Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Oglebay Resort, Wheeling, W.Va.

We did a quick drive through one day and then spent a few hours one afternoon at Oglebay Resort. (It’s pronounced Ogle-bee.)

This municipal park was donated by various landowners over the years, starting with Earl Oglebay. It’s now 1,700 acres and offers everything from trails and golf to lodging and shopping. It’s a pretty amazing place.
There were Christmas lights strung up around the park. Our friend said the park’s light display is recognized as one of the best on the East Coast. We saw two deer that were wrapped in lights. They must have crashed into one of the displays and got tangled up!
When Chris and I went back one afternoon, we checked out Carriage House Glass, which is a store filled with a variety of expensive glassware. Most was much too expensive for our wallets. We don’t have a lot of decorating items lying around our house anyway, so it was not a big deal to us.

We wanted to visit the greenhouse and garden shop but wanted to get to the Environmental Center before it closed, so we skipped that.
The Environmental Center has several small exhibits explaining the wildlife of the park and had a small exhibit that explained the environmentally-friendly way the building was constructed.

There were also a kids’ room filled with activities and toys. Hanging on the wall were a couple of frames with several moth and butterfly specimens and their ids.

The larger, exhibit area had examples of feathers, bones and fossils that can be found in the park. There were also a few snakes displayed. When we were there, the snakes were being fed a mouse each. Chris took photos of the keeper feeding the snakes and the snakes eating the mice.

The keeper told us of a herpetology camp for adults coming up next June near the eastern border of West Virginia and invited us out. I’m not sure we’d go that far for something we’re not completely excited about but it might be fun. Now, if it were dragonflies or butterflies (which was this year’s camp), Chris would be all over that!
The guy also spoke with us about a rare, blue grosbeak that’s supposed to be seen in our area. We discussed it and I think I may have caught a glimpse of it last year on the New River Trail near Byllesby Dam. That was pretty cool!
Another interesting feature inside the center was the bird watching room. It’s on the end of the building with windows on two adjacent walls. There’s also feeders that jut out and open to the outdoors. You can sit on a stool and watch the birds feed on black sunflower seeds. We saw chickadees and nuthatches.
Behind the building are more bird feeders (swarming with birds), a butterfly garden and an observation deck with interpretive signs. The signs shared info about what trees are in the area, what butterflies and birds and explained a forest’s canopy structure.

Next, we explored some of the trails behind the center. The one we took ended at a waterfall. It was a very nice trail and a perfect day for hiking!

There are three trails, the longest being close to 2 miles and loops around. The center’s site says the trails are 5 miles long. We took the second longest trail and it was 0.9 miles out, I think.
Besides the areas we explored, there is also a zoo and planetarium, an observatory, golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, a lodge and cottages, dining and swimming. There’s so much to do there, I may have forgotten something! It’s worth the trip there.

DeHart Botanical Gardens, Meadows of Dan, Va.

DeHart Botanical Gardens, Meadows of Dan, Va., is one of the recent trails we’ve explored. (There are several more that I’ll write about in later posts.)

Located off of U.S. 58 in Patrick County, this garden is a beautiful piece of land to explore. But, warning, if you have asthma or other respiratory problems, please take an emergency inhaler and listen to your body. I had trouble from the beginning with tightness in my chest. Luckily, there were no problems but it concerned me. It was a very hot spring day, so pollen in the air and heat was an issue.

This is a private garden, but the owners allow visitors on the property. They just ask that you sign the guest register located in the mailbox by the gate so they’ll know that you were there. If you don’t sign in, you’re trespassing.

You have to park on the road side and walk up a very steep driveway to the trail head. There, you can begin a 2.8 mile loop down and up the side of  the mountain.

Along the trail you can spot all kinds of wildflowers — from showy orchis to wild columbine. (Please leave wild flowers where you find them!) The path also passes by a waterfall and a fallen down old homestead.

It’s very beautiful through the park, but very strenuous. On the accent back up the mountain we had to walk up the path holding onto trees and resting every few feet.

So, again, if you’ve got asthma or other problems, use caution and take an inhaler. Also, a bottle or two of water is very useful.

You can see a map and get directions to the garden here.