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Three trails comprise the Mon River Rail-Trail System—the Mon River Trail, Caperton Trail, and Deckers Creek Trail, which radiate from Morgantown for 48 miles through former Allegheny Plateau coalfields in north-central West Virginia.
Inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2020, the trails roll past bustling urban settings, remote rural areas, and rusting remnants of the industrial past. Officials credit the rail-trail with boosting tourism, giving locals a recreational outlet, helping to transform Morgantown’s riverfront into an attractive destination, and building support for the restoration of polluted Deckers Creek.
Two of the trails—the Mon River Trail and Caperton Trail—trace the Monongahela River for 29 miles, from the West Virginia–Pennsylvania state line through Morgantown to Prickett’s Fort State Park. The 19-mile Deckers Creek Trail runs along a creek of the same name between Morgantown and Reedsville.
The Mon River and Caperton Trails follow the route of the Fairmont, Morgantown and Pittsburgh Railroad, opened in 1894. Later acquired by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), the route—known as the Pittsburgh Division or Sheepskin Line—hauled coal to Pittsburgh. The Deckers Creek Trail got its start as the Morgantown and Kingwood Railroad in the early 20th century but later became part of the B&O. After both merged into CSX Transportation, they were shut down due to dwindling traffic in the 1990s.
Starting at the 1.7-mile Sheepskin Rail-Trail’s southern terminus at the Pennsylvania border, the compacted-stone Mon River Trail runs south along the wooded riverbank of the Monongahela River for 6.3 miles to Star City, where it meets the Caperton Trail.
The only trail in the system that’s entirely paved, the 5.7-mile Caperton Trail passes the Edith Barill Riverfront Park in Star City, West Virginia University’s Core Arboretum in Morgantown, and the outdoor amphitheater at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, next to the re-stored B&O train depot.
The Decker Creek Trail forks left just after the riverfront park at 3.7 miles, following the Monongahela River tributary on a steady climb into the Allegheny foothills. The first 2.5 miles are paved; the rest is crushed gravel. In a few miles it enters a rocky gorge where the creek noisily rushes over rapids and waterfalls. At Masontown, a restored 1907 coal company building provides restrooms and drinking fountains. The grade flattens, and woods give way to pastures and farmland around Reedsville.
Back in Morgantown, the right fork of the trail network follows the Caperton Trail another 1.5 miles to the southern section of the Mon River Trail. The crushed-stone trail follows the serpentine route of the Monongehela River for 17.3 miles to Prickett’s Fort State Park, a reconstructed frontier stronghold built in 1774.
The trail meets the Marion County Trail (MCTrail), which follows Prickett Creek another 2.4 miles to Fairmont. The trail system is part of the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Corridor, a 240-mile corridor being developed by the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation project to create a 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
Other trails on this corridor route include the North Bend Rail Trail, Harrison North Rail-Trail, West Fork River Trail (see page 221), and MCTrail in West Virginia and the Sheepskin Trail in Pennsylvania.
There are numerous other access points and parking areas along the entire route; refer to the TrailLink map and the individual trail pages for more details.
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