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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.
The Wheeling Heritage Trails (a combination of the Ohio River Trail and the Wheeling Creek Trail) is a perfect example of why TrailLink should allow half star ratings. This trail is a solid 3.5 stars in my view. We parked at the 5th Street parking area and first rode south. There was excellent, new pavement and plenty of historic interest and the river is nearby with tugboats and barges to observe. After riding to the southern end we came back to the park and headed out on the Wheeling Creek section by the hockey arena. This part knocks down the rating. There is about a mile of street riding. Traffic was light midday on Tuesday but there are almost no markers or signs indicating the trail route. I used a map on my phone for routing. After exiting 17th Street you're back on the trail proper. Two steel bridges and the Hempfield bridge leads you to the tunnel. It's lighted but not very bright. The rest of this section is nicely paved but runs right along I70. There is one road crossing but not bad. After getting back in town we ate lunch on the nice concrete wall by the park and then headed north. This was decent but there is a short section where you ride basically on the berm of Rt 2 with nothing between you and the traffic. After that section you go through Warwood and by the lock and dam. Note that like most of these river trails you will likely encounter a strong headwind at times. There are plenty of benches along the trail but I saw absolutely no restroom facilities. Wheeling has plenty of amenities shortly off the trail. All in it was an enjoyable ride.
The trail was nice but not well marked in downtown Wheeling for a bit. Also goes through some run down neighborhoods. Surface was good, not any bathrooms on the 10 miles we rode.
Only biked 6mi and then the trail is blocked by construction - March 2021
I started at the southern-most part of the trail (48th St & Water St) and rode north. Despite the fact that the trail was paved, there were a lot of cracks and bumps in the pavement. After about 15 minutes I wished I brought my mountain bike rather than my road bike. Once I got through the downtown Wheeling area and north, the pavement smoothed out. I got as far north as Warwood and had to turn around because the weather was beginning to get bad. If you plan on riding this trail, be aware that it is rather bumpy for a road bike with no suspension.
There’s nothing really special about this trail as mentioned by other reviewers. It runs through the urban part of Wheeling and parallels Rt 2 in sections so closely that you almost feel like you’re riding on the shoulder of the road. The other trails in the region such as the Panhandle, Montour, or GAP have more of the scenery and character which we enjoy.
I began at the Elm Grove Trailhead on the Wheeling Creek Trail and continued north on the Ohio River Trail until it was under water from the recent heavy rains. I should have been within just a couple miles of the northern most trailhead as I traveled out 17.5 miles. I did not ride the southern portion of the Ohio River Trail choosing to go back to the car when the Wheeling Creek Trail intersected.
The Hempfield Tunnel and Viaduct are amazing. The tunnel was obviously for a mainline as it is wide enough for two sets of railroad tracks. Obviously a train has not passed through the tunnel in many years as a huge branch has grown over the eastern entrance to the tunnel well above cyclists. The tunnel was built in 1904 and made to last as the interior and the facades are lined with brick. Unfortunately taggers have left their mark with graffiti but it could be worse.
The paved surface is in very good shape considering the winters that it suffers. There were some rough areas in the pavement, but very few and that beats gravel!. The trail is completely flat along the Ohio river and it goes from urban in Downtown Wheeling then back and forth between wilderness and industrial. No complaints over a lack of majestic scenery as the river is always nearby. The Pike Island Lock Complex is intriguing.
I rate it 9 gears (based on a 10 speed cassette)
We were staying at the Ogelbay Resort in WV and took a ride on the Wheeling Heritage Trail which follows a portion of the Ohio River. The trail is ok but if your looking for a scenic trail along a river don't bother. The trail is paved and in decent shape but you see more of the gritty side of old industrial Wheeling than you see of the river. We're from the Pittsburgh area and in my experience the trails here are far superior.
I rode (bicycle) this trail by way of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail (which comes from the North). The majority of the Pioneer Trail's paved surface is in great shape. Wish I could say the same for this trail.
This trail, starting from the Pike Island Locks, is in desperate need of repair. Conservatively, I'd estimate that 75% of this trail is full of large, jarring cracks. And, they come one right after the other. They're the worst right by the locks, but there's miles upon miles of them. They subside once you get close to Wheeling. But, that's the minority of the ride.
