North Bend Rails to Trails attracts bikers, hikers to experience great outdoors
For hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders looking for a weekend getaway or a relaxing day trip, the North Bend Rails to Trails is the place to go. A scenic excursion through multiple state, county, and local parks, it’s a quiet ride (or walk) far away from the hustle and bustle of cities.
Part of the coast-to-coast, 5,500 mile American Discovery Trail, the North Bend Rails to Trails is a crushed limestone trail that passes over 36 bridges, through 15 small towns and 10 tunnels. Starting just outside of Parkersburg and ending 72 miles away just outside of Wolf Creek, the rail corridor was built between 1851 and 1857. Once a major supply line for Union troops during the Civil War, it was the site of extensive raiding and sabotage efforts by Confederate army.
Formerly owned by the B&O railroad company, it was sold to CSX, which decommissioned it in 1988. The tracks were removed and the section was purchased by the North Bend Rails to Trails Foundation, who turned the trail into what it is today.
Though it may have a rich history, the trail’s true draw is its natural beauty. The trees arch over the trail, making an endless green tunnel, and flowers and other plants flourish on both sides of the path. Near the tunnels, where the rock has been cut away, you travel by sandstone cliffs where the hand of man has tried to change the hand of nature. Ferns and moss grow by the tunnel mouths, giving the place an almost mystic feel. As you get further and further from the towns and more popular sections of trail, there’s no sound but the singing of birds and the crunch of gravel under you. It’s a moment of peace and rejuvenation in a hectic and crazy world.
If you’re thinking of giving the trail a try, keep these things in mind:
Dress appropriately – you won’t find yourself pushing your way through weeds and long grass, so shorts are better than jeans. Wear sunscreen and bug spray, and carry water. Though restaurants and other eateries welcome bikers, hikers and riders (regardless of the condition they arrive in), these only appear in towns, so bring snacks if you’ve got a hungry group. Remember to save some energy for the return trip to your vehicle. Children on bicycles under the age of 14 are required by West Virginia law to wear a helmet and motor vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
For more information and directions, check out: northbendrailtrail.net.