Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kumbrabow State Park

Kumbrabow is in the heart of West Virginia, about a hundred miles south of Morgantown. We took the Scenic Route, Route 250, through Grafton, past Philippi, and then Rt 33 to Elkins, where we stopped for lunch at Hardees. Neither one of us had eaten at a Hardees in maybe 6 years, so the guilt was not too much to eat a hamburger and onion rings. And boy howdy, were those onion rings good! Big slices of real onion batter dipped and fried crispy right then, we had to wait 5 whole minutes, but they were some of the best onion rings I've ever eaten. Not just because we were starving either.

From Elkins we took Rt 219 South and then 15 West through some seriously fragrant farm country. Alfalfa smells good. Cattle farms don't smell quite so good. They're not nearly as smelly as the chicken farms on Rt 33 outside of Harrisonburg VA, but I was very happy to turn onto the Kumbrabow road and get away from the smell of immature compost.

The road into the park is long, windy, and mostly unpaved. Stretches of the forest along this road were so dense that it looked like they were harboring leftover pockets of night. We encountered a turkey vulture just sitting in the road, who was rather leisurely about getting out of our way. I watched him disappear into the woods and noticed the steep drop off along the edge. What at first glance seemed to be mildly sloping forest hillside was in fact just the tops of trees maybe 50 feet tall, growing up from way down the steep incline. I thought of my Mom and how she wouldn't like that little one lane road AT ALL. Seven miles and fifteen minutes later we found the campground.

If you visit Kumbrabow's Mill Creek Campground, we recommend site #8. It was shady most of the day and had a nice place down over the hill for our tent, granting us supreme privacy. (It was, after all, our romantic 13th anniversary getaway.) We had reserved site #10 on the phone, sight unseen, and once we got there we found it to be open, flat, without any understory, right next to the water pump and Mill Creek trailhead, and blisteringly sunny. So we walked around and noticed #8 was empty, and the supremely nice ranger said we could switch.

Our little tent down over the hill.

I can also recommend sites 4&5 which offer plenty of understory, good creek access and are connected by a cute little path in case you want to camp out with some pals, but not share too awful much. They are also near the outhouses. Sites 11 and 13 were large, with sun and shade, and each had little mini trails behind them going into delightful ferny landscapes.

The fern-filled glade behind campsite 11.

Mill Creek is shallow around the campground, perfect for playing in, and evidently home to some native trout. We witnessed a man teaching a boy about Delia's age to fly fish, and I was tempted to sit and watch them like I would watch any other wildlife, because it was really interesting and beautiful. The same kids splashed around in the creek and then rode their bikes around the campground all weekend. Keith and I missed Delia a lot, but even though she probably would have enjoyed the water and the sweet playground, the park has one fatal flaw (in her eyes). No running water.

Mill Creek

The park does have a bath house, with very nice flush toilets and coin operated showers, but it is at the Forest Office which is some four miles from the campground. We got our water from a hand pump. It was soft and delicious, almost as sweet as the well water I remember from my childhood. I didn't mind drawing the water, but we should have brought a camp sink and maybe something larger than two 1 liter canteens.
Sweet Water Pump

The outhouses were very nice, clean, provisioned with TP and perfectly normal toilet seats, and not at all stinky. The echo made it feel kind of like peeing into a well. A cool breeze greeted my bare bum every time I sat down, and I never quite got used to that.

Coming soon... Hiking Meat Box Run!

1 comment:

Patsy said...

I'm happy to see your "review" of the park. I'm happier to know you're home. ;) Looking forward to the next installment.