Fenwick Mines still a favorite for many

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Angela Paitsel likes to exercise on the trails, and has good memories at the pond with her children. She took this photo along with many others that show the long walks around the pond.Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

There is nothing like a nice refreshing hike to enjoy the beauty of nature along a meandering pathway to lift one’s spirit, especially during trying times such as we are living in today.

The Fenwick Mines in Craig County has gotten lots of visitors this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping other activities closed.

Families are taking their children on enjoyable picnics and hiking the designated trails.

One mom stated that she may take them weekly, because “my kids went straight to bed and slept all night.”

Others enjoy taking their pets, exercising or just going for a nice leisurely stroll in the woods of Craig County.

Local resident David Givens shared that he and his trusty dog, Mason, have been on the trail a few times. “We usually take the waterfall trail for varying distances,” he said. “Mason loves any adventure.”

He also noted that the stairs were in good shape and gave a little direction of the different trails one could venture on.

Givens, who owns David’s Live Sounds, added, “I recently discovered that the shelter has an amazing natural reverb that gives my guitar a new voice. Since times are a little slow right now, I’ve even played for the animals at the Mines.”

Many other Craig County fans of the Mines agree that they have even sung on the trails, thinking no one is listening, or taken their instruments down as well when they had their picnics. “It’s such a relaxing and beautiful atmosphere,” many echoed.

Angela Paitsel recently used the Mines to do a little exercising and relieve some stress because “it’s a place to feel calm.” She posted many pictures on Facebook to encourage others to enjoy its many areas of beauty.

Mines has unique hiking trails, a nice covered picnic area and other picnic tables in other locations with a field for children to play ball in or to play catch with the dog, or to set up a volleyball.

There are two places to park. Parking area “A” gives one access to both the Wetland and the Nature Trails. There are also tables and grills there.

Parking “B” is for the larger covered group picnic shelter.

Fenwick used to be a bustling town with a population of over 300 people. It was built as many worked the iron mines which operated from there from 1875 until the mid-1920s.

It’s said that, “In its heyday, Fenwick was larger than New Castle. It boasted two churches, a school, a local newspaper and a theatrical playhouse.”

Today, the only remnants are a few plants and cement foundation remnants, along with the reddish hint in the water which is a reminder that there is still iron present in the rocks.

The Fenwick Mines have been a favorite place for picnics, family reunions or a casual hike for decades in Craig County.

The trails are somewhat short, less than a mile. The Fenwick Falls are always everyone’s favorite.

“The coming of the fall will bring a beauty of diverse colors that refreshes the mind with the beauty that only God could create,” one lady shared.

The Fenwick Mines is a part of the Eastern Divide Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

The Fenwick Mines Recreation area is located only six miles from New Castle, taking approximately 15 minutes to arrive there. People can follow Route 615 for five miles to VA 611 at Peaceful Valley Road and turn left. Go one half a mile then turn right onto VA 685. Follow the signs to the Mines, only a short distance away, and enjoy a day of nature.

Try not to miss out this year. “The pond is probably my favorite place there, but the falls are the most beautiful along the trail,” Paitsel shared. “I said the pond because of the memories of my children there.”

As Givens commented, “The Fenwick Falls are flowing healthy and happy.”