The Caperton Trail passes by an historic train station
If you follow me on twitter, you might now that at the end of March I spent a week in Morgantown, WV. I didn't have a bike there and the only place that rented them wasn't open late enough for me to get one (due to my work schedule and their lying website - I'm sorry but you clearly are NOT open until 8pm on Mondays), but I still got to spend some time on the trails, I just had to run which means I could only see about half a mile of each trail, because I needed to be back at the hotel in about an hour. Ok, I run a little faster than that, but not much.
The trail, with the PRT above
If you've never been, Morgantown - and much of WV in general - is kind of a rail trail paradise. There are two major rail trails that meet in Morgantown. There is one series of trails (but really it can be thought of as one trail) that runs north-south along the Monongahela River and another trail that runs to the east along Decker's Creek. They're both nice trails.
The rutted path of the Mon River Trail South
In town, the Monongahela trail is called the Caperton Trail and outside of the city it becomes the Mon River Trail North or the Mon River Trail South, but they all use the same abandoned rail line. The Mon River is one of those rare rivers that runs north, and it really is disorienting (at least to me it was). The Mon River Trail South is quiet and unpaved. I never saw anyone else on it, but as it came into town it turned into the paved trail going past industrial buildings and a Lock and Dam. Once you get to the edge of downtown, you come to the junction with the Decker's Creek Trail and then through the very nice Riverfront Park. Continuing north, the trail passes beneath the tracks of the PRT, which I admit to joyriding, and then it opens up into more green space closer to the University. The trail system continues north all the way to the Pennsylvania state line and across it to the southern edge of Port Marion, PA. To the south it goes 19 miles to the Marion County Trail (MCTrail).
The MCT starts at the north end with the Meredith tunnel, which is a good bit longer than the Dalecarlia, and ends at Prickett's Fort State Park. At Prickett's Fort there is an abandoned railroad bridge across the river, but it doesn't seem there are any plans to restore it for trail use.
Exiting the Meredith Tunnel
But at 29 miles (plus the nearly 3 mile MCTrail) this is really just a starter trail. Advocates want to extend the trail north another 34 miles to Connelsville, PA and the Great Allegheny Passage. That trail connects to the C&O Trail and thus, Washington, DC. So, someday DC and Morgantown could be on the same trail. The northern extension would also connect to the Cheat Lake Trail.
To the south, there is a proposal to extend the trail along the ROW to downtown Fairmont. Just south of Fairmont, the same railroad ROW is used for the 14.5 mile long West Fork River Trail (which can be reached from the southern end of the MCT via an on-street route). It goes all the way to the south end of Shinnstown, WV. South of that it is again used for the Northern Harrison County Bike and Hike Trail, and then south of that as the Southern Harrison County Bike and Hike Trail with the gap between being the city of Clarksburg. To the west of Clarksburg is the North Bend Rail Trail which goes almost all the way to Ohio.
And there are plans to use all of these trails, and more to create the Industrial Heartland Trail System, which would connect Morgantown to Pittsburg, Cleveland, Akron, Erie and Parkersburg.
The Decker Creek Trail runs 19 miles to the east of Morgantown. The trail is along a stream in a narrow and steep valley, so you really feel like your out of town once you get on it. It also means there are few connections to the trail outside of the west end. But with the narrower stream and the frequent parks (including a trailer park) it's a very different experience from the Caperton's industrial and wide-open feel. There are plans to extend this trail as well. It would be extended from it's current terminus just SW of Reedsville to Kingwood, which is not far from the state line. In Kingwood it would connect with yet another planned rail trail, the West Virginia Northern Rail Trail from Kingwood to Tunnelton, WV, but it would not pass through the 1 mile plus long Kingwood Tunnel that gives Tunnelton its name.
So Morgantown has a access to ~50 miles of rail trail and could one day be part of an interstate network of trails that would be one of the country's most impressive. Not bad.
There are a few things Morgantown is missing, like bike share. With so many trails; a working public transit system; and a large supply of young, broke college students, it seems bike sharing could really improve mobility. And unfortunately they have a mandatory helmet law and city-wide badn on sidewalk cycling. But those are easily fixed.