If you find yourself in Lewisburg and feel the urge to go for a drive, I highly recommend heading north on Route 219 to a little place called Beartown State Park. There’s something great about driving through the rolling countryside on a nice day with the windows down and .38 Special cranked up on the radio. That’s an essential part of the journey, in my opinion. Certainly, the destination is key, but the “there and back again” is a large portion of the experience. Enjoy the ride. (Pictured above: Lisa Berberette)
Compared to other parks in this vast nation of ours, Beartown is relatively small. At just over a hundred acres bridging Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, you’ll find it nestled neatly at the southern end of Monongahela National Forest. There, the park is fitted with wooden walkways that guide you through an array of natural sandstone crevasses, shaped by time and canopied by a wide range of flora. You’ll come across several signs to explain the finer points of Beartown and the process of lithification that both destroys and recreates its formations.
Even in mid-summer, you’ll feel the temperature to be much cooler here; a microclimate created in this little pocket of earth gives respite from the heat as air wafts up from underground caves. Sit a moment on a nearby bench and listen to the sounds of the forest and take in this splendid little slice of wildlife. From the bright oak and maple leaves to the blankets of ferns, moss, and lichen, this place is covered with fresh hues of green during the summer months, lending to the overall feel of contentment one might discover in nature.
I think my favorite part of this park is that you can set your own pace while you’re there. You can make a quick jaunt of it if you must fit it into a busy itinerary. Or, if you’re like me, sit a while and enjoy the peace of a soft breeze rustling the treetops and observe the plethora of wild birds and small creatures that call this place home. So, pack up your friends and family and head to Beartown, West Virginia.
– Lee Meredith McMullan of Clifton Forge, VA. HashtagWV #115. July 2019.