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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 26 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. (A separate 5-miles segment also extends north from the town of Davis.)
On its southern end, the trail begins in downtown Elkins, adjacent to the West Virginia Railroad Museum. From there, it heads north to the Highland Park trailhead and then 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 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.
From downtown Elkins, take US 219 north to access the trailhead at 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.
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