The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
There's no wrong way to travel through West Virginia. Even the interstate has incredible views of the diverse scenery that's rich in history. The Paint Creek Scenic Trail, though, is far beyond a regular West Virginia road.
At 44 miles, this byway is the perfect road ride to get a taste of the state by bicycle. Start at Tamarack for a consistent downhill ride to Pratt (or, for more of a challenge, start in the south for a steady climb north.) Depending on which way you go, you'll either have plenty of energy to stop or plenty of reasons to take a rest at the historical areas along the route.
The Paint Creek Scenic Trail gets its name from the Native American practice of painting on trees to mark important events. Beaver trade that was a major industry for native peoples in the area, and Paint Creek was the battleground for the Beaver Wars in the 1600s, wars between tribes and other significant wars between European settlers and Native Americans, which were recorded on the trees around the region.
In the early 1900s, there was extensive mining in the area, too. A union worker strike against unfair practices resulted in the historic Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike from 1912-1913. Many of the families who live here today have roots that dig deep into the region's past, with relatives who worked for the mines.
Exploring the Trail
But the Paint Creek Scenic Trail in West Virginia is more than just a history lesson. While you’re cruising through the 44 miles of small West Virginia towns, look for the vibrant wildflowers that grow along the road, and waterfalls and rapids along the creek. If you get hot during your trek, simply stop and join the locals for a swim.
The Lower Paint Creek Watershed Association, Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association and other grassroots organizations have worked together to maintain this beautiful stretch of land, which is full of fish and wildlife. So, if you do peel off the road for a dip in the creek, be ready to share the water with a trout or two.
Cycling the trail
The road is a favorite for road-riding cyclists, with smooth pavement and lots of interesting turns through diverse forest and country terrain. Jump on the trail from one of several exits off the West Virginia Turnpike to enjoy this alternate route between Beckley and Charleston. There are plenty of amenities along the way, so take a weekend to ride the whole road and enjoy a variety of activities— fishing, kayaking, and hiking— and then stop in one of the towns along the way to refuel and rest up before another day of riding.
Be sure to download the Paint Creek Trail app before you go. Although it’s technically a driving tour, it’s also a perfect companion for a bike ride. Listen to the audio while you stop to appreciate the scenery. Broken into 5-6 minute interviews, the driving tour app will make you want to ride the Paint Creek Scenic Trail in both directions, just to make sure you took it all in.
Explore the Paint Creek Scenic Trail.
Originally written for West Virginia .