New Trails For Hikers, Bikers And Even Climbers Approved For New River Gorge National River

New trails are coming to New River Gorge National River in West Virginia that will appeal to hikers, mountain bikers, and even climbers.

"The public expressed a great deal of interest in developing additional trail opportunities for both hiking and bicycling within the park and developing additional segments of the Through Park Connector trail," said Superintendent Trish Kicklighter. "The NPS looks forward to working with the (Boy) Scouts and other volunteer organizations to begin constructing several of these trail segments this summer."

Under the approved plan, the National Park Service will develop trail segments of the Through Park Connector river left of the New River, from the area of the confluence of Piney Creek and the New River to a point close to the northern park boundary.

According to NPS documents, the individual trail segments proposed are not all contiguous. Here's a look at the planned trails:

* Piney Creek Trail. The NPS would construct the Piney Creek Trail, from the proposed McCreery 20 Trailhead, across the CSX Piney Creek Spur rail line, and along the side slope above Piney Creek, creek right, to where it would connect with the Piney Creek Trail segment being developed for public access on private property from the Raleigh County Memorial Airport and the YMCA Paul Cline 23 Memorial Youth Sports Complex (see Figure 2-1). Most of the proposed Piney Creek Trail within the park would be developed along existing abandoned logging roads, although some segments of it would be new construction on the side slope of the Piney Creek Gorge.

* McCreery Trailhead. The NPS would develop the McCreery Trailhead within the footprint of the disturbed area that is currently the public and administrative parking area around the McCreery Boathouse. This parking lot may be expanded to accommodate more vehicles, and a barrier would be developed to clearly delineate the boundary of the parking area. Amenities that may be provided at this trailhead include restroom facilities, a kiosk with interpretive and directional signage, trash cans and picnic tables.

A pedestrian crossing over State Route 41 to the lower gravel area that serves as the river put-in at McCreery would be more clearly marked, and the NPS and its partners would work with the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) to provide additional and/or improved signage warning motorists of the pedestrian crossing.

* McCreery Trail. The NPS would construct the McCreery Trail from the proposed McCreery Trailhead, across State Route 41 at the pedestrian crossing to the McCreery river put-in, from there to the abandoned CSX railroad bridge over Piney Creek, then following the abandoned CSX rail line from the bridge to the terminus of the abandoned rail line in Terry (see Figure 2-1). By using Terry Road (County Route 41/8) for a short distance, visitors would connect from the proposed McCreery Trail to the Garden Ground Stacked Loop Trail System.

* Camp Creek Trail. The NPS would construct the Camp Creek Trail from the Rend Trailhead along Thurmond Road and Dunloup Creek, up the Camp Creek drainage, along this segment of the Through Park Connector to the BSA Summit.

* Arbuckle Connector Trail Improvements. The NPS would improve the existing Arbuckle Connector Trail to a sustainable trail standard that would support bicycle use, which would mean developing some reroutes and additional switchbacks for the trail.

* Wolf Creek Trail. The NPS would construct the Wolf Creek Trail from Fayette Station Road just beyond the CSX railroad bridge over Fayette Station Road from the Fayette Station Visitor Area, up the Wolf Creek drainage to the existing Kaymoor Trail. All of this trail would be newly constructed, as there are no abandoned road traces of any sort that could be followed up the Wolf Creek drainage. A short, steep section of elevation gain along the lower portion of the trail very near the road would require the construction of a set of steps that would be wide enough to accommodate visitors carrying, or portaging, their bikes. Signs would warn visitors of the portage, particularly above the steps, and adequate stopping distance and space for dismounting of bicycles would be provided. Cycling on the stairway would be prohibited. Trail switchbacks on steep slopes may require cribbing or small retaining walls to prevent sloughing.

* Whitney Trail. The NPS would construct the Whitney Trail on an old mine bench from the Fayetteville Trail, uphill of the Wolf Creek Trailhead on Fayette Station Road, then crossing Fayette Station Road and continuing on a mine bench that was developed into a road. The trail would cross a giant culvert over Marr Branch and continue along the bench, almost to Pipers Branch. In this phase of development, before Pipers Branch and immediately before reaching an unnamed ephemeral stream, the Whitney Trail would begin to climb the hill on an old siding road, rather than remain on the mine bench. After crossing the ephemeral stream on a small footbridge, and returning to the mine bench level, the Whitney Trail would intersect with the proposed Pipers Branch Trail.

* Whitney Trailhead. The NPS would develop the Whitney Trailhead on the existing footprint of the current informal pull-off on the mine bench where the proposed Whitney Trail is located. This would allow for parking of about two vehicles, and would serve as a supplement to the existing Wolf Creek Trailhead. The NPS would modify the metal gate on the proposed Whitney Trail to allow easy entry of trail users (pedestrians and cyclists) but to limit vehicular access.

* Pipers Branch Trail. The NPS would construct the Pipers Branch Trail along an abandoned road trace from the Whitney Trail up the Pipers Branch drainage to a connection with a trail that would be developed on private property owned by the BSA. That trail would connect to a parking area with public access for parking and trail use along Route 16 north of Fayetteville. The NPS would work with the BSA and the WVDOH to provide signage to the trailhead.

Bridge Buttress Trail Extension

The NPS would work in partnership with NRAC, the Access Fund and the AAC to develop a trail that connects the new AAC/NRAC campground to the Bridge climbing area and the existing Bridge Buttress Trail. Trail development would include a connection between the campground property and the existing Burnwood Trail, as well as the primary segment of new trail construction on a connection down a break in the cliff line from the Burnwood Trail to the area between the North Bridge Wall and the First Strike Area which avoids a stand of rhododendron located along the slope. It would connect, on the downhill end, with the existing social trails at the cliff bases that are used to access the rock climbing. A short ladder or set of steps would need to be constructed in order to scale a small (approximately four-foot) section of rock cliff at the bottom of the descent to the cliff base. Trail development in this area includes addressing an existing network of social trails, either by formalizing and designating social trails or by eliminating social trails that are in inappropriate locations and/or are 13 causing resource damage.

Designated Uses of Proposed Trails

Bicycle use would be designated on the following trail segments:

* Piney Creek Trail

* McCreery Trail

* Camp Creek Trail

* Arbuckle Connector Trail

* Wolf Creek Trail

* Whitney Trail

* Pipers Branch Trail

The Bridge Buttress Trail Extension and associated trail network would be designated for pedestrian use only.

You can find additional details on these plans at this site.