PRINCETON – A new authority created to bring interconnected hiking, horseback riding, biking and kayaking trails to multiple counties in southern West Virginia is organizing its members as the trail network begins to form.
The Southern West Virginia Non-Motorized Trail Authority is working on the development of a six-county non-motorized trail system for hiking, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking and draisine trail systems, as well as a trail system equestrian. Mercer County Commission Commissioner Bill Archer traveled to Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, McDowell and Wyoming counties to help organize the new agency.
Archer said participating county commissions had received a letter indicating who should be appointed to serve on the new authority’s board.
“The letter stated that participating counties should select two members for authority, and the statutes stipulate that one must be someone who is committed to nature and nature conservation, as well as to trails and trails. outdoor activities, ”said Archer. The other member must be from an elected county department: one of the three commissioners, the county clerk, the circuit court clerk, or the sheriff. The reason is that elected officials have a responsibility to be attentive to the public, and I think that’s an important part of our journey.
Work on the Mercer County branches of the non-motorized trail system is underway. The trails are open at the Gardner Center from Exit 14 of Interstate 77, Archer said. Other trails are in the works.
“We are working on avenues along the Bluestone River and hopefully by the spring we will have clearance for some kayak entrances,” he said. “And we work with two landowners who have a property on Bluestone that goes almost from the intersection of Brush Creek all the way to Pipestem, so it comes close.”
County commission chairman Gene Buckner said the new trail system would benefit the county. Lots of people arrive to ATV on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, but some don’t want to ride all day. The new trail system will offer additional options such as kayaking.
The Gardner Center hiking trails are open from 9 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday; from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; and from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Archer said.