Sharon & Paul Weekley
2374 WV Rt. 18 N
West Union, WV 26456
General Overview of Trail
In West Virginia the American Discovery Trail ventures through what might be called the “amazement park” of eastern America. Many trails offer scenic vistas, pastoral settings, stirring waterfalls, and botanical diversification, while rivers provide for whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing and sternwheel pleasures. There are also caves for underground exploring; cliffs for climbing; and friendly people to assure success in your trekking adventures. Plus, the mystique of the of Civil War-era tunnels and the local legends of the trail add to West Virginia’s assets for a multifaceted outdoor visit.
Detailed Trail Description
The trail in West Virginia is 288.6 miles long, with four segments.
Maryland State Line to Streby – 59.5 miles
After crossing the Potomac River, the ADT follows a lightly used road to Green Spring. This segment of the ADT follows a valley of the Appalachian mountain range, then crosses a mountain near the Springfield Public Hunting and Fishing Area to Fort Ashby. Still on a valley road, the ADT passes the Nancy Hanks Memorial, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln’s mother. At Greenland Gap, the Nature Conservancy operates a nature preserve. This is part of the Potomac Highlands, some of the oldest mountains and hardwood forests in the world.
Streby to Nestorville – 69.7 miles
Continuing south on country roads, the ADT passes through the town of Sherr and on to Jordan Run and U.S. Forest Service Road FR 75, which climbs steeply onto the Allegheny Front in Monongahela National Forest. At 3,500 to 4,000 feet, this segment is the highest elevation that the ADT will reach east of the Rockies. The ADT traveler will soon know why West Virginia is called the Mountain State!
The Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is unique in that it resembles the Canadian tundra. It can snow here during any month of the year. This raised plateau provides panoramic vistas of the Allegheny Mountains. From Bear Rocks the ADT passes Red Creek Campground before crossing Dolly Sods. It then descends to Canaan Valley Resort State Park. The ADT intersects the 290-mile Allegheny Trail at Canaan Valley and follows it to Blackwater Falls State Park. The park gets its name from the five-story-high falls on the Blackwater River as it tumbles down Blackwater Canyon. Still in the Monongahela National Forest, the ADT continues on to Hendricks. Country roads provide the route to Nestorville, through Moatsville to Tygart Lake State Park.
Nestorville to Wilsonburg – 84 miles
Grafton is the location of the International Mother’s Day Shrine, which was the site of the first observance of Mother’s Day on May 10, 1908. The route is then on country roads to Spetler, where it picks up the Harrison County Rail-Trail to Clarksburg. Clarksburg is the birthplace of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Over 40 percent of the population is of Italian descent and each Labor Day the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival is held here.
Wilsonburg to Ohio State Line – 75 miles
From Wolf Summit for the next 60 miles to Walker, the ADT follows the North Bend Rail-Trail, a National Recreation Trail, through one mountain valley after another. Operated as part of North Bend State Park, this trail has 10 tunnels and 37 trestles. There are several points of interest, including New Fort Salem at Salem, the Old Stone House at Pennsboro, and the glass industry in Pennsboro and Ellenboro, where marbles and hand-blown glassware are made. Ritchie County is famous for its asphalt mines, which produced the material for many of Europe’s first paved roads. Remnants of gas and oil fields dot the way.
At Parkersburg, a side trip to Blennerhasset Island Historical State Park by a stern-wheeler is worthwhile. Harman Blennerhassett built a mansion here in 1800 and allegedly plotted with Aaron Burr to establish an independent southwest empire. The ADT enters Ohio by crossing the U.S. 50 bridge over the Ohio River to Belpre.
- North Bend Rail Trail
- Harrison County Rail-Trail
- Dryfork Rail-Trail
- Allegheny Trail
- Monongahela National Forest
- Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
- Canaan Valley Resort State Park
- Tygart Lake State Park
- Blackwater Falls State Park
- North Bend State Park
- Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park and Museum
- Mountwood Park
Points of Interest
- Appalachian Mountain Range
- Potomac Highlands
- Greenland Gap
- Nancy Hanks Memorial
- Blackwater River Canyon and Falls
- Dolly Sods Wilderness Area
- Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
- Otter Creek Wilderness Area
- Salem Depot, Fort New Salem
- Veterans Memorial in Salem
- Smithton Depot in Smithburg
- Doddridge County Courthouse in West Union
- Veterans Memorial in West Union
- Pennsboro Depot in Pennsboro
- Ritchie County Veterans Memorial in Cairo
- Old Bank of Cairo which is on the National Register (houses North Bend Rails to Trails Foundation office)
- Blennerhassett Hotel and Museum in Parkersburg
- Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg
- Julia-Ann Historic District
- Point Park and Plaza
- Smoot Theater
- Wood County Courthouse