What Is a Rail-Trail?
Rail-trails are multi-use public trails created from former railroad corridors. They are most often flat or follow a gentle grade as they traverse urban, suburban and rural communities in America. Ideal for many uses, such as walking, bicycling, inline skating, cross-country skiing, and equestrian and wheelchair use, rail-trails are extremely popular for both transportation and outdoor recreation.
What Is a Rail-with-Trail?
A Rail-with-Trail is a public pathway that runs parallel to an active rail line. As of 2015, there are more than 240 rails-with-trails in the United States. In West Virginia, there is only have one example of a Rail-with-Trail and that is the Harpers Ferry Railroad Bridge between Harpers Ferry and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Towpath.
What is a Logging Rail-Trail?
Logging Rail-Trails are also rail-trails though they were once on former logging railroads (aka timber lines, forest railways, or logging railways) that had narrow gauges and were more temporary in nature. They are often steep and narrow trails that are now suited mostly for hiking and mountain biking. In West Virginia, these rail-trails are almost entirely in the Monongahela National Forest with a few in the New River Gorge National River Area. Hiking is always allowed on these trails, and sometimes they are also open for mountain biking and/or horseback riding.
View the 2016 WV Division of Tourism Map & Brochure for more information.
In 1998, WVRTC drafted some rating standards for rail-trails, realizing that some were not as developed as others. You can consider this list of trails as you plan your trip.