Caldwell, WV – The Greenbrier River Trail Association, partnering with the West Virginia Land Trust, has purchased more than 5 acres near the Greenbrier River in order to improve public access to a rail trail managed by the West Virginia state park system.
“It has been very rewarding to assist a strong local organization in the Greenbrier Valley who wants to improve public access to this iconic trail,” said Ashton Berdine, lands program manager for the West Virginia Land Trust.
Since 1982, the Greenbrier River Trail Association has worked to promote and improve the 78-mile trail that follows the Greenbrier River for most of its course from Caldwell to Cass. According to the group, the trail’s growing popularity has created a need to expand parking and improve safety at the southern trailhead, near Caldwell, which is one of the most popular access points.
“There currently isn’t enough parking available at the Caldwell trailhead. Only about twenty cars can park there, compared to a much larger capacity at Cass, Renick, and Marlinton” said Leslee McCarty, board chair for Greenbrier River Trail Association. “Local shuttle services use the lot, also, and a bigger facility, perhaps with restrooms, will add to the visitor experience.” Merrick Tracy, owner of Hill and Holler Bicycles in Lewisburg added, “We are very excited about an expanded trail head, which will make it safer and more convenient for local users and the increasing number of visitors from all over the world to start their experience on the Greenbrier River Trail.”
“Our plan is to work closely with West Virginia Division of Parks, which is working to acquire funds to enable them to purchase the property and to help them to improve the property for trail users through grants,” said McCarty
The trail association saw the project as a good fit for the land trust’s mission, which led to the trust providing a loan to the association for more than half the cost of the property. The West Virginia Land Trust works with land owners and communities interested in protecting lands of scenic, recreational, agricultural, or ecological importance.
“Both of our groups are interested in promoting tourism and improving public access to recreational resources in West Virginia, such as the Greenbrier River Trail,” said Rod Graves, board member for the West Virginia Land Trust.
“We’re very pleased to have a strong local partner like the Greenbrier River Trail Association and to provide support for a project with such significant public impact,” Graves said.
The Greenbrier River Trail offers fishing, swimming, hiking, bicycling, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. On the last Saturday in April 2015, the trail association will host the 29th Annual Great Greenbrier River Race, which includes prizes, live music, and food. Proceeds from the event go toward improvements to the trail.