The Heart of the Highlands Trail System project will connect the non-motorized, multi-use trail systems of five land management agencies in Tucker County, West Virginia into a comprehensive, landscape oriented, environmentally sustainable, multi-use trail system that is accessible to the public. This trail system will combine recreational trails with alternative transportation routes within Tucker County and will further enhance the area’s recreation and economic possibilities. The long-term goal is to connect the Heart of the Highlands Trail System to the surrounding regional and national recreational trail systems.
The first phase of the Heart of the Highlands Trail System is a 20+ mile core loop that will connect the partner properties: Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Canaan Valley State Park, Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area, Monongahela National Forest, and National Youth Science Foundation. Connecting trail segments will be established and existing trails improved to create the core loop and link the public lands in and around Canaan Valley to each other and to the Town of Davis. Private property partnerships will also be considered to connect and open trails to the public. Over half of this core loop trail is already on the ground as existing trails.
Base funding of $500,000 was secured through a grant agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Tucker Community Foundation serves as our fiscal agent and the project is directed by the Heart of the Highlands Board of Directors including representatives from partner properties, Tucker County Trails, and community members. A project administrator was hired in 2011. New trail construction was initiated on the Splash Dam South Trail connector in fall 2010 and completed in July 2012 with funding awarded through the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) Recreational Trails Program (RTP). This trail provides the connecting trail segment from Davis through Canaan Valley Institute (now Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area) and National Youth Science Foundation properties to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge property near the Camp 70 bridge – all on the south side of the Blackwater River. Additional funding for materials has been secured through United State Forest Service’s Title II Secure Rural Schools.
As of 2019, we are working to connect our proposed Headwaters Trail on the Canaan Valley State Park that will connect Middle Mountain Trail (part of the statewide Allegheny Trail) with the new Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. We were granted approval from WVDNR to proceed with the Headwaters Trail, pending some contingencies which we are working to fulfill. We are confident that we can achieve the required contingencies and proceed to working on the design for the trail. Read more on our News page.