One of the best parts of my job is talking to park visitors about all of the trails they can hike, run, or bike in The Parklands. When reviewing the options, I can usually be found saying the following:
“That’s my favorite trail!”
“Oh no wait, THAT’S my favorite trail.”
“Ooh, but then there’s this one that goes right along the creek….”
It’s hard to be decisive about a favorite when the options provide such a wide array of experiences. If I’m in the mood to run (admittedly, rarely) Big Beech in Pope Lick is my go-to. If I want a quick walk through the shade near the creek, I’ll hit the Sycamore Trail in Beckley Creek Park. If I want a grin on my face that I can’t wipe off, I head to the trails in Turkey Run for a mountain bike ride. The latter option is why I was beyond excited for the opening of the new Hickory Trail.
If you’re headed North from the Silo Center, the 1.45-mile Hickory Trail runs parallel to Paw Paw and ends at the intersection of Paw Paw and Chinkapin. This creates the great option of looping back to where you started without having to get on a hard-surface trail.
I had to see the new trail for myself, so I loaded up my bike and headed out for an after-work ride. I started by parking at the Silo Center and riding to the trailhead, where I hopped on the Paw Paw Trail. I decided to take Paw Paw out and Hickory back, mostly because I couldn’t pass up the downhill section at the beginning of Paw Paw with all the fun rollers.
After about a mile of pedaling, I came to the intersection of the three trails and started making my way along Hickory. There’s a mellow climb right at the start that sets you up for a smile-inducing downhill that seems to go on forever, with rollers, dips and turns that make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster.
Needless to say, I popped out of the trail with a giant grin and couldn’t wait to spread the word about its scenic views and great design. As a beginner mountain biker, I had just as much fun riding this trail as some of my more experienced riding partners. Hickory trail is unintimidating, yet still provides features that riders of all ability levels can enjoy.
It’s totally my new favorite trail.
Photos by Derek Fetko