By Allen Hamrick
It was a cool day as the sun drifted in and out of the clouds, casting shadows across the river and on the newly opened Elk River Rail to Trail. Its fall, and fall colors are a sweet taste for the soul, an antidote to the pressures of reality. Like most trails this time of year, leaves cover the path and the trees glisten with deep color. The river starts turning the usual deep green of autumn as the PH changes and is also covered in places with fallen leaves. The scene is breath taking for sore eyes that get a little weary with the daily stresses of life. No camera can capture what a person sees with their eyes; your eyes are connected to what makes you who you are. So, each person comes away with a different perspective and a different story of their day on the trail.
A ride or walk from Hartland to Dundon and back, in places, seems as if you are in a storybook. Dundon to Ivydale and back has its own reward as the mountains are laid out just a little different. Ivydale to Duck is equally beautiful with steep cliffs and a plethora of different species of trees that adds to the intensity of colors. Along every inch of it is the Elk River that flows gently through the valleys, exploding with fishing opportunities. Every season has its own beauties, and from the early morning to the evening time changes its face so subtly that often times we pass it without notice.
Unfortunately, the trail will always be shrouded in mystery to most passersby, and the value of its effect on a person’s mental stability is priceless. Maybe the trail is not looked on as a chance to step into a different storybook other than the one you live every day or a chance to see artistic expression from nature itself; maybe it’s just a chance to have a place to exercise. Any way you look at it, whether it’s from an artistic eye, a great place to exercise, or just a way to get away from it all, the Elk River Rail to Trail is a perfect place to be no matter who you are this time of year. It is a truly historic ride or walk, the heartbeat for many years to the county of Clay and the people. Now it offers us a unique opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. If you have not had the chance to take a couple of hours and enjoy it, you owe it to yourself to do so, especially this time of year.