West Virginia’s Mid-Ohio Valley is packed with opportunities to get outside and put some steps on your FitBit or miles on your bike. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or something a little more extreme, the region has an adventure that’s sure to suit your tastes.
Hop the sternwheeler ferry out to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. This island in the middle of the Ohio River is best known for its stately 18th century mansion—rebuilt in the 1990s after the original was destroyed by fire in the early 1800s—but it’s also a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the river breezes. Take the easy 1.5-mile hiking trail that loops around the re-created mansion. You can also take a bike over on the ferry and explore the trails—or, for something even more laid-back, hop on one of the horse-drawn wagon rides. wvstateparks.com/blennerhassett-island-historical-state-park
Because it follows the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bed, the North Bend Rail Trail offers a gentle grade perfect for cyclists of all experience levels. The 72-mile course—which runs along U.S. Route 50 from Interstate 77 to Wolf Summit in Harrison County—passes through 10 tunnels and across 36 bridges. North Bend State Park’s affordable shuttle services makes it easy to customize your experience. Do one short section or the whole thing—either way, someone will be there to pick you up when the day is over. wvstateparks.com/north-bend-rail-trail
Located a short drive out of town, Mountwood Park offers 30 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Don’t miss the new Pumphouse Trail, a 1.4-mile “flow trail”—a machine-groomed single track offering mountain bikers a smooth trailbed, banked turns, and rolling terrain for a rollercoaster-like ride past remnants of the area’s 19th century oil industry. For an even higher-octane thrill, the park offers 25 miles of ATV trails on 600 secluded acres. mountwoodpark.org
The man-made North Bend State Park Lake is a relatively young body of water, built in 1960. As a result, there are lots of trees standing in the water. Those trees have become a favorite hangout for birds, including red-headed woodpeckers—which has made the lake a favorite hangout for birders. It’s easy to get in on the fun. Just hang some binoculars around your neck, hop in a canoe or kayak, and paddle out to get a closer look. No watercraft of your own? North Bend Outfitters has you covered. wvstateparks.com/north-bend-state-park
Time to Re-Fuel
Pizza, Pasta, Please
If red sauce is your thing, try Jimmie Colombo’s Italian Restaurant. Fun fact: this is the place that first introduced pizza to Parkersburg back in the 1950s. Another Italian favorite is Da Vinci’s in nearby Williamstown, which offers a full wine and beer list alongside pizza, pasta, subs, and steak.
For more exotic tastes, there’s Chams Lebanese Cuisine—a great stop for shwarma and kabobs. Or check out Mango Latin Bistro, which offers salads and sandwiches alongside authentic Caribbean favorites like arepa and fried green plantains.
Brews and Burgers
If you’re craving a cold one after a long day on the trail, check out North End Tavern and Brewery or Parkersburg Brewing Company. In addition to their delicious craft brews, each offers a tantalizing menu of stick-to-your-ribs