For many of us, summer isn't summer until the all-American picnic has taken place. But wait just a moment. Did you know the picnic is not solely an American idea? Not to rain on your parade (or, you guessed it, picnic), but the word "picnic" has its roots way back in 17th century France. The French coined the word, or rather their version of it, in reference to a meal and social gathering in which the guests were each expected to contribute a dish of their own making. Think of it as the great-grandfather of our potluck dinners today. But no matter the origins, picnics have become an iconic summertime activity so many of us look forward to every year.
The picnic can be a simple affair of sandwiches or hot dogs, a full meal of fried chicken with side dishes and dessert or anything in between. But what makes a picnic, well, a picnic is that it's almost exclusively enjoyed as an alfresco (outdoor) meal - usually in a picturesque setting, shared with family, friends and loved ones. And if you're looking for great picnic spots with a view, Nature's Mountain Playground in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, has what you're looking for. With five state parks, two state forests and more than a third of the Monongahela National Forest calling Pocahontas County home, we offer nearly 350,000 acres of either state or federal lands to be explored. In other words, plenty of good picnic spots are just waiting to be enjoyed. Here's just a few great places to spread out your picnic blanket in Nature's Mountain Playground.
Rimel Picnic Area
Located 13 miles east of Marlinton on Route 39, the Rimel Picnic Area is part of the Monongahela National Forest. This road-side picnic area is easily accessed from Route 39 and provides tables and an information kiosk detailing the nearby trails. Enjoy that picnic basket full of goodies under the shade of the local white pines and then hit the trails to work off that second helping of dessert.
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
If you'd like a little history with your next picnic, be sure to give Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park a try. Commemorating one of the last battles of the Civil War to be fought in West Virginia, the park features at least two picnic areas along with plenty of hiking trails and an easily accessible lookout tower. Spend the afternoon enjoying a good meal and brushing up on your local Civil War history.
Seneca State Forest
Traveling north from Huntersville towards Dunmore on Route 28, will bring you to Seneca State Forest. Just past the park headquarters, on the right, you'll discover a delightful, covered picnic area secluded among the trees. Big enough for a large group gathering, this section of the park also includes a playground style slide and play area for children.
Watoga State Park
At over 10,000 acres, Watoga State Park can provide a variety of picnic ideas at just about any place within the park you find yourself. If you want a picnic table with a view, make the short drive up to the T.M. Cheek Memorial Overlook and check out Watoga's Mountain Picnic Area. What better way to enjoy your picnic in the Mountain State than with a mountain-top view? Also, be sure to check out picnicking at Watoga Lake. The park usually provides three picnic tables at the western end of the lake making for a truly picturesque picnic setting.
If you're looking for a great picnic spot in the northern end of Pocahontas County, be sure to visit Lake Buffalo. This 22-acre lake is located just south-east of Bartow off Route 28 North, on Forest Road 54. Be sure to bring along your fishing pole and wet a line after enjoying a picnic dinner. You'll be hard pressed to find a better way to wrap up your day.
The Highland Scenic Highway
The Highland Scenic Highway passes along the Allegheny Highlands climbing from an elevation of 2,325 feet, near Richwood, to a height of more than 4,500 feet. A 23-mile stretch of the Scenic Highway, also known as Route 150, features four scenic overlooks, each providing a picnic area as well as an impressive view of the surrounding mountains and deep valleys. Imagine spreading out your picnic blanket at any one of these overlooks and enjoying a delicious meal and a gorgeous sunset with your loved ones.
Of course there's nothing that says you must have a picnic table to have a picnic. With more than 800 miles of hiking and biking trails throughout Nature's Mountain Playground, you can just as easily toss some food in your backpack, roll up that picnic blanket and find a scenic spot of your own along any number of trails. Or, grab your mountain bike and picnic along the Greenbrier River Trail. The possibilities really are endless and limited only by your imagination. The real key is to get out there with good food, friends and family and enjoy the beauty Pocahontas County has to offer.
So, whether it's a simple fare of sandwiches or cold fried chicken and sides, go ahead and set some picnic dates, load up that basket full of goodies (pass the potato salad please) and head out to Nature's Mountain Playground - your summertime picnic destination.
Mountain Picnic Area - Watoga State Park
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