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Morgantown is known as the home of West Virginia University, the inspiration for a Joni Mitchell song and the birthplace of Don Knotts. But it’s also known for its extensive rail-trail system along the Monongahela River—one of a few American rivers that flows north—and its tributaries.
The Deckers Creek Trail is the gem of the system. Beginning at the confluence of the Monongahela River and Deckers Creek in downtown Morgantown, the trail is one of the main attractions of Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park. Located adjacent to a restored railway station, the park is the nexus of the trail system and a vibrant hub of local activity, with a steady stream of walkers, runners, skaters and cyclists. The Caperton Trail meets the Deckers Creek Trail in the park, situated roughly at the midpoint of its course through Morgantown and Star City.
From the park, the Deckers Creek Trail stretches 19 miles to the southeast along a former rail corridor, paralleling Deckers Creek and State Route 7 to slightly west of the small town of Reedsville in Preston County. The first 2.5 miles of the trail are paved, passing through the urban landscape of Morgantown. The trail provides easy access to Marilla Park, a city park with a playground, swimming pool and tennis courts, as well as neighboring restaurants and food stores. After passing under Interstate 68, the surface changes to crushed stone.
The trail gains 1,000 feet as it climbs out of the Monongahela River valley and enters a rural landscape distinguished by hemlock, rhododendron and a smattering of residences. But the most memorable feature of the surrounding landscape is Deckers 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 trail provides a close-up view of Greer Limestone, an active quarry business. Near the communities of Masontown and Bretz, the trail also 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 first of several planned communities created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program.
Those not accustomed to hard pedaling can start on the Reedsville end and enjoy a pleasant ride downhill into Morgantown. Once downtown, connections to two other rail-trails can be made for further exploration: the Mon River Trail North and the Mon River Trail South. Combined, the four rail-trails—Deckers Creek, Caperton, and the North and South trails—make for nearly 50 miles of interconnected, continuous riding.
Parking for the Deckers Creek Trail is available in Morgantown at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, Whitemore Park and Marilla Park. Masontown and Reedsville also have primitive trailheads with parking.
To reach Hazel Ruby McQuain Park from Interstate 68 west, take exit 7 and go 0.3 mile. Turn right on County Road 857 south and go 1 mile. Turn left on US 119 (Mileground Road/North Willey Street). Go 3 miles and turn left as US 119 becomes High Street. Go 1 mile and turn right on Moreland Street. Hazel Ruby McQuain Park is in less than a quarter mile.
To reach the Reedsville trailhead from Morgantown, take State Route 7 southeast toward Reedsville for about 17 miles. In Reedsville, continue straight on SR 92. Go 0.8 mile to the trailhead.
I'm normally a moderate level trail biker, but visited this trail as a walker instead, with 2 - 50+ companions - one human and one canine. I will say you see much more when your pace is slower, even though we only covered a short section of this trail. Due to time constraints and the intense summer heat, we chose the section close to Morgantown over the more rural (and probably more scenic) southern section. Parking is available and adequate at Marilla Park and another dedicated trail parking area nearby. We picnicked in the park and walked over the creek via boardwalk to access the paved trail. It's partly urban views - mobile home park, businesses along rt 7 - but the creek is nearby the entire length. Board of parks employees were very visible on a Monday - running a day camp at the park, mowing the grass, and completing a new trail access bridge. Approaching downtown, there is a nice dog park and benches. The intersection with Hazel Ruby Mcquain Park is, well, interesting. There is a trail parking area I imagine is accessed from one of the downtown streets, and I agree that the bus station parking area is best avoided. The Mon and Caperton Trails intersect here but didn't appear to be well marked coming from the Deckers Creeks Trail, it just ends near the bus station where there are many other walkways, as well as restrooms and a water fountain. This also seemed to where displaced persons congregate - they did not bother with us, or us with them. There was light traffic when we visited, although when WVU is in session I would think it would be busier. I look forward to bringing my hybrid to see the rest of the trail next time.
I spent a day in Morgantown hitting both Mon River Trails and the Caperton Trail, but the Decker's Creek portion was the most scenic. (North is notable too). Be prepared for a steady climb out of Morgantown after a couple miles, but its a moderate grade and provides a fun reward on the way back down. After 13-14 miles, I ran into kids on dirt bikes on the trail and more non bicycle congestion ahead, so I reversed course and headed back down. Not many trail heads after a few miles, so bring lots of water.
