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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Hiking Upon Mt. Cacapon

Hi Blog!

We are little late in posting our blog entries. During our stay in Great Cacapon, West Virginia, we had limited cell and internet. However, we had an overabundance of beautiful fall foliage and amazing views. On Sunday, October 24th, we drove over to Berkeley Springs to check out the Cacapon Resort State Park. On the way, we stopped at the summit of Prospect Peak where were could look down upon the Potomac River. National Geographic calls Prospect Peak one of the five best scenic views in the East.

As we made our way through Berkeley Springs, we discovered a Sunday Farmer's Market. We picked up an apple dumpling for breakfast on Monday. We also stopped at the Grilled Cheese Truck and picked up sandwiches for lunch.

Berkeley Spring was America's first spa. A fountainhead of warm mineral waters frequented by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived in the New World are at the heart of the community. First noted as Medicine Springs in 1747 on a map drawn by Thomas Jefferson’s father, the waters for many centuries have drawn visitors seeking health and relief from the stress of everyday life. George Washington first visited in 1748 and made the area his favorite getaway through the 1760s.  In 1776, Washington’s family and friends drew up a plat of 134 lots, named the streets, and incorporated The Town of Bath, invoking the muses of the renowned English spa. Yet the magic of the springs prevailed, and the town and surrounding area are known around the world by their name — Berkeley Springs.

After securing our purchases, it was on to the Cacapon "Resort" State Park. Cacapon State Park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps on land that had been clear-cut for its timber in the early 20th century. It officially opened July 1, 1937. Most of the construction of the park took place in the 1940s by CCC workers, with additional construction of cabins and the lodge in the 1950s. The famous Robert Trent Jones golf course was added to the park in 1973, advancing it to the status of a "resort" park.  While we love to golf, we were more interest in the older historic CCC sites. We decided to have our lunch in the Batt Pavilion.

Inside the pavillion, we tucked into our gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. David enjoyed a mac and cheese grilled cheese, while Kathy enjoyed the Greek with feta and olives.

As delicious as those sandwiches were, they were also incredibly heavy. Not sure that was the best lunch to eat before climbing a mountain, but at least we weren't going to starve on the trail. 

We began our hike on Ziller Loop Trail:

Originally West Virginia was part of a great ocean and, over time, loose sand became sandstone, mud compacted to form shale and calcareous shells became limestone. Evidence of the uplifting and folding is all around. 

We began our climb upon Mt. Cacapon through a deciduous forest.

Cacapon Mountain takes its name from the Cacapon River (from the Native American meaning "medicine water") which empties into the Potomac River near the town of Great Cacapon. While the mountain is only 2,618 feet high, we had a 1,000 foot elevation gain in less than a mile.

There are no photos from our ascent, since we spent the time huffing and puffing. To celebrate reaching the summit, Kathy added a rock to the summit cairn.

The park map indicated there was a scenic overlook at the summit. As hard as we looked, we could not find the view.  A local hiker we encountered confirmed that, in fact, there is no scenic view because of tree growth the entire length of the ridge summit of Mt. Cacapon.

We decided to take the longer and less steep trail back down to the parking lot. We did get a view of the new resort lodge. If a more rustic stay is to your liking, you can still book the Old Inn, which was the original lodge built by the CCC.

Cacapon State Park is in the Ridge and Valley Province that was formed at the end of the Paleozoic Era by the horizontal pressure on the layers of sediment. All of the rocks in this area are sedimentary and it took 300 million years to create, fold and uplift them to their current form. Here Dave demonstrates how to show off your form.

As avid hikers, we have seen all sorts of trail blazes from simple cuts in a tree, to painted blazes in a myriad of colors, painted can lids and plastic circles. In all our hiking, this is the first time we've come across an exclamation point blaze. We wondered what it could mean, until we found ourselves looking down into a holler where the trail went straight down to the bottom.

While this was not our longest hike, we felt we got a good workout and needed a little refreshment when we returned to the trailhead. We made our first stop at Berkeley Spring Brewing. While the outdoor seating area was very nice, the brewery was filled with locals who glared at us for wearing masks when we entered the bar area to order our beers. We quickly quaffed our imperial stout and made our way to our second stop.

Cacapon Mountain Brewing Company was more our style. Located in an old mill building in downtown Berkeley Springs, the tap room was spacious and welcoming and they had several picnic tables outside where we could sip and relax.

We picked three styles to sample. The Fest beer was a standard octoberfest style. The porter was smooth and dark with just the right amount of sweetness. The Saison was light with lots of great belgian yeasty flavors. We couldn't decide which was our favorite, so we brought all three home.

We feel we only just scratched the surface of this area of West Virginia. Our next stop takes us further south in West Virginia to explore the new New River Gorge National Park. Stay tuned!

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