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Closure notice: As of June 2023, a short section is closed between Gassaway and Frametown due to mounds of dirt remaining on the trail from recent work being done on this section. It's removal is expected imminently, but the exact timeframe is unknown.
Running through Braxton, Clay and Kanawha counties, the trail meanders 57.2 miles along the Elk River. Portions of the trail are still under construction and when finished it will be 73.3 miles with an additional 18-mile section running along Buffalo Creek.
The northern end of the crushed stone trail starts by the intersection of the Route 4 bridge and River Road in southern Gassaway. The trail follows the river south 45.4 miles to trailheads at Frametown, Coastal Lumber, Strange Creek, Duck, Ivydale, Dundon, and Hartland. In Duck, the trailhead doubles as a river access point for kayaks and other water vessels. From Duck, it winds its way down through acres of woodlands along a former railroad bed. While the trail runs alongside the Elk River for its entire length, views are largely obscured by dense tree cover.
The 22-mile section from Hartland to Queen Shoals is under construction, but another four-mile section is open from the Queen Shoals Trailhead to the Clendenin Trailhead, with a one-mile section paved from the Clendenin Trailhead north.
The very flat (1/2% grade) trail runs alongside the Elk River for its entire length through otherwise mountainous, rugged, beautiful terrain, with trail users often spotting an abundant range of wildlife ranging from deer and bears to bobcats, foxes, rabbits and squirrels, and birds, including eagles, wild turkeys, and several varieties of owls, ducks and hawks. Many of the trailheads double as a river access point for kayaks and other water vessels.
The Elk River Trail is open for use by walkers, hikers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders. Class 1 e-bikes are also allowed. There are exercise stations along the three-mile section trail downstream from Dundon for an extra work out for trail users.
An additional 18-mile trail runs parallel to a rail track along Buffalo Creek in Clay County from the Dundon Trailhead to Widen. The section is expected to reopen its rail rides in the spring of 2023, featuring a jitney pulling open-air carts.
Parking is available at a number of points along the trail. Locations include a parking lot at the intersection of Bridge Rd and Frametown-Herold Rd (Frametown), the Duck Public Access Point on Villanova Ridge Road (Duck) where there are 15 spots on the gravel lot, and the Ivydale Trailhead is located 9.8 miles south of Duck. The Dundon Trailhead is located just south of the Triplett Ridge Way/CR 11 & Buffalo Creek Road. This trailhead has plenty of parking and easy trail access. View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
My wife and I started from Gassaway through Duck. Unfortunately the Gassaway section to Frametown was not open. We met the Park Superintendent (Heath Cliver) on the trail and the State has just taken over the closed Gassaway portion. The dog issue outside of Duck mentioned earlier on this site has been eliminated. The plans call for continued resurfacing and more benches. The plans outlined by the Super were very positive. The trail is still in very good condition and the future is very bright for Elk River.
Nice trail. Did not like being chased by dogs. The Clendenin section. People were very nice!
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.
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.
We just stopped for a quick ride from Duck to Groves Creek to check out the trail on our way to Elkins. We loved what we experienced on this end of the trail! I can only imagine how gorgeous it will be in 3-4 weeks when the leaves change! We will be back to do a much longer ride! It’s a new trail so not much signage or amenities but I am sure that is planned in the future. Oh and lots of parking places at Duck and it’s a quick trip off of I-79!
This is a great trail for anyone and everyone. It follows Elk River, it's peaceful, scenic, quiet, lots of wildlife to see and plants to identify.
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