Gloomy, rainy conditions couldn't dim the smiles or lessen the enthusiasm of individuals who gathered Saturday to help christen Wolf Creek Trails.
Saturday was a day for "celebrating our trail community," Gabriel Peña, the Fayette County resource coordinator, said prior to the ribbon being cut on Wolf Creek Trails during a morning ceremony at the Guy Dooley Trail parking lot on Nick Rahall Greenway in Wolf Creek Park.
Wolf Creek Trails is made possible through partnerships and contributions of the Fayette Trail Coalition, the Fayette County Resource Coordinator's Office, the Fayette County Commission and the New River Gorge Trail Alliance.
"We can't say enough about the effort that has gone into building this trail system here at Wolf Creek Park," Peña said. While financial support from the county commission and planning support from local trails organizations was crucial, Peña also praised the community effort and "all the volunteer hours that have gone into making this happen.
"This is truly a grassroots effort that we celebrate here today."
In a press release from Peña ahead of the ceremony, the development of Wolf Creek Trails as single-track hiking, running and biking trails not only offers new recreational opportunities in the area but is also part of a concerted effort to diversify the local economy.
Jeff Proctor, chair of the Fayette County URA, praised "the vision and wisdom of the county commission" for creating Wolf Creek Park and the Fayette County URA in the mid-2000s with an eye toward expanding opportunities in the county and region. He thanked "our community, the commission, our URA team and all of the folks that have put all the time in it."
Wolf Creek Park is a 1,000-acre mixed-use planned development located between Oak Hill and Fayetteville. Specific areas of the park are designated for commercial development, residential development, environmental education and recreation.
According to Peña, over 17 miles of trails have been constructed and, as of Saturday, are officially open to the public at Wolf Creek Park, with another 20-plus miles of trails "in the works."
He said earlier this week the trails, built by contractor S.C. Resources, are "already seeing a great deal of traffic."
Those interested in following trail developments can do so at https://www.facebook.com/groups/308386973477127.
"Never let it be said that a few good people cannot change the world, because indeed they have," said Fayette County Commissioner Denise Scalph. "Through your vision, passion, planning and hard work, you have created and developed a trail system that people will enjoy for many years.
"Your dedication has certainly made a difference and changed our world in this county. Your dreams have become a reality and we are here today to celebrate the awesome success through the partnerships and contributions of the New River Gorge Trails Alliance, the Fayette County Resource Coordinator's Office, (Fayette) Trail Coalition, volunteers and Fayette County Commission. I applaud you and congratulate you on the official opening of the Wolf Creek Park Trails."
Some of the trails feature names pertinent to the time or place of construction, Peña noted. Corona is named for the coronavirus, and Brood IX gets its name from a brood of cicadas which flooded the woods as trail construction started. Also, Warbler Trail is a nod to the migratory birds that flock to Fayette County each spring, and Moonshine Hollow refers to local terminology of the Wolf Creek Park area.
The current Fayette County URA roster includes Proctor, vice chair Gene Kistler, secretary Will Thornton and fellow members Matt Wender, Kim Maxwell, Mike Smith and John Brenemen.
Kistler, Andy Forron and Sam Chaber, all whom took part in Saturday's event, are founding members of the recently-launched Fayette Trail Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to development of soft surface hiking, running and biking trails in Fayette County.
Saturday's other activities featured a scavenger hunt and trick-or-treating.
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