BUCKHANNON — Upshur County’s trails are becoming a popular mountain biking destination for locals and visitors alike. On behalf of the Upshur County Trails Volunteer Group, Julia Kastner provided an update to County Commissioners last week, pertaining to the trails located at the Upshur County Recreational Park. Kastner also requested permission to begin utilizing the amphitheater area.
According to Kastner, the group has already completed four projects since being awarded a Try This WV mini grant last summer. Kastner explained that they have purchased and planted native plants throughout the trails, installed an archway at the trail entrance, and built and installed a number of trail signs—some of which were caution signs, some were names of the trails, and others were directional. The group reportedly installed between 30-35 signs in November. They also purchased a trail kiosk and new trail map, which was recently completed in December.
Kastner explained the group has also been building new trails. The first was 1/3 of a mile and recently, they have been working on a new section that is recognized on the trail map as a green dotted line. This trail is 9/10 of a mile of new trail but it is in great shape already, Kastner noted. This land was captured through a land lease deal, she reported.
The group previously hosted public trail work days, where they invited volunteers to work on the trails. However, as local COVID-19 cases picked up, they stopped advertising, although they are still working hard on the trails. Kastner reported an estimated 100 volunteer hours over the last couple of weeks while working on that new trail section. The group’s Facebook page titled “Upshur County Trails” has reached over 700 members. During a virtual event that the group hosted in the fall, they had approximately 40 participants.
According to Kastner, people are coming from surrounding counties and states to utilize the trails. She believes there has been an increase in interest for outdoor recreation since the pandemic began, which left many people unable to do things they would maybe traditionally do for fun. This increased popularity and hard work that has been put into the trails is now helping put Upshur on the map as a mountain biking destination, Kastner explained.
Regarding the amphitheater area at the park, the group is looking to utilize the space for a series of progressive drops, for skill building prior to hitting the trails. It will hopefully be an area where various skill levels, ranging from advanced mountain bikers to little kids, can work on their skills to improve and simply to be more comfortable before biking the trail. The goal will be to build three drops—small, medium and large sized. Kastner explained that this is a standard offering for parks that offer biking across the country. The trail group reportedly has funds in hand; therefore, once they receive approval, they’re going to get to work buying and building. Beyond that, Kastner said that they will likely be interested in doing the same style progressive features on other areas of the park. They are even tossing around the idea of a skate park, in the distant future. However, a project of this caliber would require fundraising and grant writing, Kastner added.
Commissioner Nolte expressed appreciation for what the group is doing and noted, “It is amazing how far you’ve come.” He also mentioned, “I’ve had several calls recently about interest in a skate park in Upshur County.”
President Kristie Tenney explained that they would like to contact John McGarrity, Community Development Specialist for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), due to the county utilizing the LWCF grant to develop the recreation park. The Commission made a motion to table the item for two weeks, until they can receive more clarification.
President Tenney addressed Kastner, “Thank you and your group for the work you’ve done to improve Upshur County.” Kastner replied, “I appreciate the opportunity to do this work… We are extremely excited for the opportunity and appreciate your support so much.”
To view updates and photos of the Upshur County Trails, visit their Facebook page “Upshur County Trails.”