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Barkcamp a Place for Exercising, Picnics, More

By CRAIG CAMPBELL

Staff Writer

BELMONT — As they were basking in the warm sunshine on an unusual winter day, Randy and Judy Britton, who live along the Morristown-Flushing Road, stopped from their daily 30-minute walk through Barkcamp State Park to talk about how this “hidden gem” in Belmont County enriched their lives.

Judy has been exercising here for almost two decades, and she talked Randy into joining her about three years ago.

They exercise for about 30 minutes every day in all kinds of weather and times of year, except in the extreme cold and heat.

The Brittons are retired and make their own schedule, and that’s why they were out in the late morning one weekday.

When they were raising their children they brought them in the summer months to swim in the lake, but they say that it doesn’t get the usage it once did because so many families have their own swimming pools.

Barkcamp has also been the setting for family picnics and reunions, and the Brittons hope more people will use the park in the future.

Judy said, “The park has miniature golf, lots of hiking trails and the lake for swimming and fishing.”

Randy added, “The natural setting with deer, rabbits and birds is wonderful, and the people here are friendly.”

Hunting also is allowed on Barkcamp lands during certain times of the year.

According to the park’s website (parks.ohiodnr.gov/ barkcamp), “Land acquisition began for the park in 1955, and a dam was completed in 1963 resulting in the 117-acre Belmont Lake. The park derives its unusual name from Barkcamp Creek, the former site of a logging camp where logs were stripped of their bark in preparation for delivery to the mill.”

Hiking, walking and running on Barkcamp’s trails and roads also has increased in popularity over the decades.

Every year in October, the Barkcamp Race (www.the barkcamprace.net) is held.

The ultra (40-mile) marathon, full (26.2-mile) marathon and half (13.1-mile) marathon trail races, as well as a 10K road race will be held on Oct 7 this year.

Cindy Foose and Rod Miller are the co-directors of the race, and have seen the event grow in popularity over the years.

There are links to a Facebook page, as well as contact information for Foose and Miller, on the race’s website.

Foose and Miller also organize a group run on Sunday mornings to help train for the annual race and many folks bring their dogs every week.

Foose said close to 20 enthusiasts are out braving the elements including snow, rain, cold and heat.

The primary benefactor of the proceeds from the race is Barkcamp, adding recent upgrades like fire rings and benches to the park.

The chief sponsor is the Belmont County Tourism Council and the race has brought runners from as far away as Florida to the annual event.

Foose feels Barkcamp is “a beautiful area that we have right here in our own backyard.”

She also hopes that people support the park by using and nurturing its facilities.

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