Hey there, folks! As an outdoorsman, I love every season. Not gonna lie. But come summer, it’s impossible not to feel like a kid again. All that sunshine, you know? It’s like an invitation to play outside. I don’t care how old you are!
Come hang out with me in the New River Gorge. I’ll show you my favorite hangouts. Anybody can do ‘em, too.
Here’s where you’ll find me this summer:
We live in an age of outrageous claims. I admit it, folks. Just the other day I was suckered by the “world’s best” donut.
But really— when it comes to whitewater, the New River Gorge is hard to beat. It’s one of America’s best. In fact, folks travel long distances just to try enormous rapids on the lower New River. But beginners can have fun, too! I personally like the mild upper; it’s lively but perfect for beginners. I like that combination, don’t you?
Then there’s the Gauley River. Its white-knuckle, Class V rapids and wicked currents are legendary. Locals call it the “Beast of the East.” Folks, this one is a rodeo ride. Some trips are for gutsy beginners, while others are for experienced rafters and swimmers. Ask local outfitters for details. They’ll give you a whale of a time.
Not all seats are chairs, you know? My favorite is a saddle— in this case, a bike saddle. I remember pedaling around my neighborhood for hours as a kid. And now that it’s summer, you couldn’t ask for a better time to escape to the woods.
Speaking of which, did you know the New River Gorge has groovy mountain trails? Darn right. I recommend the Arrowhead Trails. It’s a stacked-loop system with flowy turns and delightful wilderness scenery. You can rent top-quality bikes in town and even take guided rides, too.
The Arrowhead Bike Farm is seconds from the trail. Rent a mountain bike, then take it easy at the biergarten. I’m a sucker for their brats and pretzels! You can also cool off with some craft beer. I also recommend New River Bikes in downtown Fayetteville; they have bike tours and rentals if you’re new to mountain biking. Marathon Bicycle Co. is another favorite hangout. The friendly owner has free trail maps and a “demo” bike program. Try new mountain bikes and see how various suspension systems and wheels work!
I also love a good horse ride. The New River Gorge looks especially fine from a western saddle, too. Local wranglers can take you into the mountains, down old logging roads and past waterfalls. Some stables also have special sunset trips and overnight camping. Now that’s a summer vacation, pardner.
At the counter
I’ll level with you. Some of the best summer rituals are inside. I’m man enough to admit it. After all, what’s vacation without ice cream?
Here’s where I like to wet my whistle:
- The Stache (Fayetteville): Scoops of rare Hershey’s ice cream flavors. Ever try Midnight Caramel or Play-Doh?
- Cathedral Cafe (Fayetteville): Italian sodas, cappuccino milkshakes, iced coffee, espresso drinks, and the dreamy Rainbow Fizz: sherbet with Sierra Mist!
- Top Knot (Oak Hill): Vanilla iced coffees and mochas, made with ground beans on site.
- The Custard Stand (Oak Hill): flavored custard, soft-serve ice cream, and sundaes. Add toppings like M&Ms for an extra treat.
I’m a big fan of the Lively Amphitheater in Oak Hill. You can watch a free movie every Saturday at dusk, all throughout summer. Bring a blanket, grab some free popcorn and enjoy the show.
Now that I’ve shot my mouth off, share your thoughts with me. Where do you like to spend summer in the New River Gorge? Maybe I’ll give your ideas a try.