|North Bend Trail|
North Bend Trail carries travelers from
Wolf Summit (just outside of Clarksburg off of I-79) to Parkersburg.
The trail is 72 miles in length, passes through 13 tunnels and crosses
over 36 bridges.
I rode this trail in the summer of 2005 in preparation for my PGH to DC trip and was quite pleased with it. Passing through mostly remote areas, there are occasional small towns sprinkled in here and there. That is a nice feature because it seemed just when I was getting hungry, there was somewhere to eat!
The trail starts of kind slow in Wolf Summit, meaning there is not much to see. Also, there are some parts where the trail is overgrown. After the first 15 miles or so though, the trail becomes much more interesting. This is the part that you start to hit some of the small towns and you start to hit more of a forest area, providing some nice scenery.
As for the 13 tunnels, some are in better shape than others. Some were filled with water, others were in perfect shape, while others had bats in them (read about that later in the description!). Some of the tunnels were bored through the mountains, with no lining. That gives the tunnels that cave look. They all were passable, but if you do plan on riding the whole trail, you may want to wear boots.
One other thing concerning the tunnels; as you approach a tunnel, you will notice the biking to be harder. The reason is that the tunnels are at a higher elevation because you are in the mountains. I know this fact is obvious, just something you do not think of right off the bat. The one nice thing, when you come out of the tunnel, you will find yourself flying along! So if you ride this trail, don't complain about the hard pedaling going into a tunnel, because your treat will be on the other side coming out!!
I was lucky to have some pretty unique experiences on my trip. Besides enjoying some tacos along the way, passing up a Dairy Queen (did not know it was there until after I was full, unfortunately!), and almost running into a skunk (it was dark!), the most awesome thing was to see a wagon train!! There was a group of covered wagons pulled by horses taking a trip. When I say a group, I mean probably about 20 wagons! It was awesome to watch them ride by, and that is just what I did. I pulled up a spot in the shade and watched the parade of wagons. If I ever stop riding my bike on the trails, I may look into the wagon option!!
Once you get to Parkersburg, there is a main road which you can follow into town to get some food and beverage. I needed that since I had rode 72 miles and was contemplating riding another 72 back to my car. Ends up, I rode back 50 to put my days mileage at 122.
It was on the way back that I experienced the bat cave, and in the longest tunnel one the less!! Since it was dark, I needed a flashlight. As I rode through the tunnel, bats would take turns swooping down at me and the light beam. When I got out of the tunnel, I decided that was enough of an experience for one night, so I set up camp.
The next morning it was suppose to be an easy 20 mile ride, and the first 4 miles were.... until I broke my chain. I never had to fix a chain before, but you would be surprised how quickly you learn when you are forced to. The next 16 miles, riding with a shorter chain, I was forced to ride in a lower gear, slowing down my ridding speed. No complaints though, it was only 16 miles.
O think this is a great trail. Some parts near Clarksburg are a little dull, but it picks up. Just look at those first few miles as your warm up! Passing through 13 train tunnels and over 36 bridges (even though they are all small) has all the ingredients for a good trail in my book!!
Points of Interest: 13 tunnels, 36 bridges, North Bend State Park, Parkersburg, Cairo (awesome little town).
Trail Web Site- North Bend Rail Trail
This site was last updated 07/29/06