West Virginia University celebrates the opening of new outdoor recreation trails. (Photo courtesy of WVU)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University’s (WVU) Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative is a few steps closer to providing access to hiking trails within a mile of every home in Morgantown.
This week marks the official opening of the first three miles for the new West Run Woods Trail System, a purpose-built, multi-purpose trail project. President Gordon Gee said the new trail system is consistent with the cooperative’s mission to harness the economic and social benefits of nature for the benefit of the entire state.
“Outdoor recreation distinguishes our area from other places where people can live, study and work,” Gee said.
“The goal of West Virginia University Land Grants is to improve the quality of life in our state, and these projects, fueled by a collaborative community spirit, are important drivers for the future of this region.
“You will help our university attract and retain the best faculty, students, staff and healthcare professionals. And they will help all of us who live here to discover the balance at the heart of purposeful living.”
The first phase of the West Run Woods Trail System – a project led by Smith’s Richard Edwards – includes the region’s first gravity-flow trail, allowing riders of all skill levels to learn and do mountain biking in a new way experience.
What is happening at West Run represents the beginning of a larger WVU trail initiative to improve health opportunities for community members, attract and retain talent, improve quality of life and increase tourism, while providing examples of sustainable trail construction and To present research opportunities that support similar efforts across the country.
The City of Morgantown is also involved in Smith OEDC’s trail efforts as they work with Edwards and the International Mountain Biking Association to develop a master plan consistent with the WVU plan.
Also this week, ground was broken for a state-of-the-art action sports and bike park complex at Mylan Park. The facility, funded under the American Rescue Plan through the Economic Development Administration’s Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Grants Program, will be one of the largest of its kind in the eastern United States
This world-class, multi-million dollar facility will embrace all levels of performance and inclusion in outdoor sports and will host large-scale cycling events that will create jobs, boost tourism and be a long-term economic engine for the region.
“The Mylan Park Action Sports and Bike Park Complex supports our vision to position the site as the intersection of sports, tourism and community,” said Ron Justice, President of the Board of the Mylan Park Foundation.
“We are very grateful for the support of EDA, WVU and the Benedum Foundation in our efforts to provide first class facilities for local, regional and national visitors to Mylan Park.”
Looking to the future growth of the outdoor community through trails and cycling, with the generous support of Rad Power Bikes, Monongalia County Schools have added an innovative Project Bike Tech classroom that uses bikes and mechanics to teach academic, technical and mechanical skills teach Prepare students for entry into the world of work and introduce them to small businesses.
Danny Twilley, associate vice president for economic, community and wealth development, said the construction was an outstanding fulfillment of the university’s land grant mission.
“In fulfilling our Land Grant mission to serve our community, we are expanding the region’s vast rock climbing and whitewater resources by focusing in partnership with the city on achieving our goal of providing trail access within a mile from any house in town Morgantown,” Twiley said.
“In conjunction with Mylan Park’s Action Sports and Bike Park Complex and our youth program initiatives, WVU and Morgantown continue to solidify the area as one of the premier places to live, work, play, go to school and do business, all in search of an experience-oriented lifestyle.”
The celebrations and energy surrounding trails and biking in Morgantown continue throughout the week, culminating on October 1 with Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day on the West Run Woods Trail. Kids can take free, professional classes to learn the basics of mountain biking or intermediate-level jumping and pumping, along with lessons in trail building and more.
Check out the full calendar of events.