WV Route 9 (aka “Jail”) Trail

Eastern Regional Jail from the bike path

Eastern Regional Jail from the bike path

Some things excite me; some things don’t.  That’s a simple–possibly simple minded–statement, and when our friend Jane suggested hiking the length of the WV Route 9 Trail from about the 10.5 mile area near Charles Town to its beginning just outside of Martinsburg, I cringed.  In spite of its popularity, some of the snobbier locals refer to our local bike path as the “Jail Trail.”  Yes, when I started out on this journey I was among these snobs, but we like Jane, and it was her turn to pick a hiking destination.

Black Dog Coffee Company.  From the Charles Town end, it's about 3 miles into the walk.

Black Dog Coffee Company. From the Charles Town end, it’s about 3 miles into the walk.

My past experiences on the trail were all about prepping to do the detour when biking the length of the C&O Canal.  The WV Route 9 Trail is kind of hilly in spots, so it served our purpose.  Nevertheless, if I hadn’t had an ulterior motive, wild horses couldn’t have dragged me to the bike path.  For starters, it runs alongside a four-lane highway much of the way, and it’s wide open throughout.  Sunburn and/or windburn are a distinct possibility, and I’ve read several reviews of the trail from bikers who have left the path a bit redder than when they started.  However, when Jane promised a really good cup of coffee along the way, I softened a bit!  The Black Dog Coffee Company proclaims their beans to be “so fresh that you’ll want to slap them,” and the bold brew delivered that and then some!  I enjoyed it so much that I bought one of their logo caps.

Straight stretch w/ a road sign

Straight stretch w/ a road sign

As we walked on, I noticed that one of the trail’s major strengths is also one of its quirks.  There are a lot of access points, but many are between hills.  Thus, bikers are forced to stop for traffic before heading up some fairly tough grades.  It’s a real momentum breaker!  From a hiker’s perspective that doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, so we pressed on through a mixture of garbage-strewn roadways and some surprisingly good scenery.  There are a number of trail signs along the trail that tell some of the local history, and, for the most part, the three of us were relatively pleased.

Abandoned apple orchard

Abandoned apple orchard

For me, one of the more interesting sights was an apple orchard that has more-or-less gone to seed.  The structure in the middle of the picture is a broken-down wind turbine that used to run during those cold Spring nights of yesteryear.  The breeze it created kept frost from accumulating on apple blossoms, which in turn would have destroyed the crop before it could get started.   Our local apple industry has slowly given way to more profitable land sales and housing developments.  In spite of the orchard’s dilapidated state, it did do wonders for the scenery along this semi-urban path.

Machinery, mulch, etc.

Machinery, mulch, etc.

At about the three-quarters mark, we were surprised to see large piles of mulch and what appeared (from a distance) to be sand and gravel.  Like I said, my opinion of the trail softened a bit as the day went on, and instead of finding this place unsightly, I was pleased by the smell of cedar mulch as we continued our hike.  In the past, we’ve hiked in some out-of-the-way places, but if everything were in the middle-of-nowhere, there probably wouldn’t be a middle-of-nowhere.  I didn’t put a lot of thought into that last statement, but what I’m saying is that urban trails give people a chance to (sort of) get away without blowing a lot of money on food, gasoline, and equipment.  Our local “Jail Trail” isn’t one of my favorite spots, but it makes me appreciate the C&O Canal, AT, Tuscarora Trail, etc. that much more.  With that said, I will probably load up the bike or lace up my boots and head for WV Route 9 again.

Looking back from the last hill as we near the jail

Looking back from the last hill as we near the jail

 

Be Sociable, Share!

2 responses to this post.

  1. You had me at COFFEE!! That was well worth a hike/bike ride.

    Reply

    • Posted by LevelWalker on December 6, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      I hear you! There’s no such thing as a bad hike, and the coffee was the highlight. They brew it up strong too.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>