FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayette County Commission has given the City of Mount Hope $1,500 toward appraising property for a key section of a growing trail system in the New River Gorge region.

The funds will go toward the cost of appraising a 3-mile section of an abandoned rail line running parallel to Mill Creek. An appraisal of the CSX property needs to be done before the city has hopes of purchasing and annexing the old rail system.

CSX will pay half the appraisal costs.

Active Southern West Virginia is partnering with the city and the New River Gorge Trail alliance to work toward creating a network of recreation trails connecting local municipalities and the national parks, said Andy Davis with Active Southern West Virginia.

The Mount Hope Rail Trail, if CSX land is secured and the project is complete, will connect to world-class mountain biking trails being built on Garden Ground Mountain in the New River Gorge National River and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The White Oak Rail Trail currently terminates in Scarbro, but efforts are being made to connect it to Glen Jean and then Glen Jean to Mount Hope.

Davis said the group has grants out seeking funding to purchase the trail, including the Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant.

The trail is expected to be a soft surface trail suitable for pedestrians and mountain biking.

Davis said engineering students at WVU Tech will design a timber-frame bridge needed to cross Mill Creek.

Dave Hartvigsen, a member of the trail alliance and CEO of Adventures on the Gorges, said the group is making headway in its work to create the trail network.

“Trails help commuters and people out road or mountain biking. This is another important connecting piece, and once complete, it will help attract visitors from others states,” he said.

There already exists between 150 and 200 miles of trail in Fayette County, and 350 miles in the New River Gorge areas of Fayette, Nicholas and Greenbrier.

Once the network is complete, the group expects there to be around 500 miles of mixed-use trails

“This is a business opportunity we are thinking about,” added Steve Jones with New River Trail Alliance. “Our ultimate objective is to help the economy.”

“We have the chance to create a trail system in the East that is second to none,” added Hartvigsen.

The City of Mount Hope and Active Southern West Virginia invite the public to a grand opening of a half-mile fitness trail and outdoor fitness area that will serve as a trail head to the Mount Hope Rail Trail.

The grand opening will be 5 p.m. April 20 at the Mount Hope Heritage Center on High School Drive in Mount Hope.

— Email: splummer@

register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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