For many years there has been discussion about how to better utilize the Elk River for tourism and economic development. Recently the Braxton County CVB participated in submitting an application to have the Elk River, from its headwaters to Charleston declared a Water Trail. Such designation makes potential funding available to improve access points to the river and promote its recreational use. The Braxton County Development Authority is sponsoring a complementary effort to explore how the former rail line from Sutton to Gassaway could be used as a hiking and biking trail. Preliminary design work has been undertaken between Route 4 at Gassaway to Route 19/40 at Sutton, WV. This covers a length of approximately 5.8 miles.
The proposed trail would consist of developing a 10 foot wide walkway along the old railroad grade by regrading the existing roadbed and constructing a 10 foot wide gravel walkway. The walkway would cross two (2) old railroad bridges, which are currently being used for foot traffic that can be re-planked with hand rails installed. Bollards can be installed at the road crossings and end of walkways to prohibit 4 wheeler accesses.
This proposed trail will result in: 1) more people coming to the county to hike, bike, and with better access, use the river to fish and recreate; 2) development and expansion of small businesses to support the increased number of visitors using the river including outfitters, restaurants, and convenience stores.
All of this directly compliments the BCDA’s strategic plan goal to develop and market the county as a tourism destination by expanding recreational amenities.