Wednesday, November 6, 2013

High on Alpine Lake

We are always looking for new places to take our flat-water kayaks. It is fun to be “the captain of your own ship” and explore different sites from the unique vantage point of the water. Recently, we made a short trip to Preston County to try out Alpine Lake, a privately developed vacation community with golfing, a hotel/restaurant, and a huge lake. I don’t remember how I first heard about Alpine Lake, but I had originally thought it was an exclusive resort that required membership. However, we had noticed their billboard along I-68 and had heard radio ads, so it was clear they welcomed visitors.

To get there, we drove I-68 to Bruceton Mills, then south through Albright and beyond to Route 7. From along the Cheat River we headed up Route 7 (with its beautiful view from the high ridge) to the interesting town of Terra Alta. Like many small towns in West Virginia, it is apparent that Terra Alta was a bustling place in its heyday. Just beyond the town (after passing Hopemont, the old West Virginia tuberculosis hospital), a sign directs you to turn left.

Just a few miles up this county road is the entrance to Alpine Lake. There is a guardhouse at the entrance, and we told him we wanted to kayak on the lake. He gave us a temporary parking permit and directed us to the lodge. At the reception desk inside the beautiful lodge, we paid $5 each for a day pass, and then headed for the boathouse area. Everyone was very friendly!

Alpine Lake is at an altitude of nearly 3000 feet, and sits adjacent to the state borderline that runs north/south between Preston County, WV and Garrett County, MD. What really attracted me to this lake was the fact that they don’t allow gasoline engine boats. With all the motorboats on Cheat Lake, Summersville Lake, and other major lakes, we have found ourselves dealing with their wakes more than we wished. It was nice to have a large body of water to explore on our own without worrying about the waves—or the noise.

We paddled our way around the perimeter of the lake, watching for wildlife and enjoying the scenery. For the most part, the trees come right down to the shoreline, with occasional big rocks along the shore. In some areas, we enjoyed gazing through the dark wooded banks at lush beds of ferns growing on the forest floor. Besides seeing fish, herons, and a muskrat, we also enjoyed seeing some of the nice houses hidden among the trees. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy and overcast that day, but we still had a good time.

Afterwards, we drove around parts of this huge development, admiring many interesting homes, most of which were well hidden amongst the woods. We had chatted with some residents at the boathouse and at the lodge, and they enjoy living there. Some of the homes are just summer vacation cottages, but others live there year round. It is a modern community nestled among the trees high in the mountains of Preston County. They also have a nice golf course (as well as miniature golf).

If you are looking to get away from the jet-skis and speedboats to enjoy a quiet paddle in your kayak, or if you just want a Sunday drive to a beautiful spot in West Virginia, then I recommend taking the high road to Alpine Lake.

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