It seems that new trails are being conceived, coordinated, built, and funded everywhere we look. The first ten miles of the first phase of the Elk River Trail here in West Virginia were opened at the beginning of July last year, just barely a year after the network was announced by Governor Jim Justice. The plan involved purchasing land required to build a 72-mile-long section of trail — which would also make it the second-longest rail trail on this side of the Mississippi River.
Governor Justice said at the time: “I’ve said for a long time that the natural beauty we have here in West Virginia is one of, if not our single greatest treasure and I’m tickled to death that we are on the move toward making this a reality. Adding a rail trail of this size, in this absolutely gorgeous part of our state, is going to give us a tourist attraction that’s one of the very best of its kind in the country and it’s going to bring in people from all over the world to discover just how wonderful it is in West Virginia.”
Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby believes “This exciting new project will give us one more tool in our toolbox as we work day in and day out to promote West Virginia to visitors. With four beautiful seasons and unmatched natural beauty, this extensive rail trail network will provide for additional recreational opportunities to explore Almost Heaven now and for years to come.”
The Elk River Trail will continue to be built this year, and for now we have not received an exact timeline on when it will be finished — in part because the coronavirus pandemic has made those plans uncertain.
Other states like New York have recently completed their own planned trails. The Empire State Trail goes from New York to Canada and Albany to buffalo, offering hundreds of miles of outdoors to explore even further north!