Canaan Valley Winter Retreat

I’m back from another trip to Canaan Valley, West Virginia. This was a family trip. But I found time to do some landscape photography, too.

One spot I was excited to check out was the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Last year I drove through the refuge on a backpacking trip around the western side of Dolly Sods Wilderness. I didn’t have time to explore the refuge then, so I made a note to come back.

The refuge consists of high-elevation wetlands, forests, and grasslands. The Allegheny Mountains rise in the distance to create a dramatic backdrop. And during my visit, well over a foot of snow blanketed the ground.

The Blackwater River and other waterways flow through the refuge and eventually into Blackwater Falls State Park.

Blackwater Falls, the park’s namesake, was another location I was hoping to visit on this trip. One morning after a snowstorm cleared, we made the short walk down to the observation decks overlooking the falls. The falls were stunning. The Blackwater River meanders around a bend before plunging further into the forested canyon below.

During our visit, there was significant ice accumulation around and under the falls and a light dusting of snow on the trees and surrounding boulders. It was a beautiful winter scene.

Finally, I was hoping to make a short hike in the evening to enjoy sunset from the famed Lindy Point. Unfortunately, road closures within the park would have required that I hike a couple miles along the road before even reaching the trailhead for Lindy Point. There was at least a foot of snow on the closed section of road and probably even more on the trail. I wasn’t prepared to hike in deep snow, and it was probably better that I didn’t make the trek to Lindy Point anyway. The temperature plummeted to 13 degrees at sunset, which would have made for a very cold walk back. Instead, I enjoyed the view from some overlooks along the park road (between breaks in the car to warm up, of course). The views were amazing.

Once again, West Virginia did not disappoint!

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