Morgantown is known as the home of West Virginia University, the inspiration for a Joni Mitchell song and the birthplace of Don Knotts. And it's also known for its wonderful trails: the Mon River Rail-Trail System. The nexus of this 45-mile trail system is Hazel Ruby McQuain Park in downtown Morgantown. Located adjacent to a restored railway station, the park is a vibrant hub of local activity, with a steady stream of walkers, runners, skaters and cyclists. The rail-trail that runs through the park-stretching 6.5 miles to the north and 19.5 miles to the south-hugs the Monongahela River, one of a few American rivers that flows north. The "Mon" eventually arrives in Pittsburgh, where it joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River.
This system of trails, which follows a former CSX rail line, comprises four segments, each with their own name.
The Decker's Creek Trail is the gem of the system. Beginning at the confluence of the Monongahela River and Decker's Creek at Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, the trail stretches 19 miles to the southeast, gaining 1,000 feet as it climbs out of the Monongahela River valley. It parallels Deckers Creek and Scenic Byway Route 7 East to slightly west of Reedsville, WV, in Preston County. But the most memorable feature of this landscape is Decker's Creek itself. Because of the steady grade, the trail passes a series of dramatic rapids and waterfalls, while the creek noisily rushes headlong toward the Monongahela. Highly-experienced kayakers paddle Deckers Creek, which has some Class VI rapids, and rock climbing is also popular in the region.
The first 2.5 miles of the Decker's Creek Trail are paved, passing through an unremarkable urban landscape in Morgantown. The trail provides easy access to Marilla Park, a city park with a swimming pool & water slides, tennis courts, and playground as well as neighboring restaurants & food stores. After passing under Interstate 68, the surface changes to crushed stone. As the ascent begins, you enter a rural landscape distinguished by hemlock, rhododendron and a smattering of residences.
The trail provides a close-up view of Greer Limestone, an active quarry business. Near the communities of Masontown and Bretz, the trail passes an abandoned row of coke ovens, remnants from a large coal-mining industry. The Bretz Coke Ovens are listed as a National Historic Landmark.
As the trail approaches its endpoint near Reedsville, the grade flattens and the woods give way to wetland areas that feature cattails and red-winged blackbirds. Less than 1 mile away on State Route 92 is the Arthurdale Heritage District and Museum. The entire community of Arthurdale is on the National Register of Historic Places, recognized as the Nation's First New Deal Homestead Community.
For those not accustomed to hard pedaling, you can start on the Reedsville end and enjoy a pleasant ride downhill into Morgantown. At the start in Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, you can also pick up the Mons River Rail-Trail Caperton section
Park in Morgantown at Ruby Hazel McQuain Riverfront Park and in Saberton at Marilla Park. Masontown and Reedsville also have trailheads with parking.