By WHITNEY BURDETTE ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone wants to do a little fishin', North Bend State Park is the place to go.
The park, located in Ritchie County between Cairo and Harrisville, features a stocked pond, a 305-acre lake, miles of streams and part of the North Fork of the Hughes River.
Oh, and there also are 77 campsites, nine vacation cabins and a 29-room lodge where fishermen and others can stay throughout the year.
Park Superintendent Steve Jones said he loves driving by the pond, stocked with small catfish, and watching youngsters cast their lines.
"It's awesome to see some little kid out there with a Snoopy fishing pole catching a fish that big and they just light up," Jones said. "That's awesome. And that's why it's stocked — to keep people interested."
But the park has more to offer. In addition to fishing and camping, the public also has access to a pool, picnic shelters, canoes and kayaks, hiking trails, miniature golf and wireless Internet. The park totals nearly 2,500 acres.
In addition to fish, the park also boasts other forms of wildlife, including deer and a few bear.
"We have all kinds of wildlife," said Jesse Ulderich, superintendent of North Bend Rail Trail State Park, "not just here, but on the trail also."
North Bend State Park serves as an access point to the North Bend Rail Trail, a 72-mile stretch of former railroad that the public can access for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Park visitors can take advantage of the pool, which is located on a hilltop and offers huge rocks for sunbathing. The pool is operational between Memorial Day and Labor Day and also is available for after-hours rentals.
Also available for families is the nature center, which offers recreational programs on the park's natural and cultural history. A schedule of weekly activities is available on the park's website, www.northbendsp.com.
For those who want to take advantage of the lake but may have left their fishing poles at home, the park offers canoe, kayak and johnboat rentals. Fishing poles also are available for rent, as well as dry bags. The park provides flotation devices, paddles and boat instruction.
Jones said the park is packed on the weekends with campers taking advantage of the large campgrounds. With only half of campsites available for reservation, he encouraged people who may decide at the last minute to camp at the park to call ahead first.
"If you're planning on coming in today, instead of driving all the way out here and finding a site is not available, call us," Jones said. "We take payment via telephone. We'll put a tag up so that way, when you get here, you know you'll have a site."
Of the campsites, 28 have electric hookups, a bath house is available for guests and water spigots are placed throughout the campground.
For those who don't want to sleep on the ground, cabins are available. Two of the park's cabins have three bedrooms while six cabins are two-bedroom. To become ADA-compliant, the park added a ninth four-bedroom cabin with access ramp. All cabins feature a fully equipped kitchen as well as linens.
For information on the park, visit the website or call 304-643-2931.