BUCKHANNON – Thanks to funds received through a ‘Try This West Virginia’ mini-grant and the help of volunteers, the Upshur County Trails group was able to add a new section of trails that will be ready for use in January 2022.
Upshur County Trails volunteer Rachel Garton Weber spoke with My Buckhannon about the grant, the volunteers and what was added to the nearly 7 miles of trails suitable for walking, hiking, mountain biking and running.
“We received another ‘Try This West Virginia’ mini-grant this year for $3,000,” Rachel Weber said. “The idea this time was to use the funds to rent a machine so we could build a new section of trails and add more native West Virginia wildflowers. The last part of the mini-grant will be used to update the maps.”
Rachel Weber said a disc golf course has been constructed at the Upshur County Recreational Park, and that will be added when the maps are updated as well.
Upshur County Trails volunteer John Weber said about a mile of distance was added to the trails system, thanks to the most recent ‘Try This West Virginia’ mini-grant, bringing the total distance up to nearly 8 miles.
“You can actually access this from the kiosk at the turn-off from Route 20,” John Weber said. “When open, you will actually be able to start and finish that mile there or you can integrate that mile into the previous loop.”
The additional mile of trail is to 4 to 6 feet wide throughout its entire duration, Weber added.
“It is machine-built and it will appeal to more of the beginner riders and hikers that are not that advanced,” John Weber said. “The vertical elevation is less when compared to our other sections of trails, so the cardiovascular endurance needed for this trail is less than the other trails.”
John Weber said the land this section of the trail is built upon is part of a City of Buckhannon lease the group has been granted access to.
“The City of Buckhannon has a 10-year lease on this land, and the land goes clear down to the river,” he said. “That will give you access to the Riverwalk, ultimately.”
John Weber said there is still a substantial portion of land that has not been built into trails; however, he said the plan is to continue to lengthen the trails.
“That will add, hopefully, about 20 miles of trail in the region – which is two days of riding,” he shared. “That would make this a destination area. People could plan to come to Buckhannon and stay overnight. You need to have about 15 to 20 miles of trails to begin attracting runners, hikers, bikers and walkers to come and stay with us and go on the trails we offer.”
During this last extension, Rachel Weber said volunteers used the heavy equipment to add the additional mile, and the project took nine days.
“We worked from Saturday through the following Sunday,” she said. “We had a total of 15 volunteers who put in 331.5 hours of labor.”
The Webers said the next step is to let the ground settle. The new section is located directly behind the West Virginia State Police building, and entry, when permitted, will be near the gravel parking area with the kiosk and picnic table, according to Rachel Weber.
“We do not want any traffic on this newly excavated region for the next two months,” John Weber said. “There is still some drainage work that needs to be completed in the form of adding culverts and small bridges over the waterways to protect the ecology of the waterways.”
In the future, as the group extends the trail system, more volunteers will be needed to complete that work.
“We had several new volunteers and we appreciate their support,” John Weber said. “We have a fabulous time at our Upshur County Trail Volunteer Days. To grow our volunteer base is something we are looking for, especially as we grow our trails to upwards of 20 miles. It will take many more volunteers to maintain those extra miles.”
Rachel Weber said they would welcome those utilizing the Upshur County Trails to walk with a litter bag and pick up any debris as they walk, run, mountain bike or hike.
“During the nine days, we had two volunteer heavy equipment operators, George Brown and Bruce Wohleber, who were are very grateful for,” John Weber said. “Scott Creak also needs to be thanked for his work. He laid out where the trail would travel on the hillside and where we would cross certain streams. Creak was able to do that in a way that helped because he said things like, ‘There is a great oak tree we want to go by’ or ‘This has a magnificent view we want to include.’ He helped lay out the trail in a way that made it very user friendly and enjoyable.”
The Webers said they will let folks know when it is okay to begin using the new one-mile section of trail and advised outdoors enthusiasts to check out the Upshur County Trails Facebook page for updates.
“We will continue to advertise our monthly trail workdays on our Facebook page and ask for volunteers,” Rachel Weber said. “Currently, we are selling T-shirts for sale from Joey’s Bike Shop in Elkins and they are $20. Anyone wanting a T-shirt can send a message with their size and we will get back to them and deliver them a shirt if we have that size. We appreciate everyone’s support of the Upshur County Trails!”