Charleston Daily Mail
Article written by:
Charlotte Ferrell Smith
Daily Mail staff
For a natural high, experience the
North Bend Rail Trail by bike, horse or foot.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on this 72-mile stretch meandering through
Wood, Ritchie, Doddridge and Harrison counties. Once a part of the CSX system,
the trail follows an old railroad bed through 13 tunnels and over 36 bridges.
Five tunnels are located within eight miles of Cairo in Ritchie County. Also,
the North Bend Rails to Trails Foundation is in Cairo in the historic bank
Tunnels are a main draw along the nature-laden trail. Legend has it that the
Silver Run Tunnel is haunted. It is said an apparition in a white flowing gown
seen by railroad engineers in the early 1900s sometimes reappears. This tunnel
is No. 19 and is located three miles from Cairo traveling toward Petroleum.
Well-traveled portions such as the area from Cairo to Pennsboro are peppered
with gravel. The trail is more rugged in less traveled areas where riders need
to be on the lookout for unexpected holes and larger rocks.
The adventurous hiker, biker or horseback rider will likely see wildlife along
the way. This time of year, towering trees with outstretched branches shade the
trail, blackberry bushes burst with bloom, fragrant wildflowers flank the path
and plump tadpoles rest in pools of water near tunnels.
The scenic trail is dotted with natural areas, farmland and a variety of small
Travelers should take flashlights for tunnels, drinking water and snacks. As the
trail snakes through towns, there is the option of grabbing lunch at a
restaurant or munchies at a store.
In fact, a new business is sprouting. Happy Trails Cafe in Ellenboro is expected
to open at the end of the month. At this western-themed cafe, proprietors Gary
and Mary Ann Schoeny will cater to trail travelers. There will be parking spots
for bikes and a watering trough and hitching post for horses. The menu will
include wraps, pastries, snacks and drinks created with coffee from 13 different
"Our coffee will warm you...our love will warm your heart," said Mary
Ann, reciting the business motto.
Photo by Tom Hindman
Gary Schoeny works behind
the counter at Happy Trails Cafe.
To check out the progress report for the cafe, go to the Web site
Those who want to travel a good portion of the trail may choose to stay at one
of the bed and breakfasts along the way. Also, North Bend State Park has a lodge
with 29 rooms and eight cabins and a campground. To reach the park, call (304)
643-2931 or (800) CALLWVA. The Web site is
While the trail now includes 72 miles, negotiations are under way with CSX to
add 4.9 miles from Wilsonburg near Wolf Summit to Clarksburg, said Kent
Spellman, executive director of the Ritchie County Economic Development
Authority. The state Department of Transportation has allotted an $80,000 grant,
and $20,000 in matching funds has been raised, Spellman said.
Writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith can be reached at 348-1246.
Tunnel through this unusual