It was recently announced that the proposed Monday Lick Trail system received a $1.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization [ARC POWER] Initiative.
This award comes just 10 months after the project was identified as a priority in the gap analysis produced by the International Mountain Biking Association. The analysis was created to identify what additions or changes need to be made in Pocahontas County in order for the Snowshoe Highlands Area Ride Center to go from being Silver to a Gold Ride Center.
Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cara Rose said the grant is a big push in the right direction not only for the Monday Lick Trail system, but the ride center and county as a whole.
“This is the first ARC POWER grant that they have fully funded for a trail construction project,” she said. “They have funded some partial trail projects, but this is the first full project, and I think the key elements to success have been that number one, we have a wonderful working group through SHARC and we’ve had a plan – we’ve had a common goal and vision – from day one.
“For five years, we’ve been working toward it, and it also speaks to connecting trails to communities, which is really vital for that recreational economy impact,” she added.
Now that the funding is in line, the project can begin with the bid process. While the project is under construction, there will be other smaller projects taking place to reach the goal of becoming a Gold Ride Center by 2025.
“We have a few other priorities that we have to complete,” Rose said. “One of them, the other larger piece to this accomplishment, will be to implement a broad signage project throughout the county – way finding, trailheads, etc. and we are working toward that.
“We have the initial steps in place and then hopefully, we’ll be able to fund the implementation of that in the next couple of years,” she continued. “We have a couple of years, but we hope that Monday Lick can be completed by the end of 2024. We’re just now getting into the work part, trying to learn how we proceed with that.”
Monday Lick is located two miles outside of Marlinton, near Stillwell Park and Jim C. Hamer Lumber Company. The trail system will include 26 miles of beginner, intermediate and expert level trails.
“It will be twenty-six miles,” Rose said. “If you think about that in relationship to distance – it dawned on me a couple weeks ago – that will be like riding your bike from Marlinton to The Village at Snowshoe. If you can relate that into trail miles, that’s a lot of trail. It’s an enormous amount of trail, and it will be two miles outside of the town of Marlinton.”
The trails will be designed in loops, so the beginner trails will be the outer loops, and as they work their way in, that’s where the more difficult and higher level trails will be.
“What that does is it allows the beginner mountain biker to start in the lower loops and progress to the higher loops until they get to the top of the mountain,” Rose said. “One of the key features that will really make this an appealing destination is the Gravity Trail that will be part of this. People will be able to shuttle to the top of the mountain and ride the entire way down, weaving through a set of trails – that’s exciting for that mountain biker who’s looking for that adventure, that thrill.”
The town of Marlinton will be the trailhead for the Monday Lick Trail system, and is already the trailhead of the Greenbrier River Trail. There are other mountain biking related projects coming to Marlinton, including a mountain bike park at Stillwell and the Overlook Trail which Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation has received funding to build.
“We have that wonderful, already in place, trail connection which makes Marlinton the perfect trail town,” Rose said. “When you think of trail towns, you might think of places like Bentonville, Arkansas, Asheville, North Carolina, – places like that – and Marlinton really can be that model community for the state of West Virginia, and that’s exciting.”