Along West Fork River from Shinnston to Fairmont in Harrison and Marion Counties, WV
In the busy I79-US19 corridor between Fairmont and Clarksburg West Virginia, this trail along the West Fork River provides both moderate isolation and easy access. The portion in Marion County is now named the Ralph S. LaRue Trail in honor of the McParc director who led its development.
The river keeps US19 at a distance, and the interstate is over in the next valley. South of Fairmont, US19 runs through a series of small towns, seen across the river, and occasionally the towns that spill across the river. The trail offers great river views, and the Worthington Park provides recreation and river access.
This trail is a section of the IHTC Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Corridor<< more words here about IHTC Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Corridor.>> ...Connects the Youghiogheny River Trail in Pennsylvania with Morgantown, Clarksburg, and Parkersburg WV. This system will incorporate the existing McTrail, Harrison County, and North Bend trails plus the Caperton Trail now under development and connections between these.
West Fork River Trail
Location Fairmont and Grant Township, Harrison County
and Northern Township, Marion County
Trailheads Shinnston, Worthington, Monongah, Norway, Fairmont
Length, Surface 16 miles total, 3.75 packed crushed stone, 9.25 miles asphalt,
3miles not yet developed,
Character Uncrowded, rural, sunny and shady, level
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles; horses stay beside the trail, off finished surface
Amenities Rest rooms, water, bike rental, food
Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hours 50 minutes south
The first 3.75 mile of trail is surfaced with packed crushed stone. Some of which has been reclaimed by the encroaching grass and gone over to single track of crushed limestone. At the Marion County Line (MP3.75) the trail surface changes to asphalt. The overall gradient is as gentle as expected from a rail-trail, but local dips provide gentle undulations that will require shifting gears.
Don’t confuse this trail with West Virginia the other West Fork (but not River) trail, which runs the West Fork of Glady Fork and Greenbrier River from Glady to Durbin. That other trail is much wilder and less developed.
This trail leaves Shinnston in an industrial area, crosses under the US19 bridge, and soon comes out on a bench blasted into the hillside, squeezed between a sheer rock face on the east and the river on the west. After three miles the cliff ends and the trail alternates between woods and the streets of small towns: Enterprise, Hutchinson, Worthington, Everson, and Monongah.
Between MP3 and MP7 the historical Society has erected a number of signs noting the locations, towns, buildings and mines that no longer exist. Across the river from the Worthington Park (MP5.5) there is an old mill race that powered a mill. Just past Worthigton,
Just past milepost 13, the trail crosses the West Fork River on a 510-ft curved trestle. After the end of the trestle the trail is rougher but still manageable for 0.3 miles. It dead-ends at a chain-link fence. Here the trail jogs left onto a gravel road that soon gets steep. After 0.1 mile it emerges on Edgeway Dr. A left on Edgeway goes 0.3 mile to Country Club Rd and a shopping center.
Extensions of the ride
The next segment to the north along the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Trail is McTrail. (see page SW-106)There is supposed to be a 3.6-mile marked road route connecting the Fairmont end of this trail with the south end of the McTrail trail that leads north to Pricketts Fort State Park. However, we can’t find all the markings, and the markings we can find put us on a route with hills and traffic.
The next segment to the south along the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Trail is the Northern Harrison County Bike and Hike trail which is about 7 to 8 miles down river. No road route has been signed.
Marion County Parks & Recreation is continuing to develop trail along the corridor of the Monongahela Railroad corridor. << Find development plans >>
Vicinity: Directions begin headed south on I79 to Fairmont WV. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, go south on I79 into West Virginia.
Shinnston (Sue Ann Miller) trailhead: Leave I79 at Exit 125 westbound. Go about a quarter-mile and turn left on Saltwell Rd (WV131). Follow Saltwell Rd about 7 miles to US19 in Shinnston. Turn left and follow US19 about 6 blocks. As US19 bends there is a sign for the trail on an old railroad bridge. The entrance to the trailhead is about 900 feet further, just before US takes another bend and heads uphill.
Hutchinson Trailhead: Leave I79
Worthington trailhead: Leave I79
Everson trailhead: Leave I79
Monongah trailhead: Leave I79 at Exit 137 headed north on WV310. Follow WV310 for 1.8 miles. Just after crossing the Monongahela River, turn south (left) on US250. Follow US250 for 1 mile and turn right on Country Club Rd. Follow Country Club Rd for 1.0 mile and turn south (left) on US19 at the Country Club Motel. Follow US19 for 3.4 miles and turn left just before Monongah Middle School. This isn’t well marked, but US19 makes a sharp right just past this turn. Go down the hill for 0.1 mile and turn left at the stop sign. Cross the West Fork River 0.2 miles later. Parking is on the left of the road just past the trail.
Norway trailhead: Leave I79 at Exit 137 headed north on WV310. Follow WV310 for 1.8 miles. Just after crossing the Monongahela River, turn south (left) on US250. Follow US250 for 1.1 mile and turn right just after crossing the West Fork River, following signs to Mary Lou Retton Park. Park there, and ride down steep hill on the road for 0.8 miles. Small signs for “Rail Trail Link” give occasional hints. There is no parking at the trailhead.
Fairmont (north) trailhead: Leave I79 at Exit 137 headed north on WV310. Follow WV310 for 1.8 miles. Just after crossing the Monongahela River, turn south (left) on US250. Follow US250 for 1 mile and turn right on Country Club Rd. Follow Country Club Rd for 0.9 miles to the shopping center for Shop-and-Save, Big Lots, and 84 Lumber on the left side of the road. Find inoffensive parking. Leave the shopping center on Edgeway Dr, which is at the far end of the parking lot behind the Big Lots and Rent-A-Center. Follow Edgeway Dr for 0.3 mile, looking for a gate on the right. Go around the gate and down a steep gravel path for 0.1 mile. At the bottom of the hill, jog left to pick up the trail where it dead-ends at a chain link fence.
Rest rooms, water: At Mary Lou Retton Park, Monongah Park, and Worthington Park, in season
Bike shop, rentals: Along trail in Monongah and in Fairmont
Restaurant, groceries: Along trail at Monongah, in Fairmont and Shinnston
Camping, simple lodging: Motels in Fairmont
Swimming, fishing: Fishing access and beach at Worthington Park
Winter sports: Cross-country skiing.
Wheelchair access: Wide gates, but trail surface does not extend through gates. Trail has dips and rises.
Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission
PO Box 1258
Fairmont WV 26555
1000 Cole St, Suite B
Pleasant Valley, WV 26554
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Shinnston, Fairmont West.
Text version of 11 Nov 2019 based on personal observation while bicycling Shinnston (MP0) to MP8 11/2019, MP8 to Monongah (MP10.5) 10/2019 .Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 10/2019.