Elk River Trail

West Virginia

Elk River Trail Facts

States: West Virginia
Counties: Kanawha
Length: 1.5 miles
Trail end points: Coonskin Park and Barlow Dr.
Trail surfaces: Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017462
Trail activities: Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

With Unlimited:

  • Export to My Trail Guide
  • Create Guidebook
  • Download GPX
  • Download Offline Maps
  • Print Friendly Map
Upgrade Now

Get Your Guidebook!

Support Trails and Pick Your FREE Guidebook Today!

When you make your gift of $35 now just $30 or more to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we’ll be thrilled to send you your choice of one of our 11 great guidebooks—FREE!

Elk River Trail Description

Kanawha County’s Elk River Trail provides access to Coonskin Park, a large park originally built by local residents in the 1950s and now managed by the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission. The trail runs alongside the Elk River for its entire length, although views are largely obscured by dense tree cover.

On the trail’s eastern side, Charleston’s Yeager Airport is hidden from view by a substantial elevation change typical of the scenic region’s topography. Case in point: there is a steep grade where the trail leaves a former rail corridor. While the majority of the Elk River Trail is not a rail-trail, a short section runs parallel to an out-of-service rail line, making it a very short rail-with-trail.

At the trail’s northern end, Coonskin Park offers a playground, golf course, amphitheater, soccer stadium, swimming pool, tennis and volleyball courts, hiking trails and picnic shelters, all nestled within more than a thousand acres of woodlands.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the Elk River Trail is available in Coonskin Park at the Riverside Pavilion. A sign along Coonskin Drive will direct you to turn left to access the trail and parking just south of J.W. Herscher Lake.

Elk River Trail Reviews

We walked it, but consider it suitable for a good bike. I see now where it could serve as an emergency exit from the residential street at one end, as another review mentioned.

It was a really nice scenic walk on a nice fall day.

The Elk River Trail was recently widened to the width of a road due to a landslide at Charleston's Yeager Airport that landed on Keystone Drive. The change provides an emergency exit for residents of Barlow Drive in the case of flooding, or other emergencies.

Some consider it an intrusion into the forest near Coonskin Park, but for bikers and casual hikers, it creates a flat, even walking/riding trail along the Elk River in Charleston, WV.

Here's a link to a recent TV report where you can see some video of the newly widened and gravel covered Elk River Trail:

http://www.wchstv.com/news/features/eyewitness-news/stories/Coonskin-Park-Defending-Decision-To-Widen-Elk-River-Trail-115974.shtml#.VgWpGctViko

I have to disagree with some of the information posted about this trail. I have ridden this trail regularly over the past few years. I will agree that only a small portion of it was originally a rail bed then it splits away. However, the terrain is not particularly difficult for a bike. The only moderate grade is where the trail splits from the rail bed. Out of 5 stars of terrain I'd give it a 2. There does tend to be some muddy areas although the land slip was fixed in 2010 and is completely ridable (sp?). The only drawback is that they laid large rock where the slip was which makes riding a little rough.

They have posted signs at either end stating that you are riding at your own risk. They were posted while the airport was actively extending the runway and the slip occurred. I have not seen any additional activity in 2010 or 2011 but the signs are still there. So, in summary, this is more difficult than a traditional rails-to-trail, but it is pretty easy relative to other bike trails.

Accordion

"This trail is far too steep for wheelchair access, unless the person had a very strong attendant; parts of it are too steep for all but the strongest cyclist. At one point runoff from the airport created so much mud I had to pick up my bike and walk with it. How someone in a wheelchair would have managed it I don't know. Most of the length is too far from the river for fishing, and it seldom, if ever, snows enough here for cross-country skiing.

It isn't really a rail-trail; there is an abandoned rail line that runs more-or-less paralell, much closer to the river, which would make an excellent railtrail, and I believe that there is a movement to create one.

As it is, I'd only recommend this to hikers and very experienced mountain bikers."

"Although it is a good backdoor into Coonskin Park from Charleston, it:
1. Is not a RailTrail. There is an abandoned rail line that follows the Elk River, cuts through Coonskin Park, and then goes on to Clendenin and beyond, but it has not (yet?) been turned into a trail.

2. Portions of it are too steep for all but very strong cyclists. It is NOT wheelchair friendly at all.

3. Construction from the adjacent airport has damaged portions of the trail. For example, runoff at one place created a mudhole that made it impassible by bicyle; I had to pick up my bike and wade across. What someone in a wheelchair, or a cyclist with less upper-body strength than I would do, I don't know, besides turn around and go back.

I have heard that the airport people are going to fix the trail, but I'm not holding my breath.

(There is talk of turning a portion of the abandoned rail line into a trail. I hope it goes through.)"

but it doesn't GO anywhere!

Trail Events

This trail does not have any events yet.
Be the first to add one!

Add an Event

Nearby Trails

Hawks Nest Rail Trail

West Virginia - 1.8 miles

The Hawks Nest Rail Trail is located primarily within Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted. The trail is nearly 2 miles long and runs on the south side...

White Oak Rail Trail (WV)

West Virginia - 7.9 miles

The White Oak Rail Trail runs for nearly 8 miles through the central West Virginia city of Oak Hill, connecting the communities of Summerlee and...

Kaymoor Trail

West Virginia - 8.6 miles

The Kaymoor Trail runs parallel to the New River between Fayetteville and Cunard in the National Park Service’s New River Gorge National River. Much...

Accordion

Keeneys Creek Trail

West Virginia - 6.6 miles

Located in the gorgeous New River Gorge in rural West Virginia, the Keeneys Creek Trail is a gravel trail that doubles as a road for park service...

Rend Trail (Thurmond-Minden Trail)

West Virginia - 3.2 miles

Note: Portions of the Rend Trail are closed due to a bridge repair. The trail is closed 1.27 miles in from the Minden trailhead or 1.96 miles in from...

Brooklyn to Southside Junction

West Virginia - 6 miles

As it weaves past long-abandoned mining towns such as Red Ash and Rush Run, the Brooklyn to Southside Junction Trail tells the unique story of "King...

Narrow Gauge Trail (WV)

West Virginia - 3 miles

The Narrow Gauge Trail in Babcock State Park follows the gentle grade of what was the Manns Creek Railway, which connected Clifftop to Sewell, until...

Gallia County Hike & Bike Trail

Ohio - 8.5 miles

The Gallia County Hike & Bike Trail follows an old railroad right-of-way between Bidwell and Gallipolis, at the Ohio River. Though are plans to...

Lewis McManus Memorial Honor Trail

West Virginia - 4.1 miles

The Lewis McManus Memorial Honor Trail, also known as the Beckley Rail Trail, travels from Mabscott, through the heart of Beckley, north to the...

Glade Creek Trail

West Virginia - 6 miles

Situated in the heart of West Virginia's pristine New River Gorge National River, the Glade Creek Trail (out-and-back only) has something for...

Cranberry Tri-Rivers Rail Trail

West Virginia - 16 miles

The Cranberry Tri-Rivers Rail-Trail, also called the Cranberry Rail-Trail, is named for the Cranberry, Cherry and Gauley rivers it travels along or...

North Bend Rail Trail

West Virginia - 72 miles

The North Bend Rail Trail offers a scenic experience with splendid railroad elements and welcoming trail towns to be enjoyed. Stretching nearly 72...

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews
OR

Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and more!
OR