Since 1995, the Highlands Trail Foundation (HTF) has worked to develop recreational trail opportunities in the Potomac Highlands region of West Virginia. The all-volunteer organization has focused primarily on development of the Allegheny Highlands Trail (AHT), a rail-trail in Randolph and Tucker counties, as the “backbone” of a regional trail system to access additional hiking and biking trails in the Monongahela National Forest (MNF), as well as water trails on nearby rivers.
A total of 31 miles of trail is now complete in Randolph and Tucker counties, including 26 contiguous miles from Elkins to Hendricks, and a separate 5-mile section near Davis. With the Elkins Rail Trail Connector project completing the AHT in Randolph County to its southern trailhead at the Elkins Depot, our attention is now turned to maintenance needs on the existing trail and continued development in Tucker County.
The HTF offers several events to showcase completed and proposed sections of the Allegheny Highlands Trail. Our signature Blackwater Canyon Half Marathon brings runners from West Virginia and nearly a dozen other states to experience a truly unique race event. Named to Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine's Best of the Blue Ridge in 2021, the race has been nominated for recognition again in 2022. Other events include the Blackwater Canyon Bike Ride, Ramps & Rail Bike Ride, and Spring Rail Trail Cleanup.
Please join us for one or more of these events, or create your own on the Allegheny Highlands Trail of West Virginia.
Western Maryland Railroad
The history of West Virginia is tied to coal and lumber, and associated industries such as paper milling and coke production. The resources harvested and products created were shipped across state lines via the intricate rail road systems put in place.
The Western Maryland RR, which is now our current Rail-Trail, stretched through Maryland, Pennsylvania and of course, West Virginia. The rail road system initially had many names and owners; however, under ownership of George Gould, son of legendary rail baron Jay Gould, the small rail line grew exponentially, reaching from Hagerstown to Cumberland, to the coal deposits and lumber stands of WV. Building railroads in the Allegheny Mountains & Monongahela Forest proved to be difficult because of the steep mountain grades and switch backs. After decades of fast service, the WMRR was acquired by the B&O RR in 1964, but the tracks laid down by the WMRR were no longer the most direct owned by the B&O, so much of the extension was abandoned around 1975, leaving the property available for reuse and resulting in recreational paths like today’s Allegheny Highlands Trail. For more information about the Western Maryland Rail Road, visit here.
Turning former rail road tracks into trails promotes community revitalization and human health. It can transform a piece of history into something useful for today. These transformed spaces give unique points of view into history, nature and human ability.
To learn more about the Rail Trail Conservatory, click here.
For additional trail or area information, call or visit:
Elkins Depot Welcome Center
315 Railroad Ave.
Elkins, WV 26241 (304) 635-7803
Tucker County Convention & Visitors Bureau
1-800-782-2775 (304) 259-5315
Monongahela National Forest
200 Sycamore Street
Elkins, WV 26241 (304) 636-1800
460 William Ave.
Davis, WV 26260 (304) 259-5286
Joey’s Bike Shop
19B 3rd Street
Elkins, WV 26241 (304) 636-0219