- Find a Trail
- My TrailLink
- Explore Trails
- About Us
- Get Involved
Explore the best rated trails in South Charleston, WV. Whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the Elk River Trail (Coonskin Park) and Lewis McManus Memorial Honor Trail. With more than 12 trails covering 117 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
We rode on September 22 and we're warned by another cyclist that there was a dog near Duck who is chasing cyclists spooking horses and even bit a walker.
My wife and I unloaded our bikes in the parking lot beside River Street/Perry Street in Gassaway, WV. We crossed the street and rode a wide and well packed Elk River Rail Trail for about 3.5 miles before we turned back because we were limited on time. It's a cool ride even on a hot day with a band of shading trees between the trail and the Elk River. I do plan to ride the trail to Duck, WV in the near future.
I have also walked a couple of miles south and back from the Duck trail access point and it seemed as nice as the Gassaway trail head.
This rail trail has signs that limit access to walking, bicycles, Class 1 E-Bikes, and Horses.
Easy flat and filled with views. For beginning bikers or casual warmup…
The ride was on a narrow rough sidewalk, busy street on one side and steep hill down to river on other side.
I rode from the trailhead at Farm Rd to the end and back. Great shade, friendly people, not busy/crowded at all. Bird nerd paradise! So many species and songs! Trail was perfumed with the sweet smell of honeysuckle throughout. Very easy ride but recommend walking up the steep slope at the park because you have to come to a dead stop at the apex or you're in the street.
I rode this trail today after riding the Rend Trail. Well, I rode the 1.2 miles closest to Southside Junction, at least. There are two basic options for starting on this side. The only way to avoid crossing the tracks is to park at the Rend Trailhead, ride that trail, and carry your bike down the Arbuckle Connector. It's mostly rock steps, not rideable, and thus it's carrying your bike down 300 feet of election over less than a mile. But it avoids the tracks, and is how I got there.
The other is starting either at the Rend Trailhead or Thurmond and crossing the tracks. Today, a CSX crew was welding the tracks on the Thurmond side, and all signals were red as a result, but most days there are likely trails rolling through. Realistically, I expect anyone starting at the north end and traversing the whole length will want to cross the tracks and explore Thurmond, and I didn't see a reason to expect it to be any more hazardous than crossing the tracks near my grandparents' house. Why hasn't the NPS put more emphasis on making an official crossing? That is a great segway into the trail itself.
Between the Arbuckle Connector and the tracks, the trail is wide enough, and directly parallels decades-abandoned track. It's scenic, and in one section there were flowers dropped from trees all along the ground. But it's also not exactly well maintained. I had to dismount and duck my bike under one tree, and lift it over three others (two of them grouped together). It's clear that active maintenance of this trail isn't a high priority, which is likely related to why an official crossing at the southern end hasn't been a high priority.
North of the Arbuckle Connector, the trail narrows into a singletrack, and I eventually hit a lengthy mud patch that I decided was not worth traversing.
You do get some views of the New River that you don't on the Rend Trail, but none that beat what you can get from the pedestrian observation points on the bridge into Thurmond. Overall, if you're starting from the south, the Rend Trail is the better bargain even with the trestle out, at least in the spring. Maybe in August there wouldn't be mud, and the Southside would be more traversable.
I'll also note that despite rating this trail 3/5, I'd still very much recommend a day exploring Thurmond, the Rend Trail, and if time permits the Southside Trail. But Thurmond should be the main draw, not the trails, and given their short lengths and rough terrain, it doesn't really make sense to haul bikes there if you don't already have them loaded onto your car for another destination.
I rode the southern part of the Rend Trail today, up to the second trestle, which unfortunately remains closed due to being "critically structurally deficient". I am not an engineer, but it appeared that the steel substructure under the second section of the deck (from the south end) has slipped from its intended position. Unfortunately, it's probably very expensive to fix something like that in such a remote area.
As for the rest of the trail? It's quite scenic. Beautiful forest and mountain views. Sheer drops off to the east that are steep enough I'd need a topo map to tell you how far they drop, and equally steep mountain on the west side. Coal baron Rend built the trail in 1901-1904 for $350,000, and it's no wonder it cost so much, it's a small wonder the trail exists at all. Many rail lines have small areas that are challenging, more so in West Virginia, but on this one pretty much the whole route would be challenging to build.
Thus, TrailLink is correct that this is, technically, a rail-trail. But the farther you get from the southern trailhead, the less it feels like one. It gets narrower, eventually becoming a singletrack through a short meadow before opening up a bit before the closed trestle. It's also about 240 feet of elevation gain from the base to the closed trestle, which is officially 1.27 miles. The plus side is that you could likely coast most of the way back, but it's definitely rougher than the nice, crushed-limestone covered rail trail you may be expecting if you've ridden the Greenbrier River Trail.
There's also a Church "Loop" trail that you can hike from the Rend Trail, which takes you to the Thurmond Baptist Church, which from the exterior appears to be in fairly good condition for being in the middle of the woods. I put the "Loop" in quotes since I couldn't figure out how to make a loop out of it. It is definitely not bike-accessible, and still has some trees down across the trail from the hurricane last fall.
In summary, this trail is best combined with exploring Thurmond, and perhaps some of the other short, nearby trails. Expect some work but also some nice scenery, and you'll likely ride away happy.
We did a 39.1 mile ride on the Elk River Rail trail last Friday and it was decent. TrailLink states that the trail starts at Duck in the north but it is actually surfaced from Frametown to the north. We first checked the trail at Gassaway which the Elk River Trail Foundation Facebook page said it was open to. The surface from Gassaway to Frametown is pretty rough gravel so we skipped that part. We rode from Frametown to Ivydale and back. The trail is surfaced with fine packed limestone gravel and overall is decent. There are drainage issues that have created some small ruts at places but nothing terrible. All the bridges are nicely decked. The Elk River flows alongside the trail and is a pleasant, pretty river. As far as trailside amenities the only thing in this section are two new restrooms. There are no benches, pavilions or such. There is a small store at Duck that was open but we did not stop. At Ivydale we met a state park ranger who said the trail from Harland to Duck was now part of the state park system and they were working on upgrades and indicated benches would be part of that. He also said the trail would eventually extend through Gassaway up to somewhere around Burnsville. The ride was decent but I would not go out of my way to ride this trail - at least not yet. If you're in the area and want to ride, go for it. There's nothing else nearby. Hopefully, improvements will continue and this trail will only get better.
If you’re a strong male and have a weapon, it’s a cool trail to be on. If you’re a single woman who isn’t a martial arts expert, I would advise against it. The parking area has a lot of nefarious looking people loitering about. When I first pulled up there were two cop cars questioning shady looking people. Sad that a nice trail is in such a bad area
I started on Mollies Run rd side and initially couldn’t see the trail because there’s no parking. It’s residential area but there was a church (also really no parking) but i went ahead and parked at the church. First mile was a bit eerie because it was early I guess and no one else was on it. After a mile , i got to a busier side by the police and fire dept. I ran it 3 miles in and 3 miles back before some elevation. I enjoyed the run overall.
I’ve walked every section of this trail, morning and evening. Early mornings are great, both for light on the Kanawha River, and for having it to yourself. I look forward to the day when this trail connects to the Elk River Rail Trail, and other long distance trails.
We rode this Trail takes you down by the river passed a lot of historic places governor's Mansion capital beautiful scenery it's a great ride.
TrailLink is a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (a non-profit) and we need your support!