Clear Fork Rail Trail Phase 1 ready to open

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Raleigh County has a new trail that follows the old CSX Rail Line along the Clear Fork River.

Parks & Recreation Authority Executive Director Molly Williams says the Clear Fork Rail Trail is not like anything we have in the county.

“First phase of the project is the first five miles of the trail. The trail will be a total of 14 plus miles,” Williams said. “And so phase two is still in, in the works, and we’re still in the funding processes of that phase of it.”

It’s not a strenuous grade trail; pretty flat with a bit of an incline. On the non-motorized trail you can walk, bike, and horseback-ride. Williams says she loves the Clear Fork Rail Trail because it’s remote with different scenery throughout, including trail sections along a cliff face.

“You can see the different striations of the geography there. You can see the creek, you can see lush forest. All along the trail, the views change as you go about it,” said the Parks & Rec executive director. “They’re beautiful trestles that were built by Aspen, which is the construction company. And so it’s just a beautiful trail. It’s serene, it’s quiet, it’s not like anything that we have in Raleigh County.”

This was a collaborative multi-agency endeavor to make Clear Fork Rail Trail happen, from Raleigh County Parks & Rec Authority to Raleigh County Commission, engineering groups, the DEP and Region One.

“Anywhere from National Coal Heritage Area to the New River Gorge Development Authority, to all the companies hired to work on it, like Aspen and Chapman,” Williams said. “A lot of people put a lot of effort and time into this project. So we’re really excited to open it up.”

She said a rail trail can offer many benefits to its local community, starting with the economic impact, with more tourists and locals using it.

“There’ll be opportunities for businesses to open up, such as restaurants, ice cream shops, bike rentals, and transport companies,” said Williams. “There’s all kinds of different options that can pop up around a rail trail.”

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