Take Steps to Prepare
This GeoCache is located in one of the most scenic parks in West Virginia. As of October 2022, it is the only Traditional GeoCache in Babcock State Park. Two other geocaches, Old Stone Building (a microcache) near the park entrance, and Glade Creek Water Fall (an earthcache) located near the camp registration office, are both excellent caches and worth checking off your find list while you are at the park.
Our Traditional Geocache, Take Steps to Prepare, was inspired by the nearly fatal error that PenCross and I made by heading into the park for a "short walk" with no hiking or safety gear. While attempting to find our way out of the forest, we saw some amazing sites including warm bear scat. It was nearly dark when we found a paved road. And so, we learned the dangers of heading into the forest without basic safety, survival, first aid, communication and navigation tools.
Our cache is themed "Prepare". Unlike most traditional caches, we're not advocating leaving trinkets. The items we stocked in the cache are all things you might need on your hike. Please plan to bring an item that you think would be useful in a hiking pack to trade.
Hiking Approach A (the scenic route):
[A1] In good weather, we recommend starting your hike at Glade Creek Water Mill (near Parking area #1 and Earthcache #1). Then proceed on foot down Old Sewell Road passing the famous "Cabin 13" and into the forest. Continue down the old roadbed to Narrow Gauge Trail. Then cross Manns Creek on the Swinging Bridge and continue to our favorite Rocky Trail.
[A2] This route will take you to the bottom of Rocky Trail. Rocky Trail is a steep stairway of flat stones and steps constructed in 1937. This is very scenic but it is strenuous and can be dangerous due to the numerous springs that can make the rocks and steps wet and slippery. If you choose this route, use extreme CAUTION while climbing the slope to Skyline Trail.
[A3] When you reach the top of Rocky Trail you will be at Skyline Trail. From there turn west and follow your navigation system to the geocache.
[A4] Once you have logged the find, you can continue west along the trail to Manns Creek picnic and parking area (Parking Lot #2). This parking lot is just behind the northern cabins 14 and 15.
[A5] If you still have the time and energy, it is worth taking in the sites by returning east from the cache toward Rocky Trail again and continuing along Skyline Trail. You can actually return to your starting point by hiking eastward on Skyline Trail, across the second swinging bridge near Cabin 6, and then down the road to the Registration Building and gift shop at Glade Creek Mill where you parked.
Hiking Approach B (the short route):
[B1] If the weather is slightly foul or you are short on time or energy, you can take in the sites by beginning your quest at Manns Creek picnic and parking area (Parking area #2), on the loop near Cabin 14. From the parking area, climb the stairway to the picnic area and then down a short slope at the edge of the picnic shelter to Skyline Trail.
[B2] Proceed eastward using your navigation system to the cache.
[B3] Once you have logged the find, you might consider continuing eastward at least to the Rocky Trail Intersection. This section of Skyline Trail is fairly flat with a few rooty and rocky sections, but not hazardous. On the day we placed the cache, it was drizzling and snowing. We had no problem exploring the western section of Skyline Trail and even down part of Rocky Trail to take photographs. Having said that, a hiker had slipped and broken his ankle on the trail that morning and had to be carried out by first responder, so it's not a "walk in the park".