By Shirley Shuman
Walk, run, bike, ride: The opportunity for these activities is available on a new rail trail being completed in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties. A length of the former railroad right of way running parallel to Elk River from Gassaway to Clendenin is being turned into a trail for safe walking, running, bicycling, and horseback riding. The trail, when complete, will extend to Clendenin.
Those who have used the trail are pleased with the trail itself along with the scenic view with the trees and other growth on one side and Elk River on the other. Now that spring is here with the trees starting to leaf and wildflowers emerging, the view is already beautiful. One regular walker pointed out that she has noticed some old-fashioned violets and trillium already and looks forward to more.
This individual pointed out several aspects of the trail that she has noticed. For example, she said that the trail south of Frametown has a smooth surface and added, “You could push a stroller or even a wheelchair on it.” On the other hand, the trail from Frametown north to Gassaway has a much rougher surface “like shale,” this individual said. However, Clark Mollohan, the sub-contractor on the project, explained that this section will have the same surface as that running south. “The finished trail is covered with limestone sand,” he said, “and the rest of the trail will have the same.”
Mollohan, whose company, Grandsons’ Building and Grading, is doing most of the work on this section of the trail, noted “the state has taken over only the section from Duck to Hartland.” Eventually, the state, under the auspices of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will take over the trail as the Elk River Trail State Park.
A positive amenity of the project is a restroom a short distance down the trail from Frametown. Mollohan said that other restrooms are planned, one between Frametown and Gassaway and others just below Strange Creek and still another before individuals using the trail reach Ivydale. The completed one, walkers noted, is “clean and well kept.”
Bikers have found the available parts of the trail south of Frametown more than satisfactory for their sport. Some horseback riders have also used the trail, and, although apparently no one has done it so far, horse drawn carriages are allowed. Those who want to take a carriage on the trial, however, must obtain permission.
This rail trail has come about through the partnership of the Elk River Railroad, Inc. (TERRI) and the State of West Virginia, and it all began in early 2019. The project has been developed in phases. One phase of interest to local citizens might be the new trailhead in the town of Gassaway, It and the rest of the Duck to Gassaway section are expected to be completed sometime in early May.
Those who have tried the rail trail recommend walkers (even “strollers”), bikers, and horseback riders to join them. The trail is, they say, perfect for all ages and all fitness levels and can be a relaxing venue for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for those who just want to get out and enjoy nature.