Only issue was a hard time in finding good parking. Do NOT try to park at HR McQuain Park even though it is the hub of the trails in the area. All parking spots are metered or reserved for patrons of nearby places, it seems to be a bus transfer station based on the herd of buses I ran into on arrival and the traffic to get into the lot is awfully slow and congested. I ended up parking at Marilla Park which is only 1.5 miles from McQuain Park. There are tennis courts, a pool and skate ramps there, but parking is abundant and free. Wish I would have gone there first.
Started down by the river off of 19 in Morgantown. There's trail parking by the Jeep dealer. Take the Mon River Trail (which goes right by the parking) and head north (towards downtown Morgantown). You'll come to a circle drive area, to the right is the trail that goes under 119 bridge. First 3 miles is blacktop, after that it's all crushed stone. Once you start on the crushed stone you'll start on the climb of 2% grade pretty much until you get to 13 mile marker. From 13 mile marker to 18 is pretty much flat. Once you get to 18 the grade starts to increase and I'd say the last couple of miles the grade is at least 3% maybe even 4%.
No bathrooms at all, so if you can't get close to nature, then this trail is probably not for you. There really is only 2 other areas for parking and I wouldn't even know how to tell you where they're located at.
Scenic rating...1 to 5 I'm going to give it a 4 but be warned, there are spots that are just trees on either side. The creek/stream doesn't always run by the trail and sometimes it's 100 to 150 ft. below half-hidden by trees. Plenty of rock formations to see, which is a plus in my opinion. Plenty of benches but I don't think I saw a trash can anywhere along the trail.
Wildlife that I saw: 2 deer, 1 ground hog, 1 skunk, plenty of squirrels and a million chipmunks. None of which I could get a photo of. The wildlife was really spooked.
Would I do this trail again, definitely!!! Would like to try it mid-summer so I could swim in some of the waterholes that I saw along the way.
I rate this trail a 4 overall. This trail you should use 26 x 2 or 29 tires, it's probably not a road bike trail. Glad I took the time to pedal this trail it was well worth it.
Another of my go-to trails, lovely walk through Mon County. At times flat and scenic, other times a gradual steepness, but you don't really notice it (unless on a bike).
Especially lovely along the water and can get a bit buggy at times. Friendly cats escort you along the way up near the Delslow entrance.
We really enjoy parts of this trail in the hottest days of summer, it is almost always cooler and in the shade in the Delslow to Masontown area.
Some sketchy parts in the city limits.
Rode this trail a few weeks ago - nice trail. It is uphill for the first 14 miles, and you won't see much of the creek. We were not able to ride the last 5 miles, so I can't comment on that part. It was an enjoyable ride.
This is a well maintained trail. I would recommend you park off Rt. 7 and avoid parking off the trail head in downtown Morgantown. It's less congested and easier to get in and out off. It's uphill till mile marker 14 and it levels out to Reedsville. I would compare the uphill climb like Cumberland to Frostburg. It is a steady incline. The waterfalls start mile marker 7.
Started in Morgantown. Paved but very bumpy till it turns to stone. Uphill till we turned around at mile 10. Gradual climb but never ending. beautiful ride with gorgeous views. would definitely do again when in the area.
Started off the Caperton Trail downtown and explored the 2 miles or so of paved trail that meander through a rather urban landscape. Saw homeless men sleeping under the bridge at Hazel-Ruby Mcwain Park, but in the busyness of the city we felt safe. Passed a nice city park with a walking bridge access, and snaked through the paved jungle of Saberton. Passed a nice little artsy micro-park and then crossed a bridge above the creek which was interestingly strewn with abondoned shopping carts. Shortly thereafter the pavement ended and we turned back (about 4-5 miles round trip). It was an interesting and enjoyable ride
The first 2 miles out of Morgantown is a gradual climb on a paved path with streets and businesses along the way. After that, the trail changes to stone dust and goes up through the woods to the top of the mountain at mile 13, then flatter to mile 19. We turned around at mile 8 since it was a warm day and we were out of water. I was in 2nd gear on my hybrid from mile 3 to mile 8. Did not pedal once on the return. Beautiful scenery along the way as others have noted.
We did this trail on hybrids. The trail from about mile 7-mile 15 has spectacular views. There are no facilities on the trail once you get past mile 3. The climb is a steady climb not challenging.
I rode this trail early September 2014. Parked at Marilla Park and rode across the wooden access bridge to the trail. I first rode left about a mile and ran into the Caperton Trail intersection. Ooops!! I rode Caperton Trail yesterday along with Mon North, South, and Marion County Trail. So turn around and go back! The first few miles were paved and flat. Then...the trail became dirt and gravel but very firm and nice. Oh, did I mention the 12 mile climb? After I had ridden 62 miles yesterday?? lol RUBBER LEGGED, I trudged up the hill!! I think I can, I think I can....shoooo!! The trail finally leveled off at about mile 14 ish. Rode to marker 19 and turned around. The ride back was a nice reward for the big climbing!! Blasted down the hill at about 18 mph effortlessly! Even stopped a few times to take pics of the waterfalls. Loved this trail but next time I won't ride 62 miles the day before "the big climb"!!!!
