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)!
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
We pit-stopped for lunch at Prickett’s Fort State Park, where history came alive—literally.
Prickett’s Fort (circa 1774) provided refuge from Native American war parties for early settlers living on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia.
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!)
Day 2: Getting to the Point
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!
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!)
And we had some great pie, too! (Thanks to the Point Marion Borough Council!)
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!)
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.
Almost everyone made it up the 1,000-foot-elevation climb to Masontown for lunch (always a great motivator)!
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…
...and offered perhaps the most unique edible treat of the trip in the form of these “water tower” cookies.
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.