Mon_River

Mon River and Gasper Caperton Trails

Along east bank of Monongahela River from PA state line to Prickett’s Fort State Park, WV

The Mon River Trail runs for 30 miles south from the PA/WV state line along the east bank of the Monongahela River. The trail can be divided into three sections based on changes in trail surface. Starting at the PA/WV line the Mon River Trail goes south for 5.9 miles on crushed limestone. Just north of Star City the surface becomes asphalt for 5.6 miles through Morgantown; this section is named for Gov. Gasper Caperton. At the southern edge of Morgantown the surface reverts to limestone, the name reverts to Mon River Trail and the trail continues another 17.3 miles to Prickett’s State park. The trail runs on a bench with a cliff on one side and the river on the other.

Mon River Trail and Gasper Caperton Trails

Location Port Marion to Prickett’s Fort State Park in Monongalia and Marion Counties WV

Trailheads Star City, Morgantown, Uffington, Fort Prickett’s State Park

Length, Surface 0.7 in planing, 5.6 asphalt, 23.5 miles crushed limestone

Character Uncrowded, urban riverfront, sunny, flat

Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles

Amenities Bike shop, food, lodging

Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour 20 minutes south

From Port Marion, PA the Sheepskin Trail (page SW-58) is 0.9 miles of crushed limestone to the state line where the Mon River Trail begins. At the state line (MP0) the Mon River Trail begins continuing with an older crushed limestone surface. The scenery is largely wooded, varied by a couple of small summer camps/villages between the trail and the river, and by large industrial plants across the river – a power plant at MP1 and coal loading plants at MP3 and MP5. Between MP5 and MP6 the hillside becomes more cliff like and there are a couple of impressive waterfalls. Just before MP5.95 the trail becomes paved. At the Star City trailhead, MP6.5, there is an elaborate play area near the rest rooms. Just past Star City one passes by the obligatory sewer plant. Between MP7.2 and MP8.1 is the West Virginia University Arboretum. Several hiking trails (no bikes allowed) and one service road (very steep bikeable gravel) lead up into the Arboretum.

Past the Arboretum (MP8.5) are the outskirts of Morgantown and parts of West Virginia University with its monorail system. The trail runs along the edge of downtown Morgantown. The bus station and Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park are at MP13.8. Here, just before an impressive railroad bridge, Deckers Creek Trail (page SW-<<decker cross ref>>) splits off to the left. On the other side of the bridge several restaurants are right along the trail. Shortly thereafter downtown buildings turn into industrial buildings with the Morgantown Lock and Dam at MP10.6. At MP11.5 development disappears at the Greer Mine Silo and Conveyer. The trail turns from asphalt to limestone and becomes gloriously isolated on a bench at the base of a bluff as it heads for Prickett’s Fort.

The isolation is interrupted at MP13.5 for Twin Spruce Marina at Uffington, WV. At MP16.7 is Hildebrad Lock and Dam with a slight rise in the trail. A few houses and summer camp are at MP18.5 at Little Falls. MP<<24.2>>Opekiska, <<26.3>>Jordan, <<27.9>Catawba

Note: Morgantown requires all bicycle riders to wear helmets. They enforce this rule with tickets.

Local history, attractions

Morgantown is the home of West Virginia University which has the first Personal Rapid Transit system in the country. Basically it is a horizontal elevator used to transport students, faculty and staff around the campus. It currently has 71 cars traveling over 8.7 miles of guide way, moving 14,000 passengers a day. The trail passes alongside the system for about a half mile and near one of the stations on the system.

Prickett’s Fort (prickettsfort.org/) is a rustic log fort that is a re-creation of the original Prickett’s Fort of 1774, which served as a refuge from Native American war parties on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia. The fort serves as a living history site where interpreters recreate late 18th century lifestyle through period attire and demonstrations of a variety of colonial crafts. Throughout the season, one may find blacksmiths, spinners, weavers and other traditional artisans at work, and a gun shop which features demonstrations of 18th century firearm manufacturing.

