Mother Nature provides Advantage Valley residents with good reasons to get outside
If it can be done outdoors, it can be done in Advantage Valley.
The region, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, offers proximity to best-in-class hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities, and offers opportunities to stay active in all seasons.
The region is within close proximity to major national parks with world class white water. The New River Gorge National Recreation Area is home to one of the oldest rivers on the continent for family friendly float trips or whitewater that forms raging class V rapids. The Gauley River National Recreation Area attracts international adventure seekers to experience the whitewater thrill of this 27 miles river that drops more than 800 feet.
Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy the nationally known Hatfield-McCoy Trails, which feature 700 miles of ATV and off-roading opportunities. Over 55,000 visitors annually visit the trails that are open 365 days a year and provide something for every riding skill level.
And if you’re looking for the best snow and cross-country skiing in the mid-Atlantic, Advantage Valley is a day trip to resorts in Canaan Valley and Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, now owned by Aspen Skiing Company.
Locally, the 9,300 acre Kanawha State Forest, located just 7 miles from downtown Charleston, is known for its 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. In-season hunting with proper licenses is also allowed in specified areas of the forest. Coonskin Park is located 10 minutes from downtown Charleston and includes over a thousand acres of woodland, hiking and biking trails, disk golf, a handicapped accessible 18 hole par three golf course, an Olympic size pool, picnic shelters of all sizes, tennis courts, and a 3000 seat soccer stadium. Huntington’s Ritter Park is considered the Crown Jewel of Huntington’s Park District. Its 75 acres and numerous amenities contributed to it being designated one of the top ten "Best Public Spaces in America" by the American Planning Association. The award winning Ritter Park Rose Garden with over 3300 roses, many of which are historic AAS winners, is a top choice for June weddings and events.
On the Right PATH
For bicyclists, walkers and joggers, one of the top spots for exercise and fresh air is along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH. The PATH trail system in Huntington is named for Dr. Paul Ambrose, a promising young physician killed at the Pentagon during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Today, the growing PATH initiative features more than 18 miles of trails accessible to many of Huntington’s attractions and workplaces, allowing residents an alternative means of transportation. The PATH mission is to eventually connect the trail system to all neighborhoods in Huntington.
Take to the Water
Water plays a featured role in Advantage Valley, which is crisscrossed by several rivers, including the Ohio, Guyandotte, Elk, Kanawha, Mud and Coal, that provide opportunities for canoeists, kayakers and water recreation enthusiasts. A favorite spot for kayakers is the Coal River, a tributary of the Kanawha River. The Coal River Group, formed in the early 2000s, works to promote the Big Coal, Little Coal and Coal rivers for recreational use. “I didn’t dream then of a kayak revolution occurring in our region, but that’s what is happening today,” says Bill Currey, founder and chairman of the Coal River Group. “The entire three-river water trail stretches 88 miles,” Currey says. I see outdoor recreation becoming a major economic factor for this region.” The Group stages the annual Tour de Coal kayaking event that attracts about 2,000 kayakers each June to Advantage Valley.
West Virginia’s most recent state park, the Elk River Rail Trail, represents over 50 miles of historic rail corridor that has been converted to a hiking and biking trail along the scenic Elk River. Known as one of the most ecologically diverse rivers east of the Mississippi, the Elk is perfect for family kayak and paddle boarding outings.
Kicking and Shouting
The $17 million Shawnee Sports Complex, spans 127 acres and features six collegiate turf/multipurpose fields for soccer and lacrosse, and four collegiate-size baseball and softball fields. When coupled with the Village of Barboursville’s multi-sports and soccer complex, these facilities host national youth sports tournaments and provide an estimated $30 million annual economic impact to the region.