Mount Hope – July Community of the Month

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so does the city of Mount Hope, West Virginia. Mount Hope is one of many coal impacted communities in southern West Virginia working to improve the quality of life for their decreasing populations while pivoting their economy. Active living assets and opportunities are strategies this city has set as a priority and Active Southern West Virginia is proud to be a partner in this important work.

Dunloup Creek Trails (formally called Mount Hope Rail Trail) – current project!

In 2016 local organizations, including The City of Mount Hope, Active Southern West Virginia, National Coal Heritage Area Authority, New River Gorge Trail Alliance, West Virginia Land Trust, Rails to Trails Conservancy, West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, United States Environmental Protection Agency, & National Park Service – Recreation, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program, began designing the Mount Hope Rail Trail Project to link the city of Mount Hope to nearby neighborhoods, the Summit Bechtel Reserve, and the New River Gorge National River at Garden Grounds.

The Trail will connect Mount Hope to the Mill Creek neighborhood and provide an off-road alternative for residents to access the town by foot or by bike. Additionally, it will connect Mount Hope to the Summit Bechtel Reserve, allowing staff and campers to visit Mount Hope and access the trail by foot or by bike. Lastly, it will connect Mount Hope to the New River Gorge National River, allowing trail users to access the Terry Top trail and the Garden Ground Stacked Loop system of trails by foot or by bike.

The trail will serve as a crucial connection within the New River Gorge Trail Alliance’s southern West Virginia Trail Network. The Summit Bechtel Reserve has already permitted the opening of an old road between Mount Hope and Glen Jean for non-motorized trail users which will tie into the Mount Hope Rail Trail by way of Mount Hope’s designated in-town Bike/Walk routes. Trail users will eventually be able to connect to the White Oak Rail Trail in Oak Hill by foot or bike. Further planning by the NRGTA will seek to connect Mount Hope further south to Beckley, the Piney Creek Gorge, and the Raleigh County Airport by trails. A long-term vision is for Scouts visiting Mount Hope for the World Jamboree to be able to hike all the way to camp from their airplanes (with some stops along the way, of course).

The 3.5-mile Rail Trail will tie into the city’s walking routes near the future Coal Heritage Discovery Center (former Patteson Dealership), allowing visitors to get exercise while exploring a historical corridor at their own pace. The City of Mount Hope will assume primary responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the Mount Hope Rail Trail. I have been included on the project team as the City of Mount Hope’s representative to begin creating a rail-trail authority and begin looking into re-engaging and/or creating the Dunloop Creek Watershed Association, to maintain the rail-trail and the greenway.

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