January 14, 2013.
In a failed attempt to find the trail to the High Falls of Cheat (we took a left at the fork instead of the right that takes you to the High Falls trail and the West Fork Rail Trail), we ended up at the Laurel Fork Campground. We saw a trail, so we decided to take it. Immediately upon starting the trail, we saw a deer skeleton- a little ominous, eh? The trail is a very gentle grade and definitely seemed like it saw some use as an ATV trail. It was obvious that beavers had been hard at work on the stream below.
This is just behind the main dam. The water is so clear here! We were kind of surprised, given the recent rains and snowmelt. The trail stays far above the beaver-flooded area, so there’s no treading through water (yet.) Since It’s so far above, you do get a pretty nice view of the dam and the flooded area.
As you can see, the waters were still a little icy despite a week of 60 degree temperatures. The trail begins a downhill slope after passing by the dam. It levels out at a flat, open meadow that’s surrounded by red spruce trees. The trail continues on on the other side of the stream, but since it was January and nobody was wearing waterproof shoes…we decided to turn back and hike out.
We stopped to look at one of the small tributaries, since it had several small waterfalls. We found some pretty nice ice formations on the branches overlaying the creek. It’s super spongy and mossy here, so watch out if you wear non-waterproof shoes on a cold day- mine were soaked after standing next to the stream!