One highlight is the 23,000-acre Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, where a wide variety of flora and fauna flourish—deer, turkeys, grouse, and black bears might be spotted from the hiking trails or the campgrounds. One of the more popular hiking trails is called Devil’s Nose, a two-mile path that loops around numerous rapids, rock formations, a waterfall and 10-foot high rhododendrons in spring. (Sleepy Creek is a popular hunting area in the fall, and hikers are advised to wear blaze orange.)
Fishing and boating opportunities abound at Sleepy Creek Lake, and West Virginia Wildlife said of it, “Sleepy Creek Lake is anything but sleepy when it comes to producing five-pound bass. No other lake in the state, regardless of size, has come close to equaling the number of citation bass yielded by this unique 205-acre lake.”
Also available for hiking and biking is the Route 9 trail, which stretches between Martinsburg and the Charles Town/Ranson area, and offers users wide open views and diverse terrain from flat land to sloping hills.
Berkeley County also has two nature preserves. Stauffer’s Marsh Nature Preserve, in Back Creek Valley, is a 45-acre wetland that is a favorite spot for birders, with more than 150 species of birds identified there. The Yankauer Nature Preserve has easy walking trails, including a one-mile trail that is wheelchair and stroller accessible, to allow visitors to observe the different plant species and trees that inhabit the 104-acre reserve.
When you’re done in from hiking, biking and birding, you’ll find plenty of entertainment to look forward to. Here are a few events to put on your calendar:
Fridays @ Five — Through August 31, these free outdoor concerts are held in the Town Square, every Friday, featuring a variety of musical genres, including jazz, rock, bluegrass, pop, classic rock, country and more. Bring your own chairs or blankets and sit on the ground. The front of the stage on the South lawn is reserved for dancing. There is no admission; concerts usually start at 5:00 p.m. and run until 7:00 p.m.
Through most of the summer you can enjoy the Fridays @ Five concerts while you shop at the Martinsburg Farmers Market. Find great local products including meat, eggs, fruits, veggies, baked goods and more. The 2018 market is open every Friday until September 28th from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Coming up July 28th is the Summer Peach Festival at Taylor’s Farm Market in nearby Inwood. From 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., enjoy arts and crafts, a future farmers carnival, West Virginia wine tasting, BBQ, and an antique tractor display at this free event. Of course, there will be plenty of locally grown peaches.
August 4 – 11 is the 71st annual Berkeley County Youth Fair in Martinsburg, a combination agricultural fair and carnival with bull riding, corn hole, a doughnut eating contest, tractor/truck pull, a Figure 8 Derby, a concert and traditional county fair food. A full schedule of musical entertainment, Miss Youth pageants, and a wide variety of games await visitors.
New on Martinsburg’s slate of events is Boots, Brews and BBQ. If the idea of 40+ craft beers, great live music and slow-cooked BBQ appeals you, get down to Martinsburg on August 18th from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for Boots, Brews and BBQ. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the event, and one ticket gets you 10 pours of brew.
One of the better-known festivals in the area occurs September 28-30—the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. This is a new location for the 43rd annual event, which features the work of 200 quality juried artists and craftsperson’s from 24 states. Live demonstrations, activities for children, bluegrass bands and plenty of festival food. General Admission is $7 at the gate or $6 in advance. Go here for ticket information.
Looking into fall, plan on the 39th Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, October 18-21. Watch an old town parade through the downtown streets of Martinsburg, listen to live music, browse the pop-up shops, and marvel at the work of local artisans.
Photo of Sleepy Creek Lake courtesy Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau.