Allegheny Highlands Trail

West Virginia

Allegheny Highlands Trail Facts

States: West Virginia
Counties: Randolph, Tucker
Length: 24.5 miles
Trail end points: US 219/33 south of Mapleview Dr. (Elkins) and 3rd St. and Main St./SR 72 (Hendricks)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017309
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Allegheny Highlands Trail Description

The Allegheny Highlands Trail (AHT) follows the original route of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railway, built by Henry Gassaway Davis in 1884. For 24.5 miles this exceptionally scenic trail provides panoramic views of the West Virginia countryside, as it passes through a mountainous region with small towns and rural farmland.

From the southern Highland Park trailhead in Elkins, the trail gradually ascends for about 15 miles, passing around Pheasant and Polecat Knob mountains. The rural views and mountainous backgrounds provide numerous opportunities for photos. Beyond the mountains, the trail starts to descend more steeply and approaches the small town of Parsons.

A short, easy-to-follow on-road section of the trail in Parsons offers the chance to grab a bite to eat at any of the several restaurants. The trail crosses the Shavers Fork River on the restored Western Maryland Railroad bridge and continues through Mill Race Park. A ramp from the park ascends to the bike lane on the Black Fork River bridge. The next trailhead is located just over the Black Fork River on the southern side of US 219. The remaining section is paved and follows the beautiful Black Fork River to the community of Hendricks.

There are plans to extend the Allegheny Highlands Trail south into downtown Elkins and north to Mt. Storm Lake, making it about 44 miles. The railroad grade, though not developed as part of the AHT, continues along the beautifully scenic Blackwater River to Thomas as the Blackwater Canyon Trail. Be warned: it's steep.

Parking and Trail Access

From downtown Elkins, take US 219 north to access the southernmost trailhead, Highland Park, located across from the Division of Highways District 8 Headquarters (just a mile from downtown Elkins).

The Gilman, Kerens, Montrose and Porterwood trailheads are located mid-trail, and each include parking facilities. Continue following US 219 north to the northern trailhead, located at the intersection of Main and 3rd Streets in Hendricks.

Allegheny Highlands Trail Reviews

My husband and I were looking for a nice long trail to do. We picked this one. Drove down from Canada to do some early Spring riding. We enjoyed the easy 6mile climb from Parsons towards Elkins but were quite surprised passing a wood factory and messy backyards with lots of dogs barking and chained up. I could go on but was disappointed by the whole area.

My wife & I, both in our mid 60's and neither of us avid mountain bikers, just completed the Blackwater Canyon section of the Allegheny Highlands trail. About 10-12 miles of "almost heaven" from Thomas to Parsons WV. It was a beautiful cool clear early summer day, just right for a nice ride in the woods. We started in Thomas where the trail is a well cared for gravel bed, nice and wide. We took our time stopping at the coke ovens and the numerous water falls along the trail. The nice easy downhill slope made the peddling easy. After a few miles the trail narrows to a single lane that is very passable. At about mile 6-7 the Limerock trail joins up and the trail again widens to a well packed gravel bed. Once you get to Hendricks the trail is pleasantly paved and finally ends in a park in Parsons. The well shaded trail should be comfortable even in the heat of summer and the scenery should be incredible once the leaves fall in late autumn. I highly recommend this as a nice easy trail, just right for friends and family.

Rode entire trail from Hendricks to Elkins. The section from Hendricks through the first few miles out of Parsons are paved. This section has a lot to see and appears to be well used. Once leaving the Cheat valley after Parsons the scenery is rural, nothing spectacular. The gradual climb to the county line is notable and requires a little more effort. After climbing a few miles it changes to well-maintained cinders. After a short descent from the county line it is flat. Worth a ride if you're in the area. I combined this with the Blackwater Canyon Trail.

Accordion

Drove out to Hendrick, WV to pick up the trail at the trailhead there, intending to ride into Elkins and back. The trail starts out excellently from Hendrick, then it's the long slog over the mountain. After you crest the top, there are several sections going towards Elkins where the trail could use some care and maintenance. Getting close to Elkins, thinks improve again. It seems as though the climb from Elkins up over the mountain, though shorter, seems to be less traveled. The end of the trail near Elkins was a bit confusing as the rail grade just seems to peter out after the 1 mile marker. Considering the route through West Virginia, there were a lot more on-road sections than I expected as well. Overall, it was a nice ride, and certainly a great adventure from the normal trails I ride in PA.

After reading the last couple reviews I had figured for the worse however was pleasantly surprised. Yes there is a short section where you have a singletrack type gravel path, maybe a quarter mile long however the surface the entire way was solid and at a minimum had two singletrack type crushed gravel surfaces allowing side by side riding. This trail is smoother than many I have been on.

My friend and I rode from the southern terminus at Elkins to the town of Parsons were we enjoyed a sandwich at the Subway just before you cross the bridge to continue to Hendricks. We then turned around and began our trip back to complete a 43 mile round trip ride.

My lady friend was trying out my Bob Trailer she was going to use on the C&O Canal trip a few days later and had a pretty good test load on it. She had no trouble climbing the grade out of Parsons on out way back to Elkins. The Grade starts at about the 14.5 mile marker and goes about 5 miles down the hill going toward Parsons.

The mountain section was quite beautiful with mountain laurel, hemlocks, etc. The farm and river bottom section was nice in its own way. Saw quite a bit of wildlife.

Would recommend this trail. Should be quite beautiful when the snow starts flying.

We rode the trail from ELKINS/PARSONS this past weekend and the trail around Kerens almost to Parsons has a lot of grass taking over the riding surface. This trail could be lost if it is not corrected.

I rode this trail with two friends in late September 2014. We began at the Hendricks end of the trail, since it was easy access after finishing the Blackwater Canyon Trail. The first few miles are paved and becomes a short section of easy light traffic street travel. The trail then turns to dirt and gravel, and is very firm and nice to ride. Next you will encounter a gradual climb that lasts about 6 miles or so.(I wish I would have paid more attention, it may be more or less 6 mi). Then it becomes a fun down hill about the same distance. The trail flattens out after this and we passed lots of pretty farmland and country scenery. Finally the trail becomes paved again for about the last 4 miles and ends in Elkins. Great trail for the family, we saw people on tandem bikes making great time!!

This was our second try to ride this trail. Rained out 2 years ago; this time weather was good. We rode from Elkins to Parsons over two days. Very nice trail and the grass is mowed down. However, they are "losing" this trail in many places as the grass is taking over and in some spots it is like slot cars. It is paved out of Elkins and a good bit of pavement towards Parson, with the rest being fine crushed limestone (at one time). This is a real nice trail and it would be a shame to lose it. Needs to be renovated. We ride Trek hybrids and we had no problems, except I did in the slots a couple of times. There are rest stops, but no outhouses or water sources.

The trail is NOT open between 5 miles west of Parsons and Mt Pheasant (Tucker/Randolph Co line) – blocked by hundreds of downed trees due to heavy snow the winter.

This is more of information for all who enjoys to run the trail in WV, my MOPS Group is hosting a 5K November 10 registration at 9 am, Kids 1/2 mile race at 930 and 5k at 10 am. Come and run and help raise money for the great Organization. Special Thanks to Williams Excavating LLC who set up to come clear trees after the Big Storm Sandy Blow throw. Thanks you.

Rode this trail from Elkins to Parsons a few weeks ago and it was a fantastic experience. First 12 miles or so to Montrose is level and very well maintained. From Montrose to the top of the mountain you make a steady 300-400 rise in elevation but the trail is easy to navigate and the climb is very gradual. From the top which is about the 15 mile marker the ride is downhill all the way to Parsons. Beautiful scenery, well maintained, and an extremely refreshing experience. A great family trail for all ages and an opportunity to experience that Almost Heaven atmosphere of a great area.

My family and I rode this last Friday (8/24). We started in Porterwood first riding west to Moore where the paved section stopped and then back to the other end of the paved section in Hendrick. After a picnic lunch I rode from Porterwood to Elkins. This is a very nice and well maintained trail. For the most part the trail parallels US 219 and therefore isn't very remote. Starting from the northeastern end of the trail you travels through several small towns and communities. Then the trail climbs through the woods to the Tucker / Randolph county border and descends into a mostly agricultural area for the ride to Elkins. There are a number of parking areas along the trail all of which are well signed. In Parsons the trail runs through a town park where there are bathrooms. Outside of Parsons where there are several stores and Elkins there are no services on the trail. The trail surface is either paved or firm cinder / crush rock. I rode the unpaved portion on my touring bike with 700x32c tires and it was easy going.

I rode from Parsons to Elkins and back on 06-08-09. The trail out of Parsons is paved for about 2-3 miles. You then ride on the road (1% grade) for about 2 miles or so. The trail then turns into gravel as you take a left turn and climb the hill (3-4% grade). This hill is rather long, but an easy steady climb. It is beautiful, but there are no safety rails and a fall would be bad. Once you are on the top, there is a short downhill until the trail evens out and almost disappears (9 miles or so at this point). After crossing your first road, you can now take the gravel trail that had weeds up to me knees along the sides and center until you reach the paved portion outside Elkins. This ride was about 22 miles for me. The return ride is much easier and was faster. Total was 44.1 miles.

I give the trail 6 out of 10. I rode a hybrid bike with high compression tires and it was great. The gravel was only thick in a couple places, but not for very long.


Geocachers throughout West Virginia and many neighboring states are enthusiastically spreading the word about the system of 25 geocaches that have been placed along the Allegheny Highlands Trail from the Highland Park trail station in Elkins to the last stop in Hendricks. The AHT is the only rail-trail in West Virginia that is host to an organized system of geocaches. The system was originally installed in 2008 with 19 caches and expanded to 25 in 2009. The response from the geocaching community has been very positive. A sampling of comments from geocachers, identified by their caching "handles" reveals these feelings:

"That's a real nice series you put out. I had a good time out there today." from 89SC

"All these AHT caches will certainly bring a lot more attention to this excellent trail. I had not been along that grade since I got to ride the Western Maryland to Cumberland and back a couple of times in the 70's." from jsmarti.

"Thanks for fun, uncomplicated caches along our favorite walking trail !! Appreciate it...!" from Fluff&Boss.

The geocaches are arranged as either "traditional" caches where the coordinates are published on www.geocaching.com, or "puzzle" caches where the coordinates have to be calculated by answering a series of questions with numeric solutions. A hypothetical question: "What is the four digit number derived by multiplying the year that Columbus sailed the ocean blue by the 2 digit number in the phrase "Sweet __ " and subtracting that number from the zip code displayed on the Post Office accross the street from the Montrose trail station?" The answer is 2411 and would be used in some manner to compute the north or west coordinates

While the majority of the caches are traditional, which makes the sport more accessible, the puzzle caches offer some cerebral exercise along with the physical work-out that riding the trail presents.

More details on the geocached aspects of the trail are available at www.geocaching.com, search for Allegheny Highlands Trail - or the zip code 26241.

Gordon Blackley, 5/12/09

"We rode this trail from parsons to elkins .very good trail , had a great time !!!!"

"Wouldn't you know that it gets dark early in November? Trail surface is quite good, w/ only one real hill just south of the northern terminus. Fast food @ each terminus. Interesting monument to flood victims next to bridge near northern terminus."

I have ridden this trail from Elkins to Parsons. The trail is in very good shape with many points of interest along the way. I liked the world's largest indoor yard sale and an Emu farm. The ride is very beautiful through and across the mountain. It's a very comfortable family ride.

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