If the cracks were filled, I'd give this trail 5 stars. I found the scenery nice, and the trail itself is quite level. However, in it's current state, I don't think I'll be making a return visit.
Went to Elm Grove to get a ride in with two of my Boy Scouts who are working towards their merit badges. Loved the ride! The road markings around WVNCC are somewhat faded and the return route by the Boury Loft project is blocked by construction equipment and debris. Overall, the trail is in good shape. Several signs were defaced and there are no mileage markers on the Elm Grove section, but it was a beautiful day with good company. Did 15.2 miles on an up-and-back route, using Elm Grove as our terminus.
When you go north of the heritage port in Wheeling, the cracks have been paved, and where there was a go around, is now done and you don't have to go around anything trying to figure out how to get back. I wouldn't go past that point before it reopened(would go to the Local grocery before turning around) due to having extra wheels.
The trail is very nice but you need to make sure your tires are fully inflated; there's quite a number of seams /bumps that could cause pinch flats.
Addition to hallsballs0 review: it gets MUCH better further along. You turned around just about the place it gets better. It's true there are cracks, but my view is there are only a few large cracks, and most are small ones. Then about mile 11, it suddenly starts to be smooth. Perhaps a more recent paving. But it's smooth, and while it follows Highway 2 for a bit, there are long stretches where you feel like you're in the woods, because you are. Very quiet and peaceful. There's a rest area with an outhouse and a nice walking path (to stretch my legs) a hundred yards to the river. Seamless transition to the Brooke Pioneer trail, which is also beautiful and woodsy. I didn't finish the Brooke Pioneer trail because I had a time constraint. But I wanted to let hallsballs0 know that the trail does lose the cracks, and is smooth the rest of the way. And I wasn't as bothered by the cracks as s/he was.
I absolutely loved riding this trail! Even though I grew up in Wheeling, I appreciated going through the various sections of Wheeling on my bike. I felt safe the entire trip and it was easy to bike though I am a beginner.
If you're coming from the Pittsburgh area I don't think this trail is worth the drive. I was headed to Wheeling anyway though, so I took my bike along.
I only rode from the beginning of the trail to the ten mile marker and back, but I can't imagine that the rest of the trail would have been much better.
Most of this trail is pretty urban running past factories, run down and abandoned homes and along side of a very busy road. And although it runs along side the river the actual view of the river is obstructed by thick trees for a lot of the ride.
Around the 6-7 mile mark there is a sign that says, trail detour ahead, but when you get "ahead" it doesn't tell you where to go. I followed another rider up the sidewalk of an elementary school, through their parking lot and then onto the road for approx three blocks before cutting back over to the trail. I rode with the rider I had followed through the detour for a few miles and she said the detour has been like that for years now. Crazy!
As far as the trail surface goes, it is technically paved, but it has LARGE cracks across the entire trail approx every 15 feet. So the entire ride is thump-thump, thump-thump from riding over the cracks. It is not suitable for rollerblading whatsoever.
I started in Elm Grove and rode to the river then headed south. I enjoyed the scenery and the history signs along the way. More wildlife than I expected to see, chipmunks, squirrels, a couple ground hogs, 2 blue herons and a hawk. There were a few tree branches down partially blocking the trail but otherwise clear. Some cracks in the asphalt made for some bumpy spots but my mountain bike handled them just fine; they would have been jarring on my old Cannondale. I plan to ride again soon and head north to see that end of the trail. No easily accessible bathrooms along the route I took. No food establishments open Sunday 10am along the route I took and I did ride around the city a bit at the end of the Elm Grove trail portion.
This is a scenic trail along the river...however the trail maintenance is really lacking. The asphalt surface needs the large cracks sealed with tar or repaved. It is difficult to ride this trail when every twenty or so feet you're trying to avoid the large cracks. Also, there is an area not to far from Pike Island L&D (going towards Whlg.) that is developing into a sink hole. In a short time this is going to be a real danger. Sorry, I don't have the exact milepost but its close to the eagle observation signs. And, under the I-70 bridge closer to the town of Wheeling there is a large pothole that if left alone will eventually swallow the front tire of an unsuspecting rider. If you're already aware of these problems then I'm sorry for beating a dead horse . But I probably won't be back because there are tons of other trails to ride. Thanks for listening...
