Brooke Pioneer Trail

West Virginia

Brooke Pioneer Trail Facts

States: West Virginia
Counties: Brooke
Length: 6.7 miles
Trail end points: Charles St. and 2nd St. (Wellsburg) and Wheeling Heritage Trails at SR 2 and Stone Shannon Rd. (Short Creek)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6210912
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Brooke Pioneer Trail Description

The Brooke Pioneer Trail follows the east bank of the Ohio River between Wellsburg and the Brooke–Ohio County line at Short Creek. Here the Brooke Pioneer Trail continues into Ohio County as the Wheeling Heritage Trails. Both trails are paved and provide a total of 18 miles of scenic hiking or biking along the river between the two cities they connect.

You'll find expansive interpretive signs along the way that describe the railroad history—the Panhandle Railroad—of this area. Once called the "Wheeling Secondary Track" between Weirton Junction Tower and Benwood, West Virginia, the line opened in 1878. Serving freight (until 1981) and passengers (until 1951), the tracks were pulled in 1987, and it would be another decade before trail construction began.

In the north, the Brooke Pioneer Trail begins at a connection with the Wellsburg Yankee Trail, another rail-trail open on the same corridor in the community's downtown. Extending south from Wellsburg, the trail crosses Buffalo Creek on a restored railroad trestle paralleling State Route 2. This is how the route continues for its entire journey: wedged between the road and the Ohio River.

That doesn't mean the views are lacking. In fact, the road is often shielded from view by brush likely there since the days of the railroad. Looking to the west, trail users are treated to stunning vistas of the powerful Ohio River and the dramatic climbs and drops of the hills in Ohio just beyond.

Those looking for reminders of the area's industrial past won't be disappointed, either. The trail skirts the edge of a handful of manufacturing properties between Wellsburg and Windsor Heights, and the large cooling tower and smokestack of Ohio’s Cardinal Power Plant interrupt the views of the rolling wooded landscape on the opposite shore.

Parking and Trail Access

In Wellsburg, park just south of the trestle off SR 2 south of town. Limited parking is also available just off the trail in Beech Bottom. In Windsor Heights, park just south of the bridge off SR 2 at Stone Shannon Road. Use caution when crossing the highway to access the trail.

Brooke Pioneer Trail Reviews

Wonderful view of the Ohio River and nicely paved trail. Hubby and I walked it today from Wellsburg, 4 miles out and 4 miles back. Plenty of benches and historical markers. But, NO PORTAPOTTY OR RESTROOM!!! Kinda ruined it for me!

Started at the Pike Island Locks and Dam. My son and I went north and turned around where the Brooke trail veers around the old Wheeling-Pitt property. The Wheeling side was in good shape (a lot of blown garbage from the nearby roadway). On the Brooke section, plenty of benches, rest stops, and one historical section which was interesting. Well marked, Brooke side had downed trees on path (small ones). Enjoyable day, not bad on bad knees.

This is a great addition to the Wheeling trail....hopefully they continue to connect it to make even longer trails. I think more people would try biking if we are offered these beautiful trails to ride.

Accordion

We traveled to the area from eastern PA to ride the Wellsburg Yankee, Brooke Pioneer and Wheeling Heritage Trails.

Of the 3 trails, this was the most appealing. The trail had some lovely spots, there was evidence that people were making an effort to beautify the trail in spots and the asphalt was in good shape.

I wish that the other trails were as nice.

Trail was very well kept. Little chilly today, but still a nice ride. Strong wind coming back from Pike Lock and Dam back to Wellsburg. Overall very nice day.

It is a beautiful day and I was in the mood for a new bike trail, so I took Rt. 50 out of Bridgeville and hopped on the Brooke Pioneer Trail in Wellsburg. That was a beautiful drive and the trail was also beautiful. The first 5 or so miles are heavily wooded, beautiful scenery, beautiful views of the river. After that it was kind of out in the open, along Rt. 2. I went to just past the lock and dam, then turned around. I would have gone farther, but I was fighting a strong wind! There is an observation deck at the lock if you want to watch. All in all a beautiful, relaxing day!

Did 23.5 miles on this two trails from Wellsburg, WV to Warwood, WV. Very nice trail with several short hills (about 10 feet rises). Does have expansion joints so can be irritating on your backside if you don't have a comfortable seat. Shade and Sunny - so take your suntan lotion or the back of your neck will be sunburned. Outhouse - you need to bring TP. Very nice bike trail

I rode my bike yesterday afternoon south from the Wellsburg outskirts (the parking lot by Smith Oil) to some large silo things about 8 miles and it is an awesome trail! It is very smooth & flat and easy to ride on. The smell of honeysuckle is heavenly wonderful for about 75% of the trail and there are tall (5 - 6') queen anne's lace weeds and daisy weeds(?) and other field flowers along the way. Not to mention the grand OHIO River along 1 side and WV route 2 on the other. The brush and trees are grown tall so it wasn't always a clear view of the river, but you could see barges and boats floating along. The trail is mostly shady with some sunny open areas. There are some signs along the trail about the Elm tree and eagles and the train history. There was an "outhouse" rest area about half way down the trail (thank goodness!) and alot of benches and trash cans along the trail. I noticed how they take good care of the trail - it was clean and weeds were cut back and mowed - thank you to whoever does that!! Even though all of the honeysuckle were in abundance, there were no bees/bugs. The only bugs I encountered were the typical gnat groups I find on every trail anyhow!! The trail was not busy either - i passed about 6 groups/persons in the 2 hours on the trail. This is truly a wonderful trail but i live 2 hours away!! Plus gas was cheaper here in WV than OH so i filled er up!! Happy trails :)

