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Sitting pretty on the banks of the slow-moving Greenbrier River, Marlinton, WV has a history older than the United States itself. The community was first established in 1749 and was named for settler Jacob Marlin after his companion, fellow pioneer Stephen Sewell, moved to a nearby hollowed-out sycamore tree following a series of religious disagreements. The town’s commitment to honoring its heritage can be seen clearly in its historic downtown, which contains some gorgeous, painstakingly preserved buildings.
Marlinton does have another claim to fame, though -- it’s home to the West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off and Harvest Festival, an event that’s been bringing delicious meat from grille to grill for many years. The deer sausage is great, the iguana nachos are tastier than you might think, and your pooch is welcome to join you at many of the festival’s outdoor activities as long as they’re leashed.
Unfortunately, you won’t find any dog parks in the immediate area. Don’t worry though -- Marlinton is still a pretty fur-friendly place! The town has a community park that’s ideal for a leashed walk, and there’s a pawesome state park right on the edge of town. And if you and your buddy are looking for some variety in your exercise options, you’ll find plenty of op-paw-tunities for adventure a little fur-ther afield!
You’d need to be barking mad not to take your pooch to Greenbrier River Trail State Park! At a whopping 78 miles, the converted railway line is the longest of its kind in West Virginia, and best of all, there’s an entry point at the southern edge of Marlinton in Stillwell Park. Most of the trail runs right on the edge of the river, and you’ll even find a couple of swimming holes along the route! The scenery varies from wooded wonderland to peaceful pastoral landscapes, and takes in a couple of beautiful bridges along the way. Remember to bring bags and water!
Watoga State Park is a real mutts-visit! Located just 14 miles from Marlinton, this park is a grrreat hiking spot for fitter furry friends in search of a challenge. The Honeybee Trail has a real sting to it -- it’s four and a half miles long, and features several steep inclines and some tricky terrain. This trek is not for the unfit of heart or the unsure of foot, but it features some truly stunning valley views. If you’re out of breath just thinking about it, don’t worry -- you’ll find plenty of more reasonable walks in this vast, 10,000-acre preserve, most of which are lined with colorful rhododendrons in the summer. Alternatively, you and your buddy can head to the lake and rent a paddle boat!
Beartown State Park doesn’t have a lot to offer serious hikers, but this furrific hidden gem is still well worth checking out! Tucked into the side of Droop Mountain, the park is famous for its stunning rock formations and overhangs, and the sandstone boulders, cliffs, and crevasses certainly make a stunning sight. If rocks aren’t your thing, you and your pooch can still take a walk through the forest on the fern-lined wooden boardwalk. The half-mile path is flat, making this an accessible day out for everyone, from the most athletic animals to older furry friends who can’t quite move like they used to.
Make no bones about it, Sunshine Farm and Garden in Renick makes for a fascinating day out for anyone with green fingers. This stunning arboretum and botanical garden has been cultivating a vast array of plants on a sixty-acre mountaintop for over forty years, and they open their gates to the public (including leashed pups) by appointment. The nursery is famous for its hellebores, but if you can, try to visit between April and June to get a glimpse of the Peony Gardens! The owners live on site, so it’s important to call ahead before your visit. Don't forget the doggie waste bags!
If you and your pooch are looking for something different to do, why not take the trip down to Maxwelton and check out the Smooth Ambler Spirits Distillery? This fabulously pup-friendly distillery even allows leashed doggos in their tasting room, so there’s no need to leave your buddy outside while you sample their wares. Smooth Ambler makes the best in real Appalachian whiskey, as well as various other spirits, and their tasting tours take place Monday to Friday from 2 pm to 5pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. The Scout 7-Year Bourbon is particularly pawpular! Don’t drink and drive!
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