Sixteen newly-constructed biking and hiking paths that will connect the downtown campus to WVU’s Organic Research Farm will open April 29.
“I see this trail as a great opportunity to develop hiking and biking routes through a relatively wild natural area hidden away in the center of Morgantown,” said Professor Jim Kotcon, a volunteer crew leader. “It helps connect the WVU Organic Research Farm to the rest of campus, and provides both recreation and education on environmental sustainability.”
The 16 trails include 11 access points as well as ADA-accessible trails and more challenging routes.
WVU purchased property in the Falling Run valley in 2012 that contained 94 acres from the downtown campus to the WVU farm off of Route 705. In 2014, the trail was designed by Vaike Haas, a WVU landscape architecture professor, and much of the construction was done by volunteers.
Tools and materials were provided by WVU; volunteers were comprised of faculty, staff, students and local residents who prepared the initial trail routes.
Kotcon said the project gained a “big boost” in Fall 2016, when WVU administrators adopted the trail developments as part of a service activity for incoming freshman.
“It is really unique and rare that you can create a project that combines the efforts of academic and administrative units, with the real difference being made by students,” said Project Manager Julie Robison. “This is what I hope will always be remembered about the Falling Run Trail project.”
Robison called the area the last undeveloped parcel in Morgantown.
“To me, this project is an opportunity for students to leave a legacy on campus,” said sophomore Allison Chambers, an intern on the project. “Years from now these trails will be here, and I will have the chance to say I have seen the project progress from the beginning stages.”
Volunteers are still needed to help clear brush, cut trail bed, develop crossings for wet areas, lay mulch and other activities.
“This is a great outdoor activity where you can get some fresh air, be inspired by an incredibly beautiful natural setting, and hopefully make some friends along the way,” Robison said. “This is a place where students can come back time and again, and know they helped to build something new.”
Students interested in volunteering can sign up on iServe for weekend shifts between 9 a.m. to noon or noon to 3 p.m. They are advised to wear old clothes and shoes or boots.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 3:30 p.m. April 29 at the Outlook Street trailhead off of College Avenue.