I was brought to WV for a wedding, so due to restraints I decided to start at the end of the trail and bike into town. The trail was in great shape, well marked and maintained. It took just over an hour to transverse the 19 miles with a few sightseeing stops in between. The WV backdrop along with the cool weather made for an exciting little ride.
We cycled 39.5 miles RT on the Deckers Creek Trail from Morgantown to Reidsville….it was uphill for 19 miles at a 1% grade, but the coming back was fun. The things you see along a bike path!!!!: “But first….first you must travel a long and difficult trail, a trail fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see………a” a cat draped in a miniature tree stalking cyclists….he was sort of hanging from a branch like he thought he was a panther; rhododendrons (reminiscent of the Smokey Mountains); 3’ tall ferns; us being chased by two small dogs who were originally in a fenced yard barking hysterically at us and then suddenly were NOT in the fenced yard (BAD dogs!); giant boulders in a whitewater creek with pretty waterfalls; a tiny dog running down the trail leading a big dog on a leash (for real); a REALLY, REALLY fat man NUDE rummaging around in the back of a red pickup truck while the wife was busy weedeating the yard (in all fairness to the nude man…you really cannot operate a weedeater while nude since it would be unsafe AND all the clothes were hanging on the line so surely he didn’t have a thing to wear). We LOVED the Deckers Creek Trail and put it up there in Our Favorites. Park up the street from Hazel Ruby McQuain Park near Waterfront Jeep and head north on trail to the intersection. Trail is in excellent condition and is beautiful. Very shady. We ride Trek hybrids. We rode to where the sign said "Trail End".
We rode the section from Sturggison Chapel to Masontown. We would have made a longer trip, but we spent so much time photographing all the beautiful waterfalls and scenes along Deckers Creek, we just ran out of time. Smooth surface, beautiful rock outcrops, and numerous waterfalls made this one of the most scenic trails I've ridden. I need to return soon to check out more of this trail system. Highly recommended!
On May 24, 2012 we parked a 20' Roadtrek camper at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park (also the bus station so plenty of activity going on in the parking area) and rode the Decker's Creek section of the trail. We only did 12 miles total, making it 6 miles on Decker's Creek section before turning around. I'm sorry we did not make it to Dave's Snack Shop but sounds like from other postings it would have been worth the extra effort. The trail was shady in a canopy of tall trees but it was a little cloudy that day. This trail starting at Hazel Ruby parking is definitely a gradual uphill that you notice more when you turn around and go screaming back to the riverfront. Then we rode the paved sections around the riverfront. There are some restaurants along the trail if you go south.
Day two of our Morgantown rail trail adventure had my wife and I cycling the Decker Creek Trail. We started at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park. It is 19 miles to the end with a gradual uphill slope the you don't notice much until you're on the way back and are sailing along at 15 mph. The highlight of the trip was the stop at Dave's Snack Shack which is located right beside the trail at MP 9. It broke up the ride and made my wife happy as right acoss the trail Dave has several chairs, a bench and a glider set up under a roofed shelter. His place was stocked with snacks of all sorts including ice cream and m,any different drink products. This turned out to be very welcome as the trail doesn't have any convenience stores or towns close by. One interesting thing he mentioned was that if his shack isn't open he has a doorbell there that rings down at his house just off the trail and he'll come out to serve the cyclists needs. We had a nice rest there and several other cyclists came by and most of them knew Dave.
The trail condition is excellent with a nice crushed stone surface that makes for easy pedaling even with skinny tires. The trail is very senic as you're cycling along a creek almost all the time. There was lots of noise though as large gravel trucks kept up a steady pace along nearby Hwy 7 until we got past the Greer Quarry around MP 10. At the end again there are plans to extend the trail which can only make it better. We rode steady going back with only a quick stop again at Dave's as we were getting tired. Totals for the day were 38 miles ridden with 5.0 hrs of seat time.
