Theologically and philosophically informed ecletic ruminations on everything between summit to shore, especially cycling, hiking and backpacking, kayaking, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, poetry, and creative writing by John Edward Harris, a progressive Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Minister of the Word and Sacrament.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Nineteen Miles on the Brooke Pioneer and Wheeling Heritage Trails
Trail Just South of Wellsburg
One of my favorite bicycle rides is a nineteen mile back and
forth route on the paved rail-to-trail Brooke Pioneer Trail and the
northernmost section of the Wheeling Heritage Trail. With ample parking spaces
usually available in the gravel lot just south of Wellsburg and Buffalo Creek
and north of Smith Oil on the river side of WV Route 2, I usually begin the
riding between 6.7 and 6.8 on the Brooke Pioneer Trail and head south.
Ruby Park, 4 ½ miles south between mile markers 2.2and 2.1
offers a small clearing, sitting bench, and one of the cleanest outhouses I
have ever seen. The park is a great place to get off the trail for a rest and stretch break that is at about
the halfway point for a nineteen mile ride from Smith Oil to the Pike Island
Dam and back. I usually lean my bikes up against the post and rail fence while
I walk and stretch. A small mowed trail leads down to the Ohio River to a fishing
spot that offers a water level view of the river and across to Ohio. An access
road from the park leads up to WV Route 2. In the past there has been a trash
receptacle at the Ruby Park but I have sometimes it found it overflowing. The
last time I stopped at the park, however, there was no receptacle. I wish there
was also a picnic table at this park. The Pike Island Dam lies another 4.9
miles south of here.
Ruby Park from the South
2 ½ miles south of Ruby Park I make a seamless transition
from the Brooke Pioneer Trail in Brooke County to the Wheeling Heritage Trail
in Ohio County when I ride across the bridge over Short Creek, which is also
the county line. This is the northernmost terminus of the Wheeling Heritage
Trail, mile 13.83. After crossing the bridge over Short Creek, the Wheeling
Heritage Trail lies traverses an open area offering a sunny ride on clear days
but also a windy ride on blustery days. This section of the Wheeling Heritage
Trail is also closer to four lane Route 2 than any section of the Brooke Pioneer
Trail but I have never felt traffic was a safety issue.
Nine and half miles south of my starting point and located at
mile 8.7 on the Wheeling Heritage Trail, the Pike Island Dam offers a great
place for halfway rest stop. It is offers a paved parking area to access the
trail to ride north toward Wellsburg or south toward Wheeling. A small bike
rack and a bench are situated near the entry gate to the dam. Modern, clean
restrooms, one for men and one for women, are usually open to visitors during
daylight hours. I have sometimes used the sink in the restroom to splash cool
water on my face and neck after a hot, humid summer ride and to refill my water
bottle with fresh, cool potable water. The last time I rode to the dam,
however, the walkway to the restrooms was locked and a sign stated the
restrooms were closed due to a security issue, the security level being “Brown”.
At The Pike Island Dam
The character of this ride changes as the season changes. In
early spring and late fall the view of the river is almost totally
unobstructed. From late spring to early fall, however, trees in leaf and high
weeds can block the view of the river. Various colorful wildflowers and blooming
bushes and trees offer a spectrum of colors other than green from mid-spring to
mid-summer. I have also seen rabbits, groundhogs, geese (sometimes a lot of
geese) and deer on, crossing, or near the trail. During midweek rides I have made this trip
without seeing another person on the trail. On weekends I have seen not only other
riders but in-line skaters and walkers, some with baby carriages.
When I felt like I wanted a longer trip I have continued riding south of the Pike Island Dam for another 8.7 miles to the southern end of the Wheeling Heritage Trail. When I have returned to where I started and want to ride a little longer I have continued my ride north into Wellsburg on the Yankee Trail. While crossing streets and sometimes on streets, the streets of Wellsburg are usually not that busy. Several eating establishments, including Subway, Dairy Queen, the Station Grill, Wendy's, and Pizza Hut are located within sight and just yards from the Yankee Trail. The Crooked Dock, on the banks of the Ohio River, lies just a few blocks west at 12th Street.