This trail was disappointing. We traveled from the eastern Pennsylvania for a "riding weekend" and anticipated a nice trail with river views.
Right below the dam and locks the surface has 3-inch-wide cracks. That might not be a problem for all terrain bikes, but for roller-blades, skateboards, scooters or Trikkes, it meant I spent more time looking at the asphalt, than at the scenery.
The scenery was disappointing as well. Running right next to the river, I expected it to be nicer. It occurs to me that if the local businesses and civic groups would all "adopt a mile" for beautification the trail could be far more pleasant.
At some points we were riding right next to the highway. While that is unfortunate, it could be overlooked if the rest of the trail was wonderful.
It seems that the region has fallen on hard times but it could become a tourist destination with the right visionaries.
I am glad we came to check out the trail, but sadly, in the current shape it is in, I would not be inclined to plan a return visit.
The main trail along the Ohio River now runs from 48th Street in South Wheeling to Wellsburg WV. A total of 18 miles one way. Totally paved and mostly level. Wheeling has a nice trail system.
This trail wasn't what we expected, being in West Virginia. We were hoping for a more scenic route. We began in downtown Wheeling and worked our way north. There's almost no shade along the way and not much to look at. It also winds around Route 2 and we were literally riding next to fast moving traffic. At the end of this route, we did continue on another trail and it became much more scenic, though we were unable to complete that trail.
We did this ride on a sunny day after driving over from Indianapolis on our way to Mt. Morris PA for the MX race there on Sat. Excellent weather, saw a TON of groundhogs on the ride! The trail starting at 48th Street was well marked with signage regarding food restrooms etc. After leaving the Historic Wheeling area the signage went away. Trail was very well maintained, not many bikers this day though even with the great weather. We had the map with us but forgot that the end point was the locks, we continued on to the Brooke Pioneer Trail but we turned around before the very end as we wasn't sure how many miles that trail was. We ended up doing 35+ miles that day total. Nice hills, great scenery along the river. On the return trip we saw a groundhog and a light colored bunny almost playing with each other. A local fellow rider told us the bunny had been released by someone and was pretty tame. It did not run from us as we approached. Many other groundhogs also stayed near us even when we stopped, one was very close to a lounging cat we saw as well! We did see a small deer, many squirrels, chipmunks and birds. It would be nice for them to mark the end of the trail and mention that the connecting trail is an additional so many miles so out of towners would realize it easier. Overall a very nice trail that I would enjoy riding again.
Wanted to find a flat trail that was paved because of all the rain we've had lately. Noticed this rail trail come up on geocaching.com because of all the new caches placed nearby...so off I headed. This trail was great but I'm sure glad it wasn't too hot today, not much shade along the way! I will be headed back soon to finish the trail with my dog.
I rode the Greater Wheeling trail today and found it to be surprisingly better than I had anticipated. Don't judge the trail by the industrial areas that you drive by to get to it because it is far more scenic. Park at the Pike Island lock and dam, which is located at 40-09.203N and 080-41.881W, and follow the paved trail south toward the I-70 and I-470 bridges. There are particularly nice stretches with great river views including the impressive dam itself. You will likely see several barges working their way upriver as you ride. And what surprised me most was the abundance of deer - they apparently come down out of the hills to drink at the river so have a camera ready. I've ridden over 1,500 miles of rails-to-trails and the Greater Wheeling trail has far better signage than any others that I've ridden. Most of the signs relate the history of the area and of local business and are actually interesting to stop and read. You can continue south through the riverfront area downtown but the signage stops at the I-470 bridge. There isn't much to see south of there although you can ride to the southern terminus at 48th and Water Streets located at 40-02.004N and 080-43.737W. From the dam to this point and back is 15.7 miles. From there you can head over to the Hempfield Viaduct located at 40-04.393N and 080-42.648W. Originally built in 1904 for the B&O railroad, it is certainly a highlight of the trail. Those who continue east will find the eastern terminus near 40-02.813N and 080-39.843W although this is approximate as I didn't ride that far east...I just wanted to see the riverfront and the viaduct. If you just want to see the viaduct, park near 40-03.964N and 080-41.604W as it is only a 5-minute ride from there and would be extremely creepy just after sunset.
