West Virginia’s rail trails have seen an increase in activity throughout the past two years as people have taken to the outdoors for their mental health needs during the pandemic.
As Lisa M. Carlson, president of the American Public Health Association, has said: “It’s good medicine, and time with nature doesn’t require a prescription.”
Rail trails also provide a way to combine fitness with a fun outdoor activity. West Virginia has 67 rail trails with 566 miles of open rail and logging trails, with more in development.
“Rail trails were originally railroad corridors and are perfect for multi-use trails because the terrains are flat or gently sloped and often connect communities and industries,” said Ella Belling, West Virginia Rails to Trails Council president. “They are generally wide enough to accommodate hiking, biking, horse-riding and cross-country skiing, so they are ideal for year-round recreation use.”