Over the past 5 years I have been on various parts of the North Bend Rail-Trail, but never the entire trail. I have never been too impressed with the trail in regards to surface and overall appearance and maintenance. This has always bothered me because of it's State Park status.
In addition to this I have had more the one person either express the same point of view or ask "Is that trail still in the same condition?" I heard the latter so many times that on August the 8th, 2003 I started my trip see the entire trail to find out for myself. It was quite and interesting trip - to say the least.
To make things more interesting the The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Fall 2003 issue featured the NBRT in their "Destinations" section. The entire article had not one critiacal statement in it concerning the condition of the trail. Wondering how this could be I called the RTC and spoke to the author. As it turns out she did not ride or walk any of the trail and most of the information she got was second hand.
The article, along with a glowing report of the trail also includes a very nice map. Unfortunatley the trail heads for Happy Valley, Cairo, Pennsboro and Salem were left off the map. There is a trail head marker on the map for North Bend State Park. The problem with this is the park has no trailside parking area, it is about a mile from the Rail-Trail proper.
I make no apologies for the critical tone of the commentary on the web site. I did not plan it to be pleasure trip, but a look at the trail from the persepctive of overall condition.
Having said that the trail has a lot going for it: Varied and nice scenery, the tunnels, all the interesting communities along way, great natural history and, no doubt, much more. Even with all these positives I still feel the current condition of the trail is an embarrasment to the WV State Park System.
If properly funded and maintained, this Rail-Trail, because of it length and the positives mentioned above could be the Jewel in the Crown of the West Virgina Rail-Trail System.
My final thought after riding the 70 some miles?
The trail needs a complete make over from end to end to be the top notch trail is should be, especially considering it is in the State Park System.
Created on ... October 28, 2003