A Nice Trail
I recently rode this trail, and found that the most difficult part was getting on it at the Fairmont end. Here is how I would advise you to enter the trail: First, forget about Mary Lou Retton park. It is very confusing. Instead, I parked at the shopping area on Country Club Road. (Near the Locust Avenue end.) Edgeway Drive is adjacent to the shopping center and is easy to enter without having to ride on Country Club road. This street is level for two hundred yards or so, then dips down and around a tight curve. At the bottom, and just to the right you will see a course shale (rock) road leading down into the woods. WALK YOUR BIKE TO THE BOTTOM, then proceed through the forest for approximately 1/4 mile. You will come to a railroad bridge which crosses the West Fork River. Cross the bridge and Viola! you are on asphalt. You are at mile marker 14. From there to approximately mile marker 2 you are on level asphalt. There are a couple of places where the trail has been washed out or repaired, but nothing very lengthy or hard to navigate.
You will pass the former coal mining town of Monongah, then to Worthington, Enterprise, and Hutchinson. Lots of back yards, playgrounds, and a few rural road crossings. There are some waterfalls, and nice river views, along with just a quiet ride through the forests.All in all a very nice ride. When you leave Marion county, the trail turns to a fine shale base, and will seem a bit rough at first, but you will soon get acclimated to it.
As you near Shinnston, the trail here is also used as a horse riding trail, and there are some dropping that you need to steer clear of.
In Shinnston, you will travel behind the buildings that line the main street, then the trail goes into a narrow walking path to the end.
When you return to the northern end, you will have the uphill-walking-bike-dragging chore of getting back to Edgeway drive, but the ride, all things considered, is well worth it.
a little rough for spinning
I use a cross bike and generally try to spin along at approx 15 mph. I found the first 3 miles of this trail to be incompatible with my style. the cinder portion of this trail stretches from shinnston to the marion county line, approx 3 miles. it has heavy horse traffic which gives the trail a mogul effect. you have to slow down considerably and ride tall. at mile two or therabouts, there is a deep rill of erosion about a foot deep. I was able to get stopped but it would certainly result in an accident if hit directly.
from marion county heading north the the fairmont section, it is nicely paved, however there are frequent road crossings. altough the road crossings do not appear to have heavy traffic, the trail has very narrow posts to prevent vehicular traffic. they are so narrow that you can put your feet out while going thru and touch each post. point being that the fast portion of this trail is frequently interupted with dangerous barriers.
scenery is modest, mostly going through residential areas.
As another reviewer noted, the Mary Lou Retton park entrance is not a desirable place to begin your ride. I would recommend starting your ride at mile 3 (approx). From Shinnston, cross a bridge then take Rt. 19 north approx. 3 miles. there will be another bridge near a low water dam with a sign that says 'public fishing access'. take that bridge (right turn off Rt. 19) and immediately across it there is parking immediately adjacent to the paved trail, and I believe a port a john. ride north from that point, not south!
hope this helps anyone considering the west fork river trail.