FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The Tri-State has a fertile history stretching back hundreds of years and there is a beautiful area where you can learn more while having a great workout and taking in beautiful scenery.
44 miles – that’s almost the distance from Huntington to Charleston on I-64.
But in the eastern counties of Kanawha, Fayette, and Raleigh, the Paint Creek Scenic Trail is a little-known designated scenic trail for the outdoor adventure that awaits!
“Hiking, biking, of course we have Plum Orchard Lake here so you have your hunting and fishing there. Everything stretches from Tamarack to Pratt. So any of those places you can stop you can get a little history lesson, ”said William Hughes, mayor of Pax in Fayette County.
The Paint Creek Scenic Trail is a paved trail designed for biking, but it’s also available for serene hikes, fishing, swimming, and more. The options are almost endless for outdoor adventures. The best part – it’s completely free!
On the trail there are many historical markers. These tags allow you to discover the rich history of the region.
The Scenic Trail begins in Tamarack, County Raleigh and ends at the intersection of Paint Creek and Highway 61 near Pratt.
You can also access the trail from five exits on the West Virginia Turnpike: Exits 45, 54, 60, 66, and 74, making accessibility even easier.
Although the traffic on most of the trail is very minimal, if you prefer gravel instead of pavement there is a LARGE gravel branch that separates from the paved trail. My photographer, Mike Magee, and I rode a few of these gravel roads on our bikes and really enjoyed them too!
This region was once booming with coal mining in the early 20th century. Several important historical moments and events have occurred in this region, including the West Virginia mine wars with the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek strikes over 100 years ago.
Mayor Hughes’ roots run deep in this region. His father was one of many who sought to keep history alive here and develop interest in this area.
Mayor Hughes provided the photo below, which shows two very important people in the development of the scenic trail that visitors see today. Jim Reed is pictured at left, with the Lower Paint Creek Watershed Association and his father, Mayor Hughes, at right, who represented the Upper Paint Creek Water Shed Association.
These are two of the many men who were instrumental in the development of the Paint Creek Scenic Trail. According to Mayor Hughes, another very important figure, Jim Reed, said of this photo: “This photo represents a major project for the Parkways Authority to make a rule change approved by the Secretary of State’s office. The new rule allowed the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Association to install coal heritage interpretive signs at Tamarack and various sites at major exits along the WV Turnpike.
Once on the trail, you will see intriguing structures from the past, beautiful Paint Creek including waterfalls and more.
The trail offers different levels of difficulty for hikers and cyclists. And the ease of accessibility also allows people to complete short segments at a time.
For an in-depth overview of the bike ride, including an elevation profile and features to look out for while riding, check out this fantastic link from Cycling Scenic WV.
A note for those who cycle: in general, if you are traveling north on the trail, it is mostly downhill. If you are traveling south it is mostly uphill. In total there is a drop in elevation of about 2,500 feet for the duration of the trail.
“From Tamarack to Pratt, it’s definitely a descent. The return will be a real challenge as there are quite a few steep inclines that you will have to climb – some of them are quite long. For enthusiasts who like to cycle, it’s a good challenge for them, ”notes Mayor Hughes.
If you’re exhausted with all the hiking, biking possibilities – you might go swimming or fishing – you can head to Westerly, in western Fayette County, along the Scenic Trail to discover a place. picnic area at Westerly Falls. Also known as Paint Creek Falls, it is a beautiful and serene place that is sure to let you relax.
If you want to learn more about Westerly Fall, you can check out detailed information and several photos of the waterfall here.
The mayor hopes to revive the past of this region, with a historical museum he plans to complete where the meetings of the municipal commission of Pax are currently held.
“I think, you know, recognizing our past is extremely important. And above all the coal heritage that we have in this region, ”explains Mayor Hughes.
If you plan to ride a bike, don’t forget to stay alert for drivers! Although traffic is fairly minimal on the majority of the trail, an occasional car is still possible. Don’t forget to wear your helmet!
Plus, there is a neat audio tour called ‘The Driving Tour’ which you can listen to while riding a bike! It can be found online at Paint Creek Scenic Trail website! Plus, you view photos of the landscape there, as well as take a closer look at some of the people who have extensive knowledge of the area to learn more about the region’s rich history.