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Saturday at the WVU Core Arboretum

On a sunny Saturday morning in February, my friend Mariam and I set out to explore the trails of the   WVU Core Arboretum. The location is a quaint area that allows for many opportunities for education, research, and recreation.  Once  we got to the site, we parked and started on the Guthrie Loop trail. Mariam and I were both surprised by how little the local traffic could be heard. We could really only hear drops of melting ice, the crunching of branches and leaves from other visitors’ footsteps, and the panting of canine visitors as they walked past us. (Only after they received necessary pats for being good boys and girls.) 

A Basswood tree with an identification plaque
The American Basswood is just one of the many species of trees that are labeled at the site. The scientific names are detailed along with native areas that the trees can be found in.

The area consists of 91 acres of land on the hillside of the Monongahela River. There are 3 miles of foot trails with trees, shrubs, and assorted wildlife to view.

The kiosk at the entrance to the Arboretum
The main informational kiosk located off of the parking lot. Newsletters, trail maps, stickers, and a calendar of events are available.

The site is named after WVU botanist  Dr. Earl L. Core. In 1948, he convinced the University President, Irvin Stewart, to set aside the land to study botany and biology. In 1975, the site was named after Core, and was officially established in 1998. The site is managed by the WVU Department of Biology and is operated in part by donated funds from the public.

Mariam and I walked from the top of the Guthrie Loop to the service road near the connection of the Coliseum Parking lot. We talk to two men who were visiting the location.

Nicholas Bontano said “I like to ride my bike on the rail-trail when the weather is nice out. I am from the beach area of New Jersey and the hills of the Arboretum are a nice change of terrain to explore.”

Talking to Nicholas was refreshing because of his laid-back nature and willingness to speak with us. He spoke with passion and appreciation of nature. 

James McDougald was wearing an Ohio University sweatshirt which intrigued us about why he was in Morgantown in February. We spoke with James and learned that he was visiting for the weekend and did attend college in Ohio. We even shared some laughs laced with rivalry.

James said, “The weather the past few days has been a challenge and made for some pretty muddy trails but its all part of the fun.” 

The service road down through the Arboretum
A view down the service road towards the rail-trail and Monongahela River.

There are many popular events that are held at the Arboretum. Here are some of the upcoming events to check out:

  • Work Day Wednesdays
    • Become part of the crew that keeps the site beautiful.
  • Spring Wildflower Walks 
    • Participate in a tour of the Arboretum to see all of the spring ephemeral wildflowers once they bloom.
  • Spring Bird Walks
    • Tour the arboretum with the  Mountaineer Chapter of National Audubon to see all of the migrant songbirds return back to the area after the winter. 

A full calendar of all Arboretum events can be found  here

Once we walked down the service road near the rail-trail and the Monongahela River, we linked up to the  Rumsey Trail. As we were enjoying the scenery and were watching the sky change different colors above us with the impending storm, we talked to Kayley Cooper.

Kayley Cooper told us that the Arboretum is “a cool place to trail run. I can get in a couple laps while being able to stay relatively close to campus.” 

She also shared that she enjoyed the accessibility of the area from multiple places around Morgantown. She is a freshman student without a car but can take the Mountain Line bus, the PRT system, or walk/run/bike from the Mon River Trails Conservacy rail-trail sections that are connected very close to the Arboretum’s property.

The Arboretum Amphitheater
We continued up the steep path and stopped by the amphitheater. Mariam told me about how she stumbled upon a wedding happening right where we were this past summer!

We spent most of the morning walking around the different trails of the area and we encountered some more mud puddles and some bamboo. Mariam and I discussed the invasive nature of bamboo and pondered just how much work has to be involved to upkeep the spread of the species. We talked about how much maintenance has to be needed to keep the site so beautiful and we plan on revisiting the site for a Workday Wednesday event sometime soon.

Rustic stairs at the Arboretum
The weather the night before we went exploring at the site was rather chilly. This icy set of stairs from the Guthrie Loop to the service road is just one of the many ice formations that could be seen throughout the area.

As we made our way back to the top of the site to the parking lot, we were just in time to avoid the raindrops that had begun. We enjoyed our time at the Arboretum and encourage anyone to visit the beautiful area. The sights, sounds, and connections are unbeatable and the location allows for a immense ease of access. The Arboretum is open for visitors can explore the area from dawn to dusk every day of the year!

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