Mon River-Caperton-Deckers Creek Trails, West Virginia

From Monongahela River Trails Conservancy

This 48-mile rail-trail system links urban and rural communities in three counties and acts as a low-impact recreation corridor, alternative transportation route, community green space, outdoor classroom, and natural and cultural heritage park.

National Recreation Trail

Designated in 2006

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in the NRT Database

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The Mon River, Caperton, and Deckers Creek Rail-Trails form a tri-county, 48-mile linear park that links urban and rural communities in north central West Virginia. The primary trail manager, the Monongahela River Trails Conservancy, is one of the few volunteer non-profits nationwide to maintain such an extensive trail system, with the help of an innovative partnership between state, county, and city agencies and community volunteers.

The trail is a low-impact recreation corridor, alternative transportation route, community green space, outdoor classroom, and natural and cultural heritage park. The trail showcases past and present land use and management as it borders Prickett's Fort State Park, a historic frontier settlement, Arthurdale Heritage, the nation's first New Deal community, the Bretz Coke Ovens, a national coal heritage landmark, and Greer limestone, an active limestone quarry.

The trail passes through forests, meadows, rhododendron and hemlock thickets, farmland, and downtown shopping districts, as it parallels Deckers Creek and the Monongahela River, allowing people of all ages and abilities the pleasure of outdoor recreation including walking, cycling, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing.

The popular rail-trail is used by residents of Morgantown and surrounding communities, West Virginia University staff and students, a wide mix of tourists, the health networks of Mon General and WVU Hospitals, as well as many rural communities with otherwise little access to public parks and health facilities.

Prickett's Fort State Park along the Mon River Trail

Prickett's Fort State Park along the Mon River Trail

Mon River Trail

The Mon River Trail follows the Monongahela River which flows to the north. The trail surface is compacted, crushed limestone sand. This trail is on the 100-year floodplain and presents users with scenic river views, occasional waterfalls, unexpected meadows, and a variety of wildlife and wildflowers. It is 29 miles from the Pennsylvania Stateline in the north to Pricketts Fort in the south.

At the southern terminus is Prickett's Fort State Park, a site of a recreated frontier settlement, WV DNR boat launch, and the MCPARC Trail that continues on into Fairmont. The northern terminus extends to the State border and will eventually link with rail-trails in Pennsylvania. The Monongahela River was recently designated a West Virginia / Pennsylvania Water Trail and offers many fishing and boating opportunities.

Caperton Trail

The Caperton Trail is a six mile segment within the city limits of Morgantown and Star City. It connects many urban greenspaces including Edith Barill Park, the WVU Core Arboretum, Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, and the Mountaineer Heritage Park. With a paved surface and easy access to neighboring restaurants and shopping areas and by linking to neighborhoods and city parks, this is the most popular of the trails.

The city of Morgantown has benefited with over $200 million in private investment along the trail in a once abandoned warehouse and industrial district that has now been revitalized with an outdoor amphitheater, conference center, and other amenities.

Deckers Creek Bridge at the mouth of Deckers Creek; photo by Mary Shaw

Deckers Creek Bridge at the mouth of Deckers Creek; photo by Mary Shaw

Deckers Creek Trail

The Deckers Creek Trail begins at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park in Morgantown and follows Deckers Creek and the Route 7 Scenic Byway east for 19 miles into Preston County. The trail is surfaced with compacted, crushed limestone sand and offers cyclists and runners looking for a more challenging experience a steeper climb with a noticeable elevation change of 1,000 feet at a 2 percent grade over the 19 miles.

Highly experienced kayakers paddle Deckers Creek, which has some Class VI rapids and rock climbing is also popular in the region.

The trail currently ends in Reedsville, West Virginia; and less than a mile away on Route 92 is the Arthurdale Heritage District and Museum. The entire community of Arthurdale is on the National Register of Historic Places, recognized as the Nation's First New Deal Homestead Community.

Outside Morgantown city limits, the urban landscape slips away and the scene changes to forests of hardwoods, hemlocks, and rhododendrons, cascading views of Deckers Creek, and large rock outcrops.

Near the communities of Masontown and Bretz, the Deckers Creek Trail passes an abandoned row of coke ovens, remnants from a large coal-mining industry. The Bretz Coke Ovens are listed as a National Historic Landmark and are currently being considered for restoration and interpretation.

The Mon River, Caperton, and Deckers Creek trail system runs for 48 miles through the Morgantown area. The trail elevation starts at 830 feet and reaches as high as 1770 feet. The trail is generally very level and suitable for wheelchair access. Some sections are paved with asphalt but the primary surfacing material is crushed stone.

Bicycling, walking, running, and skating are all permitted uses on the trail. Fishing and boating access are also provided along the trail corridor. Winter activities include snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.

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