A long pipeline of trail projects is coming to fruition, mile by mile.
An intensive trail-building exercise has been going on since Richard Edwards came to town in 2021. Brought here by WVU’s Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Edwards is working with his team to develop a robust system of trails on WVU property and to promote trail development in Morgantown and across the state. The 20-year, multinational expertise Edwards brings to the task is paying off in greater community capacity to build and maintain trails and a long pipeline of projects to come.
“In Morgantown, we’ve got a cadre of volunteers now who’ve developed strong skills,” says Edwards. “The community is very passionate and involved, and Morgantown Area Mountain Bike Alliance has been a huge help and very enthusiastic. We had over 1,000 volunteer hours last year between MAMBA, students, and community volunteers.”
The September 2022 opening at West Run Woods of a two-mile shared-use loop, a ¼-mile bicycle flow trail, and more was just the beginning of good things to come.
In the pipeline
To address an identified need for more trails for Little Bellas and other young cyclists, Edwards says, trail builders have created a half-mile trail at West Run Woods where new riders and learning adaptive riders can get comfortable and develop their skills. That loop trail is expected to open by May.
Nine more miles of trails that are ready to build on WVU properties this season include a shared-use, natural surface trail along the perimeter of the Core Arboretum; a couple more miles of shared-use and bike-specific single-track trails at West Run Woods, along with the installation of some bicycle skills features; and more youth-specific trails. Edwards hopes most of that will be ready to use by the end of this year.
The planning pipeline extends to 2024–25 and beyond. “We’ve got 100 miles in the vision, and we try to keep 15 to 20 miles in process: asking for money, getting approval, figuring out details. Then they’re shovel-ready.”
Beyond building trails on WVU property, part of his crew’s mandate is to provide technical assistance in Morgantown and statewide. Morgantown-area consulting projects include the coming BMX bike facility at Mylan Park and more.
Ambitious among statewide projects OEDC trails staff are consulting on is the proposed 27-mile Monday Lick Contemporary Trail System, part of a larger plan to build on the success of the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center by boosting mountain bike tourism in the surrounding Mon Forest Towns Region. Staff are also consulting on projects at Lost River State Park in Hardy County; Cacapon Resort State Park in Morgan County; Beckley, Fayetteville, and Oak Hill in the New River Gorge area; and other communities.
Love the trails? Volunteer!
The West Run Woods trails aren’t open for the season just yet—as natural-surface trails, they’re vulnerable to seasonal conditions. Edwards encourages users to check the WVU Trails website for closures and also to be conscious of trail conditions for themselves—if you’re leaving deep impressions, go back another time. Or, he says—building on the trails culture that says if you’re a trail user, you also regularly contribute volunteer time to trail maintenance—“if that’s the day you’ve got off work, go ahead and use the trail—then come on out and help do repairs. We want people to use the trails and enjoy them.”
To be part of the growing trail-building energy and expertise in Morgantown, visit iServe and search for “trail” to sign up for a scheduled session. If you’ve got a group of six or more that needs a different time, contact the coordinator.