West Virginia Rail-Trail

Kristy and I are in Parkersburg West Virginia.  She has some family matters to attend to.  I spent most of the day on the bike.

I had heard about the rail-trail in the area.  It is scenic, has tunnels, and is quite flat.

The route I took to get to the trail was about 11 miles, and included a mix of city streets, divided highway, and country roads.  There were hills.

I was riding my little 7-speed folding bike, but I didn’t need to walk any of the hills.

My route is here:

Download file: 2010-08-05.gpx

Everything I said about the route is true. In addition,

  • It’s too flat.
  • It’s not paved.  This made it slow going.
  • It gets quite remote.  I wasn’t carrying enough water.
  • During the day on this Thursday, it was nearly empty.  I saw a couple walking their dogs, and no other cyclists.
  • I couldn’t stop for fear of being carried away by insects.
  • Cell phone service is very spotty.

I came across a sign for the town of  Walker, and hoped to find food and water.  There were no stores of any kind in town, but there was a post office.  I was able to get water there.

When I came near the town of Cairo, I went off-path, unto a dirt road that became a very pot-holed paved road.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I could have taken the trail and arrived in the same place.  No matter, traffic was light, and the hills were refreshing.

In Cairo, there are a number of small businesses that cater to those traveling along the trail.  I loaded up on food and drinks, and continued on.  I was then only 3 miles from my destination, North Bend State Park.

My wife met me at the park, and we drove back to Parkersburg.

Highlights of the trip:

  • Tunnels!  I rode through two tunnels.  The first one was the longest.  You couldn’t see the other side.  I was glad for having a headlight on the bike.  The first tunnel was very cool and damp like a cave.  There was cool air and a fine mist blowing out from the end I entered.
  • Interesting weather.  It started warm and humid, but not hot.  Skies were overcast, and winds were calm.  Further into the ride there was thunder in the distance and some rain.  Late in the ride, it warmed up and the sun came out.
  • At 40.2 miles, it was the longest ride on the new bike.  That bike is really for shorter trips.  I did have some minor comfort issues, but nothing that interfered with m enjoyment of the ride.
  • Riding along the shoulder of Highway 50 was interesting.  That highway is a divided four-lane, much like part of my commute route.  The difference is that Highway 50 is more “freeway-like”.  It has ramps and a 65 mph speed limit.  There were signs for it being a bike route.
  • In town, I got yelled at to get on the sidewalk.  It made me feel right at home.  🙂
  • Being a bit lost.  While off the trail, I was unsure of where I was for a while.  I don’t have a GPS on the bike, and cell coverage was unavailable at the time.  I did have a paper map, but it didn’t really have the level of detail I needed.  It was an adventure.

7 thoughts on “West Virginia Rail-Trail”

  1. After viewing the pics, I have 2 further observations:

    1. Like Michael, I love the mixed terrain with the folder. The double track quality is really inviting!

    2. the plant with the butterfly is ‘Joe Pye Weed’, or Eupatorium. It grows in moist soil and I have 2 batches of it. Love the stuff.

    3. ride looked even better with the pics. i’m so dying to get out for some adventure!

  2. Thanks all!

    Thanks for the info on the plant. I took the pictures of it, because Kristy was commenting on them when we saw them along the road on the drive there.

    After reading a bit more about them online (now that you provided a name), it seems like an awesome plant for a garden… if only I had the time for one. 🙂

    The folder was not the ideal bike for that ride. I was quite sore later in the day. It was worth the adventure though.

    I didn’t go to Michigan and back today as originally planned. That’s for the best. I needed the time to clean house and pack for tomorrow’s flight to DC.

  3. Great pictures, the tunnels would have been cool, don’t know if I would have ventured in without a headlight, glad you had one.

    The folder looks like a lot of fun.

  4. Mark,

    The tunnels were neat. The long one was actually a bit creepy. I rode halfway through, then shut off my lights. It was truly totally dark.

    My wife tells a story where she rode through one of them years ago with no lights, and had to guess the slight curvature of the path through the tunnel.

    I would have walked if I hadn’t had a headlight.

  5. Wow, that looks like a nice ride! Makes me want to visit WV! 😀

    Do you feel that the relatively-small wheel size impacts the folder’s ability to handle hills and so forth? I keep thinking about buying one for trips, but I’m afraid (because I’m a moron who likes to ride fast, LOL) that I won’t enjoy it as much as a regular bike.

    Then again, any bike while traveling is better than none!

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