The West Virginia Land Trust has partnered with the City of Oak Hill to purchase 283 acres of land from the Berwind Land Company for public recreational use. This property will be the future site of the Oak Hill Needleseye Boulder Park, to include rock climbing, hiking trails and mountain biking.
The property is packed with natural rock features that will be a draw for bouldering, which is a type of rock climbing where a climber scales boulders without the use of ropes and a harness. “These rock cliffs and boulders are smaller and less technical than other local climbing attractions and will provide a good place for beginners to learn and practice more safely,” said Ashton Berdine, Lands Program Manager for the West Virginia Land Trust. “With rock climbing already being so popular in Fayette County, bouldering will draw a different crowd and provide new and additional opportunities. The curious rock formations, including a nearly 2-mile long rock wall, will also fascinate the non-climber and be worth the hike to visit.”
“This will attract a huge number of people. It will enhance our tourism industry and help the City of Oak Hill economically,” said Bill Hannabass, City Manager of Oak Hill. “The project protects a treasure, not just for West Virginia, but for traveling adventurers, too. The cliffs are strikingly beautiful.”
The property is also welcoming to community members looking for an easy wooded walking trail. The boulders and rocks, with their curves, portals, ledges, and gouges, will intrigue young and old alike. “The forest surrounding the rocks is equally inviting, with pockets of old trees and habitat for elusive wildlife and wildflowers. The hiker and nature enthusiast will find this a new and interesting place to visit,” said Berdine.
Next year the property will be transferred to the City of Oak Hill to develop and manage, and the Land Trust will retain an easement that permanently protects the natural and recreational values of the tract.
The West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund provided a significant portion of the funding for the land acquisition as well as funds from the West Virginia Land Trust and the City of Oak Hill. The West Virginia Legislature created the Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund to invest in the conservation of unique and important wildlife habitat, natural areas, forest lands, farmland, and lands for hunting, fishing and recreation. The West Virginia Land Trust also worked closely with West Virginia University’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic to purchase the Berwind property.