ordering system. It’s like a cafeteria. You grab a tray and bring it up front, where a friendly chef explains the daily specials. Typical delicacies include sweet-and-sour chicken, fried rice, drunken noodles, curry, and spring rolls.

The “combo” is a good choice if you get overwhelmed. Otherwise, pick what you want and pay—no waiting! Drinks are similarly unexpected. Soda aside, you can order craft beer, Thai iced tea and other Asian beverages.

Country Thai has plenty of table space and booths. What’s more, you can surf the web with free wi-fi.

The Stache | Fayetteville

This ice-cream shop has scoops of charm. It’s tiny, with shelves of bright toys and candy. Bar stools line the little counter up front.

The Stache’s perky vibe extends to its Hershey’s ice cream. Most flavors are exotic or extravagant— stuff you won’t easily find at the grocery store. For example, there’s Blue Moon: a mysterious treat with an intriguing taste. It sure looks tempting with sprinkles, though— whatever the flavor!

Superman is another oddity. Kids especially like it, because who can miss those vibrant stripes of strawberry, banana and Blue Moon? But if you prefer something more sophisticated, The Stache has gallons of choices. Traditional picks aside, you can try flavors like Cinna-Graham Swirl (a pound cake base with cinnamon-graham streusel!), Road Runner Raspberry and Cappuccino Crunch.

The Stache stays open long enough for seasonal desserts, too. In previous years, the owner has served pumpkin ice cream and homemade pumpkin pie.

Pies & Pints | Fayetteville

One bite of these pizzas, and you’ll be forever spoiled. Each one starts with handmade, hand-tossed dough and roasted garlic oil. Then, brace yourself for flavor, flavor, flavor!

Pies & Pints’ fresh toppings ensure eye-popping results, no matter which pie you choose. But because we’re focusing on exotic dishes, try showstoppers like:

  • Black Bean: the zestiest “taco” you’ve ever tried. Cilantro, creme fraiche, cheddar, jalapenos, salsa and seasoned beans thickly cover this pie.
  • Thai: pizza jazzed up with toasted coconut, shrimp, curry sauce, lime, cilantro and basil.
  • Grape & Gorgonzola: a local favorite (even among meat lovers!). Red grapes bring sweetness, while rosemary and Gorgonzola cheese keep things savory.

Not a pizza fan? Pies & Pints’ extensive menu also has sandwiches, salads, desserts, and craft brews.

Secret Sandwich Society | Fayetteville

What Pies & Pints does for pizza, this restaurant does for burgers and sandwiches. Starting with local bread and artisan cheese, chefs fill their creations with homemade ingredients. Even pickles, ketchup and dressing are made in-house!

Dig into imaginative offerings like:

  • Rawhide: a burger with jalapenos, roasted garlic mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese and an over-easy egg.
  • McKinley: a spiced meatloaf sandwich with chipotle-bacon jam, 1,000 Island and crispy onions on sourdough bread.
  • Truman: a turkey sandwich with peach jam, blue cheese spread and crispy onions on a toasted baguette.

Secret Sandwich Society’s menu continues with many more sandwiches— including vegetarian ones. Salads, loaded fries, and desserts are also available.

Gumbo’s Cajun Restaurant | Fayetteville

Low Country cuisine in southern West Virginia? Yup!

At Gumbo’s, you’ll find classics like jambalaya, blackened shrimp, and Cajun po’boys. As for sandwiches, try muffuletta— a zesty Louisiana sandwich with tapenade, melted provolone, and ham. There’s also the “Atchafalaya”: grilled rye with turkey, bacon, slaw, Swiss cheese and Creole tomatoes.

The appetizers have personality, too. Try Screamin’ Shrooms: breaded and fried fungi with homemade buffalo sauce, bleu cheese crumbles and dressing. Other choices include fried okra, crab cakes, fried crawfish and buffalo shrimp.

Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant | Mount Hope

There’s Italian food … and then there’s authentic Italian food. With the Veramessa family behind the counter at Giuseppe’s, you can count on the real deal.

For starters, say goodbye to breadsticks. You won’t even find them! Try the baked meatballs instead, or go for the breaded shrimp and cocktail sauce.

As for dinner entrees, you’ll have to make some tough choices. The Veramessas serve baked rigatoni, spaghetti with meat sauce, eggplant parmesan, lasagna, and ravioli— among others. Each serving comes with salad and hot garlic bread. The latter is so good, though, you might want to order some more. Extras cost less than a dollar!

Buon appetito!

Cafe One Ten | Oak Hill

It may look modest, but this restaurant doesn’t cut corners. One Ten’s homemade touch gives pop to seemingly ordinary things like hummus and flatbread pizza. Same thing holds true for entrees that break the mold.

Consider the Red Devil Deep Fry: a sourdough sandwich with bacon, ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese. As its name implies, batter and high temps are involved. But the result is delicious— and clever. Try dunking it in honey mustard!

The Breakfast Burger is another surprise. You expect morning burritos and sandwiches these days, but not patties. Why? Who knows. Fortunately, One Ten grabbed the bull by the horns. This burger features a fried egg, hash browns, bacon, and your choice of cheese.

The dessert section is pretty adventurous, too. Ever tried fried Oreos? One Ten serves 6 piping-hot cookies per order. Tin Roof Sundaes are an option if you want to avoid the fryer. Look forward to vanilla ice cream with walnuts, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream … with a cherry on top. Interestingly, the original recipe belonged to Kelly Drug— the original business on 110 Main Street.

What about you? Where do you go for adventurous meals in the New River Gorge?

The post Adventures in dining: Class V tastes in the Gorge appeared first on Bridge Day.

Where to get fit and have fun, too!

With ActiveSWV, burning off winter calories isn’t too grueling! Join the party with tai chi, yoga, and more this month.

Indoor Fitness Bootcamp

With a name like this, you might be thinking of military training. Not so! These body-weight exercises are for everyone, from former couch potatoes to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Join PE coach Kate Miller at Ansted Middle School every Tuesday and Thursday until March 23. Classes are from 3-4 p.m. For the latest details, follow ActiveSWV on Facebook.

Tai Chi Program

This ancient form of martial arts helps reduce anxiety through gentle exercises. Movements are self-paced and flow from one to the next. That way, you’re always moving. Tai chi is appropriate for any fitness level, and it’s a great way to increase flexibility and strength.

Joe Jett, a tai chi instructor, will guide you through 2-3 postures in each class. Lessons are every Thursday from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at SALs Historic Oak Hill School.

Gentle Yoga

Just as its name implies, this course focuses on low-impact stretching. Sit or stand through a variety of exercises that promote relaxation, proper breathing and posture. Yoga also increases your range of motion— a benefit anyone, regardless of age or ability, can appreciate.

Meet your teacher, Lori Keller, at the Robinson Annex conference room at the New River Health Whipple location. Lessons start every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., although the next class is March 28.

Sunset hike, Endless Wall Trail

A rim of unbroken sandstone cliffs extending into the golden sky— it’s one of the most remarkable views in the New River Gorge. Who would have guessed that exercise could be so beautiful?

Hit the trail on March 28 with Levi and Rene Moore, community captains. They’ll meet you at Fern Creek Trailhead, which lies north of the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. The hike will last from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This is just a sampling of the group exercise events Active Southern West Virginia is putting on! For a full list, check out their event calendar.

Which exercise are you going to try?

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