- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Volunteers are working to complete the last 30 miles of West Virginia’s 330-mile Allegheny Trail, a hiking pathway that runs from the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border near Bruceton Mills to a junction with the Appalachian Trail in Monroe County.

The West Virginia Scenic Trails Association has been working on the trail since the hiking group was created in 1974.

“We have all but about 30 miles done now, most of it in Alleghany and Craig counties in Virginia,” Brian Hirt, president of the association, told the Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1dFoPcr ).

The trail uses public lands wherever possible. It also crosses several private tracts, with owners’ permission, and follows less-traveled country roads between trail links. Association volunteers monitor and maintain each of the trail’s four sections.

Hirt and 10 other association members recently marked a prospective route for the trail’s remaining segment on U.S. Forest Service land on the Virginia slope of Peters Mountain between Sweet Springs and Paint Bank, Va.

“After we mark a trail route through the national forest land, people from the Forest Service check our route and make any changes they feel are needed before approving it,” Doug Wood, trail coordinator for the trail’s southernmost section, told the newspaper.

He said it likely will be up to the association to build the trail to Forest Service specifications.

A mile-long section of the trail in Monroe County is the most heavily traveled. It runs from Limestone Road atop Peters Mountain to Hanging Rock Tower, a former forest fire lookout that’s now mainly used by birders to monitor the annual migrations of hawks, eagles and other birds of prey.

Hirt estimated that 50 to 100 through-hikers travel the length of the Allegheny Trail annually.

One reason for the trail’s development was to provide an option for long-distance hikers who don’t have the time and resources to hike the Appalachian trail.

“I think the Allegheny Trail gives hikers more of a natural experience and a better chance to see wildlife,” Hirt said.

The association has planned several activities this year to celebrate its and the trail’s 40th anniversary. They include public hikes and a “Spring the Trail” maintenance weekend May 16-18 on a segment along Glady Creek in Randolph County.

“While several of these events are labeled work hikes,” Hirt said, “they are also an excuse to get out and visit scenic areas and enjoy nature, while improving the trail.”

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Online:

West Virginia Scene Trails Association: www.wvscenictrails.org

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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