Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Boardwalk Is Better Than Ever by Brian Sarfino


To get a good glimpse of Canaan Valley and its wetlands, head to the Freeland Road boardwalk and overlook. The overlook is part of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and more than 16,000 acres of federally preserved lands. The boardwalk was built as an easily accessible way for all people to experience the wildlife refuge and wetland.

Recently the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge headquarters was slated for an entirely new building. With this, some of the funding was allocated for recreational improvements. About two miles southeast of the headquarters and visitor center a boardwalk was constructed off of Freeland Road when the Canaan Valley National Wildlife refuge was first established. Over two decades old, it was time for an everlasting replacement.

One of the biggest challenges for any visitor coming to a wilderness environment is accessibility for all ages and abilities. If we do not make theses wild places accessible to experience, folks will not understand why these lands are protected and the importance of keeping them funded.

My mother sporting her covid hairdo.



A few weeks ago I took my 70 something mother and her immobile frozen shoulder for a walk around the recently completed boardwalk. The boardwalk literally extends from a newly paved parking lot into the refuge. With designated handicapped spots, the experience is ideal for wheelchairs or any walking aid with wheels. The Trex planks used for the tread are slotted, therefore walking aids that slide across surfaces may be cumbersome.

Morning and evening are best to view wildlife.



This would be my mom’s first time to the Freeland Road boardwalk. To see her genuine amazement at the quality of construction and inviting surface said it all. The entire surface is six feet wide with safety guides on each side so no one rolls off. The deck is also flat as a board, no ups and downs or odd undulations.

As we made our way around the quarter mile boardwalk loop, I noticed one thing in particular. The overall height is now 18 inches to two feet off the ground. This really made quite the difference when peering over tall grasses and vegetation to see beaver activity. An elevated observation deck is also new with handicap ramp and custom benches to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.


Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuges Freeland Road boardwalk is located off of Rt. 32 between the refuge headquarters and Canaan Valley State Park. Freeland road is on the east side of Rt. 32. This is also the road White Grass Ski Area is on, so look for signage. The parking lot is a mile from Rt.32, located on your left hand side. Happy trails and explore your Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge today.

Cheers!

Brian

Sun sets on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia