The Elk River Trail is a multi-purpose public trail created from the former Elk River Railroad. The trail is virtually flat (one-half percent grade) as it traverses woodlands and rural communities. As such, it is ideal for hiking, running, bicycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, and is quickly becoming increasingly popular for recreation and exercise. The trail is a major draw for residents and tourists.
Running along the Elk River in central WV, the trail has roughly 48.5 miles open for use to hikers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians with boat and fishing access at spots along the way. It currently consists of:
- A 5 mile section from the trailhead located at the Jones Brothers Memorial Bridge in Hartland to the Dundon trailhead
- A 12 mile section from Dundon to Ivydale
- A 10 mile section from Ivydale to Duck
- An81/2 mile section from Duck to Frametown
- A 2.3 mile section from Frametown to Coastal Lumber/Stumbo Road
- A 6.8 mile section from Coastal Lumber to Gassaway
- A3 mile section from Queen Shoals to north Clendenin is now open, with another 2.2 miles through the Town of Clendenin to Reamer under construction
- The remaining 22.7 miles to connect Queen Shoals and Hartland is scheduled for completion in 2023, as is the 18 miles of rails-with-trail running along Buffalo Creek from Dundon to Widen.
The Elk River Trail Foundation (ERTF), which preserves, protects, and enhances the Elk River Trails for public recreation, community health and well-being, conservation, ecology, education, economic development and cultural enrichment, sponsored the first annual Elk River Trail Marathon/Half-Marathon/5K at Dundon, near Clay, on September 18, 2022. This race was scheduled to coincide with the Clay County Golden Delicious Apple Festival which is held annually during the third weekend of September.
In all, ninety-six runners competed. Athletes came from near and far to participate in this event. Thirteen states were represented including West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Arizona. Each participant received a race shirt, finisher medal, digital race pictures, and post-race refreshments.
Awards were given for top male and female runner overall in the marathon and half-marathon, and for top male and female in each of the following age divisions: 1-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+. In the 5K, awards were given for the same categories, with a division added for top male and female in age group 1-12.
The marathon is a 26.2 mile race. Fifteen runners competed in this event. The overall winners were Vicki Bentley-Condit from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia with a time of 4:11:18, and Dustin Anderson from Jenkins, Kentucky with a time of 4:25:43.
A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. Thirty-seven athletes ran this race. Overall winners were Sawyer Dobbins of Clay, West Virginia with a time of 1:31:40 (7:00 pace), and Emily Maddow of Mannington, West Virginia at 1:38:58.
Finally, a5K is a 3.1 mile event. Forty-four participants competed in it. Winners were Marc Radcliff of Elkview, West Virginia with a time of 20:33, and Caitlyn Nelson of Charleston, West Virginia at 24:24.
While some contestants traveled from many miles away, a number of local runners also competed Sunday. In addition to Sawyer Dobbins, Phil Dobbins and Ron Starcher ran the half-marathon, each setting personal records for the 13.1 mile run. Local athletes also had much success in the 5K. Elijah Armes placed first in his age group and second overall with a time of 21:19, Grant Young finished second in his age group and third overall, and Trent Hinkle finished third in his division and placed fifth. Gunner Dobbins, ten years old, won his age group and placed seventh overall. Claudia Vera was the highest local finisher for the females, winning her division and placing eighth. Doug Wayne won his age group and placed ninth. Olivia Witt placed second in her age category and came in tenth overall. Finally, Bridga Stricker won her age group, Ariel Dobbins placed third in hers, and both landed in the top 20. Other local participants included Jerry Salisbury, Stephanie Dobbins, Cassie Patterson (second in her age group) and Donna Salisbury.
The race was organized and operated by Appalachian Timing Group from Huntington, West Virginia. The atmosphere was festive and participants and spectators were excited to be there. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery along the trail next to the Elk River surrounded on each side by woodlands. Ken Tawney, President of the Elk River Trail Foundation, said he was extremely pleased with turnout at this inaugural event and the Foundation looks forward to sponsoring this race for years to come.
(North to South)
|Railroad Milepost Markers on Trail||Distance of Segment from Prior Trailhead (miles)||Distance from Gassaway (miles)||Status as of July 20, 2022|
|Gassaway||21.8||0||0||North end of trail
|Camp Creek -Procious||82.1||14.9||60.3||Under construction|
|Queen Shoals||89.9||7.8||68.1||Completed south to Clendenin North|
|Clendenin North||92.9||3.0||71.1||Completed north to Queen Shoals|
|Clendenin Trailhead||93.9||1.0||72.2||Under construction|
|Brown Street||95.1||1.2||73.3||Under construction; south end of trail|
|Total main trail||73.3|
|Buffalo Creek Rails-With Trails (Dundon to Widen)||18.0||Under construction|
|Middle Creek Spur||0.8||At Hartland Trailhead|
|TOTAL ELK RIVER TRAIL||92|