The weather is glorious, the hills surrounding Huntington are in full bloom, and members of the Woodlands community are out making the most of every minute. From ponds to walking paths, there’s plenty to explore on the Woodlands campus, not to mention the engaging activities offered in these areas like exercise classes, fishing and corn hole tournaments.

But we’re not about to suggest that our 171 acres are enough to contain the fun-loving spirit of our residents all of the time. Here are a few snapshots of how folks spend the extra daylight when they’re not enjoying our on-campus activities and amenities.

Taking a hike—literally—at Beech Fork State Park

Located about 30 minutes down the road, this 3,144-acre oasis offers miles of trails and plenty of activities to enjoy until the sun goes down.

So, what do Woodlands residents do with all that space? For starters, the 14 miles of hiking and biking trails are hugely popular—and no wonder. New renovations have stabilized the ground, making the trails easier to navigate. The scenic 2.5-mile Overlook Trail is the most frequently traveled, but folks looking for something more challenging can try the 5-mile Mary Davis Trail.

The sprawling trails are also a birdwatcher’s dream come true. You can always find someone with a camera or a pair of binoculars catching sight of migratory waterfowl or tropical songbirds, like the scarlet tanager, northern flicker and whip-poor-will, just to name a few.

Beech Fork is home to a sprawling 720-acre lake. Folks from Woodlands can be found casting their lines there for WV’s most sought-after sport fish—including hybrid striped bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill. For more adventurous types, plenty of canoes, kayaks, jon boats and paddle boats are available for rent at the park’s boat dock.

Cheering on the HERD at Marshall University

When you attend a softball game at Dot Hicks Field, you’ll hear three things: the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt and a bunch of Woodlands residents cheering their team to victory—including Dot Hicks.

“I still go to most of the events… Woodlands is very good about taking us on their buses,” Hicks says. The buses take residents to every Marshall home game.

And now that she’s enjoying her retirement at Woodlands, Hicks loves the fact that she can still cheer on the Thundering Herd—not only during softball season, but supporting Marshall sports year round.

Living the pioneer life at Heritage Farm Museum and Village

About 10 minutes (and a century or two) separate Woodlands from this authentic replica of early pioneer life. Home to more than 15 log structures—along with blacksmiths, seamstresses and other artisans—Heritage Farm has been delighting guests for decades.

Its museums in particular are a huge draw. The Museum of Progress displays scenes of everyday pioneer life, while the Museum of Industry takes guests on a journey of discovery about mining, glass production and other WV businesses. And nobody skips the Museum of Transportation. It houses everything from planes, trains and automobiles to stem boats and stagecoaches.

It’s no surprise that the grandkids love this place as well. The petting zoo, nature center and elevated boardwalk give kids up-close encounters with the animals who call Appalachia home. Another experience that’s gaining traction among the young and young-at-heart is the new Adventure Park. Guests can channel the spirit of Appalachian trailblazers on dueling 1,100-foot long ziplines or challenge themselves on one of two rope courses.

Enjoying Open-Air Theater at Ritter Park

To many Woodlands residents, Ritter Park is revered as the “Heart of Huntington,” and it’s easy to see why. Located just down the hill from Woodlands, this 75-acre-oasis is known for its crushed limestone walking paths traveled by walkers, joggers, dog owners and cyclists.\

Nestled in the pines near the top of the park is the Ritter Park Amphitheater, home of the Huntington Area Regional Theater (HART) and other cultural events. Insider tip: You won’t want to miss the June performances of the musicals “Into the Woods” and “Descendants.”

Not far away is an 11-court tennis complex, recently refurbished to include pickleball, tennis’ wildly popular cousin. Also close by (and wildly popular) is the Ritter Park Playground, which spiders out through the park and is accessible by several wheelchair-friendly entrances.

And here’s good news for pet parents: Ritter Park also features Huntington’s PetSafe Dog Park, a local favorite for dog owners since its development in 2011. With three-and-a-half acres of grassy land—including hills, slopes and dips—it’s the perfect place for dogs to get their daily dose of leash-free exercise.

Whether you’re jogging the paved trails that surround your home or venturing out on your latest adventure, springtime at Woodlands is about doing it all…except standing still. Of course, words on a screen cannot do justice to the activities and enrichment opportunities, both at Woodlands and in the surrounding area. Contact us at 304-697-1620 to schedule a visit—and check out some of these attractions for yourself.

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