Observation and documentation of railroad heritage is my game, and the northern end of the Brooke Pioneer Trail gives one a double treat! This once Pennsylvania Railroad's 26.5-mile "Wheeling Secondary Track" between Weirton Junction Tower (Weirton) and Benwood, WV was opened in 1878. The line saw its last passenger train in April 1951 (PRR), its last freight train in 1981 (Conrail), and its track was removed in 1987. Construction of today's trail was begun in 1997. The entire north-south length of this trail follows the Ohio River, but offers a wide variety of visual experiences. It's a wonderful trail. It is new, smooth, asphalt, and flat. The north end of this trail begins as the "Yankee Trail" southward out of Wellsburg, WV, a nice little town. Stock up on snacks and supplies at the Dollar General at the north end of the trail along WV-2. Parking at the trail head at the north end of the gas station on 2 at the south end of Wellsburg, I called this Mile 1.0 (from Central Wellsburg). Starting south, the first thing you will note is a short section of carefully preserved track in the grade crossing behind the gas station, and that wonderful "Panhandle Railroad Company" plaque depicting all of the information which I began this review with. The old railbed drops down below paralleling Route 2, and almost immediately you see three levels of ground travel... Your trail, Highway 2 above, and between them, two miles of the roadbed of the old Panhandle Traction Company, the 1901-1936 interurban trolley line which connected Wellsburg and Wheeling. Moving south a short distance, another plaque points out one of two (supposedly - I saw only one) stone with concrete deck cap trolley bridges, this one spanning a stream river inlet. The embankment is high, and note several locations of cut stone retaining wall between the trail and the trolley bed. This is quite impressive. The power line atop it has saved the trolley grade here. At MP 1.7, a 381-year-old American Elm tree, supposedly the largest one east of the Mississippi River! Around Mile 3, you break out along the open highway, but the trail very quickly ducks back under tree cover along the Ohio River, and divorces itself from soon distant WV-2. The silence is a welcome treat, and you are on your own for a peaceful run along the mighty Ohio for several miles. 4.2 miles south of Wellsburg, watch carefully on your east side for the sole survivor of once 26 classic cast iron trademarks of the Pennsylvania Railroad's century of presence on this line... The railroad's Milepost 12, which measured distance from this secondary branch's connection with the former Pittsburgh-Saint Louis "Panhandle Main Line" at "Weirton Junction" Tower, 12 miles north. That line east from the pre-1985 tower site is today's Panhandle Trail (another trail beauty!). Then, 2.6 miles south of Milepost 12, you will see a rusty phone box on the river side of the trail. This was the site of the former "KR" Block-Limit, an unmanned "station" where train crews would need to call "Rockville" Tower, on the east side of Mingo Junction, for permission to travel into either railroad "block" or section from this point either north or south. The trail breaks out of its solitary running shortly afterward to closely parallel widening WV-2, and my southward sojourn ended at the Tunnel Ridge River Loadout facility, 8.2 miles south of Wellsburg. I'd like to document my finds from this point south, to and through Wheeling, at some future point. I did ride this southern half of the trail from this point south a year ago, before the trail was completed into Wellsburg. I can tell you that, as the trail drops away from Route 2 closing in on Wheeling, the classic suburban backyards and industrial remnants you ride through down there are just fascinating! At the site of the old Pennsy station, just south of your passing under Interstate-70, there is a wonderful display plaque with images and information about the Wheeling depot and its once-mighty Pennsylvania Railroad System! The concrete "shell" you see near the sign is the basement floor baggage room of the old PRR station, which was, sadly, demolished years ago. Compare this structure remnant to the plaque photo! The Brooke Pioneer Trail is one fine example of how a great trail can be built, while retaining the sense that this was indeed once part of a classic railroad system! - Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA

May 7, 2011, GREAT NEWS!! Started a ride North from Wheeling Heritage Port and discovered that I could ride all the was to Wellsburg.. The Brooke Pioneer Trail is now complete. The trail is completely paved and very flat.

Was there today (Sunday 11/21/2010) and walked a little of the new section that completes this trail. What a good looking smooth flat surface. Seen alot of people enjoying the day here on the trail. Were glad to see this come together and plan to really enjoy it. The trail is about say 6 3/4 miles long now, but links to other trails at each end. I'll save the details for you to discover when you come check it out in person.
ENJOY !

P.S. Check out the pictures of the new pavement.....

Smooth, flat, paved asphalt rail trail right next to the Ohio River. The northern section has a small parking lot by a gas station south of the city of Wellsburg, WV just off State Rt. 2. From this parking lot you can go north into the city of Wellsburg via the "Yankee Trail" which starts just over the "Buffalo Creek" bridge. Or you can go south on the Pioneer Trail for around 3 miles. At this point is where you can expect a planned extension to connect the trail to its other end point about another 3 miles ahead. Right now there is a "Gap" there in the trail. Right now you must take State Rt. 2 south the 3 miles thru the town of Beech Bottom to the other end of the "Gap". There the paved trails starts up again. At this point the Pioneer Trails continues another say, short distance to the "Short Creek" bridge where its connects to another paved trail, (Wheeling Heritage Trail) that takes you clear down to the city of "Wheeling" WV. a nice ride.
You can find parking at the "Pike Island Dam" off of State Rt. 2 also.

Historical signage along the trail.
Plenty to see along the river.
Nice place to relax, Picnic Area along the trail.
Park Benches placed every so often to take a rest.
Check it out for youself - write a reveiw - give your opinion

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