"My girlfriend and I just did the stretch from Morgantown up to mile marker #9 where Dave's Snack Shop is located. Dave grew up in the nearby village of Greer and had lots of great history and stories to share. His little snack shop along the trail is a great slice of Americana. He also owns a nearby, long-abandoned, century-old chapel that is easily accesible for viewing right off of the trail. There's also an old, small church and cemetary around mile 7. As for the ride, it was a fun and relatively easy climb up to just about the halfway mark. We spotted several hawks and a hedgehog, which didn't seem to mind us at all. You also pass a farm around mile 6 with plenty of horses and cows. The water was always nearby and the fall WVA weather couldn't have been nicer. We would've went further, but we're on a tight schedule. We'll definitely return to do the full trail and hopefully sample some of the others out of Morgantown. The ride down was very swift as we coasted and lightly peddled around 15-18 mph. Highly recommended."
"I couldn't find the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park on any maps I had, and we didn't see it when we passed by (it is a very narrow strip of land), so we turned south on Hwy 7 and followed it a mile or so until we saw the trail and another park on our right. From the park, we rode up the creek to mile 15, just past the coke ovens near Masontown, and then returned on an easy ride back down the hill into Morgantown.
When we returned, we continued on to the riverfront park. Once there, it was hard to see how we missed it (it is near the intersection of Garrett St. and Don Knotts Blvd, about 3 blocks SW of the Hwy 19 bridge.)
The trail itself is paved in town, then changes to an excellent crushed gravel surface for the rest of the journey. You pass through but are disconnected from the town for a few miles, then the creek dominates your thoughts as you continue past waterfalls and rapids and through beautiful woods. We turned around at mile marker 15, just past the unique abandonded coke ovens. Although it was uphill most of the first 15 miles, it is an easy grade. It just sets you up for a wonderful return."
"Rode this trail all the way. Good uphill ride from mile 4 to 14 and a great downhill to just coast after uphill. Good time in Morgantown, check out Blue Moose cafe for great cappuccino."
"Rode this trail on Sep 28, 2005 from Morgantown to the Dave's Place at the 10 mile marker. Nice stop, built by this gentleman, on the trail with chairs, picnic tables, ice cream, cokes, and great conversation. They take your picture for their album, that they show you. The downhill ride back to Morgantown was great. "
My wife and I rode this trail late April 2002. We started near Reedsville at the CR 56 crossing. We found this starting point from the DeLorme West Virginia Atlas. You can find the gravel road off SR 7 one mile east of Reedsville. The turn south and park near the grade crossing.
Our ride was very relaxing and was almost entirely downhill to Morgantown. Deckers Creek is beautiful with flowing water and several rapids and small falls. Riding in this direction requires very little effort. You will pass an old graveyard and a small old church. There are some old brick coke ovens and an abandoned railroad trestle here. There are plenty of restaurants near the interstate underpass approaching Morgantown.
We parked a second vehicle (a rental) in Morgantown that enabled us to ride one way (downhill). The trail was smooth the whole way. I highly recommended this trail. E-mail me for info on other trails we have ridden. I have also posted pictures along the trail.
"This trail is a real find! It starts off in Morgantown with a very urban/college town feel, then becomes wild and isolated. And beautiful. The 2% climb isn't as bad as it sounds; the surface is one of the best I've seen. You're on a shelf on the mountain following Decker's Creek in all of its whitewater/waterfall glory. When you reach Masontown it levels out, and you'd think you were in Ohio - the farmland at the top is flat and beautiful.
And the 2%? Wait til you head back! Sometimes you don't need wings to fly.
Don't miss it!"
My wife and I rode this trail on the Fourth of July while it was humid and near ninety and we had a fantastic ride. The trail was in very good condition we had no problems doing it on our hybrid bikes.
The nice folks at the kiosk made for a pleasant trip. Be sure to take enough water as it is not readily accesible. We got caught in a thunderstorm on the way down. It was great fun riding down at high speed and not being able to see!
I highly reccomend this trail and all the friendly people of West Virginia.
"It's a good climb and a great workout, but not 1,800 feet. The trail starts at around 840'ASL at Marilla (flat to the Mon Jct) and reaches 1,680'at Cascade hitting about a 2% grade in some areas.
It's basically flat past Masontown, Bretz, and to Reedsville Rt 92. Then it climbs to 1,770' at the trail end at Morgan Mines.
That's about 930' total elevation change. The high point on the old rail grade is where it went under Rt 7 in Manown, about 2,140' downhill to Kingwood from there."
"The ride from Reedsville was enjoyable in several respects. Every section of the trail is in excellent condition. It provides an excellent view of the region that is only possible from a trail. There is a wonderful little booth along the way for conversation and nutrition.
he paved trail through Morgantown along the river is an inner-city delight. From here, there is easy access back to the motel we stayed out. We'll return for more cycling.
Good workout from Morgantown,The trail climbs 1800 ft. in 18 miles. Nice scenery & you can coast most of the way back!"
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