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Closure Notice: Construction on adjacent highways in Elm Grove may require trail closures in this section through the first half of 2022. Check with the trail manager for the current status.
The Wheeling Heritage Trails are known locally as two trails—the Ohio River Trail and the Wheeling Creek Trail—that run along the old railbeds of two railroads that served the transportation network for this onetime manufacturing center. Together, these paved, flat trails offer a total of 16.5 miles of off-road pleasure. Dozens of interpretive signs along the way treat visitors to self-guided tours featuring area attractions such as historical factory sites on Wheeling’s waterfront.
The Ohio River Trail section is the longest, running for 11.3 miles along the eastern shore of the Ohio River, from 48th and Water Streets in South Wheeling to the Short Creek bridge in the north. Here, it connects seamlessly to the 6.7-mile Brooke Pioneer Trail, which continues north to Wellsburg.
This rail corridor dates to the 1870s, when the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis (PCC & StL) Railroad, known as the Panhandle Rail-road, opened a southern spur from Weirton to Benwood, just south of Wheeling.
Beginning at the southern end, the Ohio River Trail rolls through Wheeling’s historic industrial waterfront. One of the first sites you’ll pass is the former home of the Mail Pouch tobacco company, whose advertising can still be seen fading on thousands of barns throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest. Then there’s the sprawling Centre Market Square Historic District, followed by Heritage Port, a 3-acre riverfront park that’s used for concerts and public celebrations.
The trail passes under the striking Wheeling Suspension Bridge, a National Historic Landmark, and then I-70 as it leaves town and wends north past the Pike Island Lock and Dam in Clearview. You’ll likely see barges heading up and down the river and can watch them progress through the locks. From Clearview, the Ohio River Trail continues along Warwood Avenue/WV 2 to its terminus at Short Creek, where Warwood Avenue intersects Stone Shannon Road.
The other Wheeling Heritage Trail, the Wheeling Creek Trail, inter-sects the Ohio River Trail at the south end of Heritage Port. Following city streets for 0.7 mile, it picks up the corridor of a former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line, called The Pike, that ran from Wheeling to Washington, Pennsylvania, where it connected to a Pittsburgh-bound line.
Considered less urban than its counterpart, the 5-mile Wheeling Creek Trail climbs gently to the scenic Hempfield Viaduct, which was built in 1857 and carries the trail across Wheeling Creek on a high stone-arch bridge. It immediately enters the 470-foot-long Hempfield Tunnel, rebuilt in 1904, which is dimly lit and rumored to be haunted.
The trail emerges near I-70, which it follows until its terminus at Wheeling Skate Park at Community Street near Wheeling Creek in Elm Grove.
There are numerous other access points and parking areas along the entire route; refer to the map for more details.
To get to the starting point from downtown Wheeling, travel north on River Road and look for Pike Island Locks and Dam on the left. The parking lot is in front of the dam. The southern endpoint is located at the intersection of 48th Street and Water Street in downtown Wheeling.
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