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Volunteer Julia Kastner saw some amazing turtles on the Upshur County Trails last weekend. The trails are open for folks to experience family fun and learning while walking the dogs, hiking, running and biking. / Photo courtesy Julia Kastner

Take five: Here’s a handful of free (or low-cost) family-friendly activities to squeeze in before summer’s end

BUCKHANNON – Even though we are approaching the end of August, there is still time to log some quality time with family members and kids before the cooler weather sets in.

Fortunately, around Upshur County, there are many activities that are either free or have a small cost, and they offer the opportunity to spend time together, are educational or give families the chance to exercise.


The Upshur County Trails are a great place for people to come with their kids (or their fur children) for a very low-cost activity. Upshur County Trails volunteer Rachel Garton Weber said there is a little less than six miles of fun trails in the woods.

“This offers an excellent area for nature exploration,” Weber said. “Take a hike and discover different wildflowers, different types of trees, a variety of mushrooms and wildlife including turtles, chipmunks, deer, squirrel, snakes, dogs and birds.”

Weber said there is a playground and picnic facility near the trails.

“The trails are also a great place to try out trail running and mountain biking,” she said.

Additional information about Upshur County Trails is available on their Facebook site and they are located at the Upshur County Recreation Park behind Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Route 20 South.

The Upshur County Trails offers folks pathways to enjoying nature while hiking, running and biking. Rachel Garton Weber, volunteer with the Upshur County Trails found crane fly orchid wildflowers on the trail last weekend. / Photo courtesy Rachel Garton Weber

Another great place to visit is the Elizabeth J. ‘Binky’ Poundstone Buckhannon Riverwalk Trail, located at 21 Camden Ave. in Buckhannon. This is a great place to walk, bike or just sit and enjoy nature.

The Riverwalk Trail follows the river and features a boat launch and river access to the Buckhannon River as well as a new Dog Park. Interpretive signs highlight some of the flora and fauna present on this beautiful trail, which is flat and easy to navigate. Additional information is available on Facebook or at www.buckhannonwv.org/parks-and-recreational-areas.


The West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek offers visitors a view of native animals including groundhog, coyote, red fox, gray fox, fisher, otter, black bear, eagles, Bobcat and many others. The trail winding through the animals is approximately 1.25 miles and offers many opportunities to take a break and watch the animals.

Along the trail, visitors can watch animals play and play and can see the animals up close, thanks to plexiglass views. Interpretive signs tell about the creature’s coloring, differences in males and females, a history and how large they can grow.

Animals seem to be more active during the early morning hours. What’s more, anyone enjoying an early-morning trek is more apt to see the otter swimming through the glass window; catch a glimpse of the bobcats playing with their balls and moving around; and witness the bears scratching their itchy backs against the trees in their habitats.

The WV Wildlife Center has a gift shop and snack bar and hosts events throughout the year. They are open each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information is available by calling 304-924-6211, online at www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeCenter.shtm or by visiting their Facebook site.


There are three libraries in Upshur County – the Upshur County Public Library, the Charles W. Gibson Library and the James W. Curry Library. All three of these libraries are open and folks can use their facilities to check out books to read.

The Upshur County Public Library is located on Route 20 in Tennerton. They are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Upshur County Public Library offers plenty of books, free Wi-Fi, DVDs, movies, and computers. Their Facebook site lists tons of new print books and audiobooks they will be receiving through September.

Library Director Paul Norko said the library is open for folks to check out books, use computers for learning and browsing the internet.

“We are setting aside space for tutoring in case folks are doing Virtual School or homeschooling their children,” Norko said. “Keep tuned in to see any virtual groups or leaning we will be offering. We offer story time to go as well. It is a kit people can check out that includes crafts. All you need to do is return the associated book when finished.”

Additional information is available by calling the library at 304-473-4219.

The Charles W. Gibson Library is located at 105 E. Main St. in Buckhannon. It is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional information is available by calling 304-472-2339.

The James W. Curry Library is located at 1721 Brooks Hill Rd. in French Creek and is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The library features an attached recreation park and books available for checkout include fiction, nonfiction, large print, young adult, board books and easy reads, tweens, DVDs, VHS movies, puzzles and free Wi-Fi as well as copying and fax service.

The James W. Curry Library has a Facebook page that is updated weekly and folks who have questions may call 304-924-6724. This library is one of the sites scheduled to feature free Wi-Fi through Kids Connect.


Skateland in Buckhannon is offering a place for families to have fun skating together. Located along Route 20 at 240 S. Kanawha St., Skateland is open from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

Skateland opened with its ‘family fun’ activities in 1950 and folks have been sliding in for great fun ever since. A face mask/covering is required while skating in the facility. Additional information is available about Skateland on Facebook, online at http://skatelandwv.tripod.com/ or by calling 304-472-5472.


While traveling, everyone notices those historical markers on the side of the road, but have you ever set out on a journey to identify all the ones located in Upshur County? Why not load everyone in the car along with some large sheets of paper (butcher paper would work best if you want to make rubbings of the markers) and search out all of these markers in Upshur County while learning about historic people, places and events in the county?

There are a total of 10 markers sprinkled throughout Upshur County; they include one about Frontier Days, Destruction at the Courthouse, Jenkins in Buckhannon, McClellan’s Buckhannon Camp, The Bassel House, The History Center, Kesler’s Raid, Upshur Militia, Lorentz and the Population Center.

Enjoy your travels while you learn more about the area in which you live.

There are many things to do together and many ways to share time and make wonderful family memories. We know we have not mentioned all the ways to spend time together but hope you will take advantage of some of our suggestions to get out and have fun before old man winter is upon us.

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