100 Riders, 3 Days, 7 Trails (and Sheep!): RTC's 2015 West Virginia Sojourn

Posted 05/04/15 by Tom Sexton in Building Trails

RTC's 2015 West Virginia Rail-Trail Sojourn | Photo courtesy Cleo Fogal

On April 24, 2015, approximately 100 people came together for RTC’s 2015 West Virginia Rail-Trail Sojourn. This 122-mile, three-day bike ride through four counties and seven rail-trails promised beautiful landscapes, warm communities and lots of adventure—and we weren’t disappointed.

Centered in Morgantown (home to West Virginia University), the sojourn demonstrated how completing key gaps between the burgeoning Mon River Trails system and other rail-trails in West Virginia and Pennsylvania could result in 180 miles of trail that unite with another famous trail system, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), creating an unparalleled three-state network (Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia)!

Looking for a rail-trail experience of a lifetime? Join RTC this June 21-26 for our Pennsylvania Rail-Trail Sojourn on the Great Allegheny Passage and Montour Trail.

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Special thanks to our incredible partner, the Mon River Trails Conservancy, as well as to Wilderness Voyageurs for organizing a great ride! And thanks to all the awesome volunteers—including those from Country Road Cyclists. 

Here are just a few highlights...

Day 1: Back to the Beginning

It was chilly but sunny when we set off from our base at the Waterfront Hotel to our southward route on the Caperton Trail and Mon River Trail South.

Photo by Cleo Fogal

We pit-stopped for lunch at Prickett’s Fort State Park, where history came alive—literally.

Photo by Cleo Fogal

Prickett’s Fort (circa 1774) provided refuge from Native American war parties for early settlers living on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia.

Photo by Cleo Fogal

We connected to the Marion County Trail for a couple miles to reach Fairmont, before heading back to Morgantown. (Did you know that Fairmont is the home of the pepperoni roll? Thanks to the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Marion County and Friends of Marion County Trail for the tasty treat, which is not pictured!)

Photo by Cleo Fogal

Day 2: Getting to the Point

We were greeted with some sleet, but it didn’t dampen our spirits! Our ride began north on the Caperton Trail, which turned into the Mon River Trail North.

Photo by Cleo Fogal

Crossing the famous Mason-Dixon Line, we headed on to the planned Sheepskin Trail to Point Marion, and wow, what an appropriate name for the trail. There were lots of those!

Photo by Kasia Martin

We got to be part of a trailhead opening—complete with a “first flush” in the new restroom facilities—recognizing Point Marion as an official “Trail Town” along the Sheepskin Trail. (The Sheepskin will eventually connect to Uniontown and Dunbar, and then link with the GAP!)

Photo by Kasia Martin
Photo by Kasia Martin

And we had some great pie, too! (Thanks to the Point Marion Borough Council!) 

Photo by Kasia Martin

Before heading back to Morgantown, we went south to the Cheat Lake Trail. (It was really cool of the Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association and the staff of the Lake Lynn Power Station for opening the gates for us!)

Photo by Cleo Fogal

Day 3: Moving On Up

Everybody was smiling on sunny day 3, which took us southeast on the Caperton Trail and then right onto the Deckers Creek Trail toward Reedsville.

Photo by Kasia Martin

Almost everyone made it up the 1,000-foot-elevation climb to Masontown for lunch (always a great motivator)!

Photo by Kasia Martin

And there was no lack of treats during the sojourn, but we have to thank the Friends of the Cheat Trail Committee and the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission, who presented some great information on their project to extend the Deckers Creek Trail and build two other rail-trails…

Photo by Kasia Martin

...and offered perhaps the most unique edible treat of the trip in the form of these “water tower” cookies.

Photo by Kasia Martin

Trail networks can have an amazing impact on communities—supporting trailside businesses, encouraging healthy lifestyles and creating safe walking and biking routes for commuters and families. All told, the 2015 West Virginia Rail-Trail Sojourn's positive economic impact to the Morgantown area was $38,176. Combine that with the incredible experiences had by the participants, partners, volunteers and local communities—it’s safe to say it was a truly impactful ride.

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