Extensions of the ride

The next section to the north of the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Route is seamless connection with the Sheepskin Trail (page SW-<<xx>>. It happens at the state line about 2500 feet south of the Lock and Dam. From there to Point Marion is about 0.9 miles on crushed limestone surface.

The next section to the south of the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Route is seamless connection with the MCTrail Trail (page <<mctrail cross ref>>) at Prickett’s Fort MP29.

At MP13.8 at the north end of McQuain Park and before the trail crosses Deckers Creek, the Deckers Creek trail (page SW-<<Deckers>>) begins its 19 mile 1000 feet climb.

Development plans

There is hope of continuing past Port Marion, along the Cheat River to the Cheat River Dam where it will connect to the existing Cheat Lake trail (page <<cheat Lake cross ref>>). However, this section is in Pennsylvania and the Mon River Conservancy, the trail developer is primarily interested in West Virginia trails.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin headed south on I79 at the West Virginia rest area near the PA/WV state line. To get here from Pittsburgh, take I79 south.

Van Voorhis Trailhead: << MP4.0>>

Star City trailhead: From the West Virginia rest area, follow I-79 south for about 3.3 miles. Take Exit 155 for Star City and West Virginia University. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left/northeast and follow signs for 2 miles to Star City. Immediately after crossing the Monongahela River, turn left/northeast at the traffic light. The first two lefts will take you to the parking area, although you are likely to miss the first one. The second on is University Ave and there is sign pointing to the either Edith R Barill Riverfront Park or JF Kennedy Memorial Park. Parking is along the street. Additional parking is available down at river level. Head toward the bridge, cross the trail and take a U-turn to pass in front of 84 Lumber. Proceed down the hill.

Morgantown trailhead: From the West Virginia rest area, follow I-79 south for about 6.0 miles. Take Exit 152 for Westover and Morgantown. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left/east, follow US19 North (yes North). Follow US19 North for a little over 2 miles through Westover. After crossing the Monongahela River, turn right on US119 south and immediately turn right again in an unmarked alley. At the bottom of a short hill to the left of the bus depot is trailhead parking for Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park.

Uffington trailhead: From the West Virginia rest area, follow I-79 south for about 9.3 miles. Take Exit 148 and merge onto I68 towards Cumberland. Take the first exit (Exit 1) for US119. At the bottom of the ramp turn left/north towards downtown. Follow US119 for 1.7 miles and turn left/south (almost a U-turn) onto SR73. Follow SR73 for 1.6 miles and turn right/north west at the sign for Twin Spruce Marina, just after passing the Uffington Public Access Parking and crossing the creek. Go 0.1 miles and park by the trail not blocking access to the marina.

Prickett’s Fort State Park Trailhead: From the West Virginia rest area, follow I-79 south for about 21.4 miles. Take Exit 139 toward E Fairmont. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right/north, and follow signs to the park. The park is about 2.7 miles from the exit. Once in the park, follow the signs to the park office. Park at the far end of the parking lot, and head toward the river. When we were last there (spring 2008) there was an informal trail between the developed park area and the trail.

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: Rest rooms at the play area near the Star City Trailhead, at Ruby Hazle McQuain Riverfront park at the Morgantown trailhead and at Prickett’s Fort State Park.

Bike shop, rentals: On the trail - Wamsley Cycles, 709 Beechurst Ave, Morgantown wamsleycycles.com, Three blocks from the trail

Restaurant, groceries: In Star City and Morgantown. Also at I79 exit 152.

Camping, simple lodging: Near the trailhead in Star City and Morgantown.

Swimming, fishing: [[[find]]]

Winter sports: [[[find]]]

Wheelchair access: Good.

Trail organization

The Mon River Trails Conservancy was founded in 1991 to acquire, develop and manage the Deckers Creek and Gasper Caperton trails.

Mon River Trail Conservancy

PO Box 282

Morgantown, WV 26507-0282

montrails.org

Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: Morgantown North, Morgantown South, Riversville

Map Published by Mon River Trail Conservancy called Rail Trails of North Central WV

Version

Text version of 04 Aug 2017 based on personal observation while bicycling State line to Star City 9/2018, Star City to 18.5 in Aug 2017, and miles 17 to 30 in 2008. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 12/2008.