Getting Outdoors in Wheeling
By Jeremy Morris
With the status of the COVID 19 virus being unknown, below are some great ideas of how to get outside, appreciate social distancing and enjoy Ohio County. – Olivia Litman, Marketing Director
While we haven’t had much of a winter wonderland this year, it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do late winter in Wheeling. I surveyed a few of my favorite Wheeling personalities and outdoor enthusiasts to see how they spend free time in the colder months and a common theme quickly became apparent.
It seems almost every outdoor enthusiast has a special, almost symbiotic, relationship with man’s best friend. Dogs will push their owners out into the elements, no matter what waits on the other side of the door.
A New View of the Season
As CEO of The Wheeling Park Commission, David Lindelow guides the operation and development of Wheeling’s signature attraction—Oglebay Park. Just before winter, David acquired a puppy and the result has been a personal journey that has changed his outlook on the winter season.
“Having recently moved into the carriage house at the base of Falls Drive, adjacent to the entrance to Oglebay Park, I came upon the idea of getting a dog to enjoy the ready access to the various trails which surround the park,” says David.
“For years I have wanted an English Cream Labrador Retriever and in October I acquired Brooke, who at eight-weeks-old was essentially charged with walking me.”
For an hour or more each day David and Brooke cross creeks and streams, climbing hills and exploring the corners of the park that are seldom seen.
“We meet runners, neighbors, guests and other explorers who are taking advantage of the 1,700 acres that Oglebay provides. I have gone from dreading winter, patiently waiting for spring, to enjoying the beauty of the park during the winter season.”
Thoreau and Bear Rock
Outdoor writer and humorist Laura Roberts is an avid explorer of nature. She, her family, and their dogs can be found on trails throughout the Ohio Valley on any given day.
“My favorite winter activity is hiking with my dogs. The weeds and insects die off and the forest really opens up”, says Laura. There are several great trails at Oglebay that welcome dogs. The Thoreau Trail is my favorite because it involves stream crossings.”
The 16-acre Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area is comprised of four lakes that are stocked with trout February through May. Catfish are stocked in June and musky have been periodically stocked since 1963. During the spring months, March through May, the Wood Pond is managed under the WV Dept. of Natural Resources children and ADA regulations, thus making it a great place for a family trout fishing experience.
Laura is an advocate of family hikes in the management area. “For a more solitary experience I go to Bear Rock Lakes,” she says. “There’s a great looping trail that is maintained year-round and the rocks themselves are fun for kids to climb and explore. It’s a great Sunday afternoon hike that feels remote but is still close to home.”
Finding Feathers and Friends
One typically thinks of winter as a time for hibernation and slowing down in the animal kingdom, however birds are hard at work scavenging for food and keeping warm. The bare landscape opens up long views and gives birders an upper hand in their quest for peeping birds that are a bit more elusive in the warmer months.
“Birdwatching is always interesting any time of the year in Wheeling but winter offers its own unique conditions for both the birdwatchers and the birds,” says local birdwatcher Debbie Koegler. “Visitors to the area and local birdwatchers have more than enough places to choose from.”
Debbie has two favorite locations in the wintertime. One of her top spots this time of year is the Heritage Trail along the Ohio River. “There you will see Ring-billed gulls, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, and possibly Kingfishers.”
Her second recommended birdwatching spot is Caddy Camp at Oglebay Park. “The trees are full of woodpeckers. Once while participating in the Christmas Bird Count we saw Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Flicker woodpeckers all at once! Hawks and vultures soar in the sky while bluebirds huddle for warmth in the birdhouses that the golf course provides.”
As we head into Spring, grab your binoculars and pull on a warm jacket, get outdoors and enjoy our fine-feathered-friends.
For Sonya Fedorko, lazy hours by the mighty Ohio River is top of the list.
“My pap always said there’s nothing that beats sitting out by the river drinking a
Coca-Cola and eating popcorn. When I was little girl we sat at the Yorkville Dam on the Ohio side of the river, but now it’s Heritage Port with a cup of Wheeling Coffee.”
Fedorko works at Wesbanco Arena, home of the Wheeling Nailers hockey team. This location gives her plenty of opportunities to enjoy the river and Wheeling’s Heritage Trail year-round.
“This winter has been perfect for walking on the Trail and it’s been really fun watching the boys running around the Port. They love the Janie S. Altmeyer Playground, a community-built playground with a wooden fort motif that gives a nod to Wheeling’s frontier heritage.
“I feel like I’m making wholesome memories for them, hopefully, memories of what will someday seem like simpler times and that’s really important to me and my spouse Chris.”