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West Virginia's West Fork River Trail provides a snapshot of some of the most beautiful scenery in this region. Its official name is the West Fork River Ralph S. Larue Trail in honor of the director of the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission who was responsible for the trail's development. The trail's path was once used by the far-reaching Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to deliver coal. Today's plans however, are to transport people. The eastern portion of the West Fork River Trail through Marion County is paved; its western end in Harrison County has a crushed limestone surface.
Shortly after its start in picturesque Shinnston, the trail reaches the rippling West Fork River and its cliffs and forests. Close to the Harrison and Marion county border, you will pass a historical railroad bridge that spans the river. The trail travels through some wooded passages and then it opens up to a park, where children play baseball and softball and fishermen vie for the prized catch below the dam.
A few miles beyond the park you cross a railroad bridge and return to the wooded haven of the trail. At the town of Norway, you have the option of going another 0.5 mile to a stunning wooden bridge, or you can continue past the bridge to the Mary Lou Retton Youth Park, which offers recreational fields, parking, restrooms and the West Virginia Miners Memorial. Pay close attention for the turnoff for the park: heading toward Fairmont, the turnoff is on the right. After turning off the trail, turn left to reach the park on the paved road (unmarked County Road 56/6), and then take a quick right uphill on unmarked Norway Road through the little town of Norway.
The starting point in Shinnston is accessible from US 19 on the southern end of town. To reach Shinnston from the Shinnston/Saltwell Road Exit off Interstate 79, turn left (west) and proceed 0.25 mile to the gas station. Turn left on Saltwell Road (SR 131) and follow this about 7 miles to US 19 in Shinnston. Turn right on US 19 (Pike Street) and drive 6 blocks. Turn left on Mahlon Street at St. Ann's Catholic Church, before the bridge across the West Fork River. Go 1 block and park on the street. The trail begins under the US 19 bridge.
To reach the northern end in Fairmont your best bet is to actually park in Monongah. In town on the east side of the West Fork River, turn off Bridge Street into the parking lot immediately after the bridge. The trail is right off the lot.
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