Rail trails are former railroad corridors that have been converted for hiking & biking. These types of trails often have three tremendous advantages over regular hiking trails.
First, rail trails often contain substantial infrastructure left behind by the railroad companies, like trestle bridges over creeks. These provide easy access to rugged areas of the forest. Second, railroad corridors were built at grades a train could travel which makes for gentle inclines. Third, the corridors are usually very wide which allows multiple hikers and bikers to comfortably use the trail at the same time.
Rail trails in the New River Gorge also provide an important tie between the natural and cultural aspects of this National Park. Walking along any of these rail trails transports you back to days long ago when trains brought miners and their families into the uninhabited Gorge and sent tons of coal back out to the rest of the country.