Any trail with riverfront scenery, a dam, a tunnel, and great signs deserves at least four stars!
May 7, 2011, GREAT NEWS!! Started a ride North from Wheeling Heritage Port and discovered that I could ride all the was to Wellsburg.. The Brooke Pioneer Trail is now complete. The trail is completely paved and very flat.
i started my ride on the island after crossing the historic suspension bridge i rode the trail from down town wheeling north to beach bottom the paved trail ends but i continued on dirt trail through woods along the river for about 3 miles then picked up a paved trail again and continued north all the way to north as far as it went and it dead ended into a park in wellsburg there was a few jogs on the road but i was able to follow pretty easy i actually think the trail name changed twice but its all the same path and it was a fun ride with lots on places to stop warwood is a nice town i saw historic warwood tool they were painting that day any way after the ride north i traveled south to benwood it got a little smelly by the wheeling water plant but all in all the wheeling bike path is a great ride from 1 end to the other with lots of places to stop i rode this trail several times when i was in town visiting family this was another trail that left me wanting more and i will ride again next time im in town i also recommend this trail to anyone
Riding the Wheeling Heritage trail itself is nice, but watch out if the Wheeling Heritage Port is busy with a festival or an event… The place can be quite bike unfriendly… The main trail along the Ohio river goes right through this Port area, and it’s difficult to get around the Port area when an event is going on. I been stopped by the city Police and told to get off my bike and turn around, not being allowed to continue on while an event was going on at the Heritage Port area. The reason I’m writing this review is because again just recently my friend and I were harassed by event participants for just trying to get through the trail there while an event was going on. I’m personally going to start to avoid this Heritage Port area, and turn around before I get to this problem area.
"This largely straight and flat trail has pleasant views of the ""old Ohio River"" and interesting views of old town Wheeling, WV. The trail goes through town. There are many interesting side stops. It's very safe and clean. There's little or no wildlife."
"Wheeling has a beautiful trail! Wheeling to my surprise was a Beautiful City. The trail takes you thru industrial (but Clean) areas, thru a nice city river front park area & beautiful new & old residential areas - all along the Beautiful Ohio River. The north end of the trail is Pike Island Dam & Locks. You can watch boats & barges go in & out of the locks. A fun few eateries along the way that serve outdoors."
"I've ridden the Wheeling Trail many, many times & enjoy it tremendously. A wonderfully smooth, paved & straight trail that runs along the banks of the Ohio River most of the way. It's an easy trail to walk, blade or ride with only a couple of relatively short grades encountered. If you start at the north access at the Pike Island Lock & Dam it's at most about a 1/2 degree grade downhill the whole way & vice-versa if you start at the southern-most point.
Expect to encounter most trail-type activities(walking, biking,etc.)There are many families that walk & push baby strollers and quite a few seniors walking & biking at a leisurely pace. The people here are friendly - expect eye contact & a smiling nod or greeting when passing someone by. Since this trail runs along the linear edge of Wheeling, it's safe and you are never more than a few hundred yards from a store, restraunt, etc. There are also a few park benches placed along the route to rest & view the scenery."
"I grew up cycling in the Wheeling area during the 70's and it was nice to return home years later to see the city committed to cycling with two trails. You can ride along the bluff overlooking the Ohio River from South Wheeling to Pike Island Dam, where there are restrooms and can watch barge traffic go through the locks. You can add to the 8.5 miles by following the bike lane through Wheeling out 16th Street and follow another trail out Big Wheeling Creek, through the old Rock Point Tunnel and out to Elm Grove and back. Or, you could continue through Elm Grove, out Kruger Street, cross the creek at the bridge, make a left, and you can continue with a beautiful, 8 mile+ road ride out Big Wheeling Creek road to Burches Run Lake, a relatively flat ride along the creek bed that gets somewhat hilly further out. All combined, you can enjoy a 30-mile pleasent ride."
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