The gem of Friends of the Cheat’s rail-trail projects is the Cheat River rail-trail, an approximate eight-mile corridor paralleling the Cheat River from Manheim to Morgan Run. The corridor is nearly flat with outstanding natural scenery and access to the Cheat River Narrows. This greenway is a top priority among FOC’s recreation projects and has been slowly progressing for over a decade. The cooperation and commitment of Greer Industries is integral to the advancement of this project. In 2012, the West Virginia State Rail Authority agreed to own the property with FOC serving as the Trail Manager. The purchase of the property from CSXT is pending.
When completed, the non-motorized rail-trail will offer unparalleled access to the unique and beautiful Cheat River and link to FOC’s Preston Site project which includes plans for a trail-head and long term dream of a Cheat River Interpretive Center to house the offices of FOC.
Running from Kingwood to Tunnelton, the former West Virginia/Kingwood Northern rail-trail is a 10-mile scenic greenway. Purchase of the property and trail development will enhance the Preston County community and advance the revitalization of blighted maintenance facilities. The non-motorized rail-trail will provide a safe corridor for exercise and short distance travel promoting health and wellness and walkable communities and creating economic opportunity though recreation related business. The line features a rare switch-back and was once operated as a scenic railroad. Funding for the purchase of the property is pending.
Painting of the WV Northern shops area by Kingwood native, Marcy Miller Matherne who has graciously donated this print for reproduction to be sold as a fundraiser for the Kingwood-Tunnelton rail-trail project.
FOC’s Water Trail Committee is working to designate and develop sections of the Cheat River and its tributaries as official Water Trails. Simply put, a Water Trail is a trail for boats. The group’s first focus is the Upper Cheat River Water Trail, stretching from the Black Fork in Hendricks about 40 miles downstream to Rowlesburg. This section of the Cheat boasts an active fishery and meanders through picturesque hills including areas of the Monongahela National Forest. You do not need to be a paddling expert to enjoy this section of the Cheat River. The Upper Cheat River Water Trail is family friendly (Class I-II) and offers great opportunities for fishing, swimming, and paddling.
In September, the draft designation for Upper Cheat River Water Trail was approved by WV Recreational Trails Advisory Board. The Committee is working to revise and update this document and is compiling information to include in the first edition of the trail guide. This spring, the Committee will work to improve existing and develop new public access points. Future enhancements include interpretive panels on the region’s history, flora and fauna, and native wildlife, geocaches, downloadable “river tour” podcasts, and special events.
The Upper Cheat River Water Trail project has been supported by the Preston County Commission and received $5,000 in startup funding from the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A relaxing afternoon fishing near Seven Islands on the soon-to-be-designated Upper Cheat River Water Trail.
Friends of the Cheat and a citizen planning committee are hard at work to identify river accesses and points of interest. If you are interested in being a part of this process, or would like to make part of your property available for Water Trail Access, please contact us! For more information, please visit the Committee’s website, which is currently under development.