About the Foundation
The North Bend Rails-to-Trails Foundation, Inc. was established in 1989 to help raise funds for the ongoing development, maintenance and marketing of the North Bend Rail Trail, which is operated by the West Virginia State Parks system. Stretching 72 miles across north-central West Virginia, the North Bend Rail Trail is a scenic pathway that takes travelers across 38 bridges and through 10 tunnels. It is part of the 5,500-mile American Discovery Trail, which spans the length of the United States.
The North Bend Rails-to-Trails Foundation, Inc. has partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to make the NBRT part of the Industrial Heartlands Trail – an effort to create a nearly continuous 1,400-mile loop through Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. The NBRT will be the “southern anchor” of the IHT trail.
Hiking & Bicycling
One of the North Bend Rail Trail's most unique features are the 10 tunnels scattered between Parkersburg and Wolf Summit. There were so many tunnels on the Parkersburg Branch railroad that Mark Twain once referred to it "as the longest subway in the world." Today these tunnels look much like they did just after the Civil War. They remain cool year round and are a great place to duck into if you're out biking on a hot summer day. Once deep inside the tunnel, it is virtually pitch black so we recommend that you bring a flashlight or wear a helmet light.
Named in honor of the legendary NBRT Foundation's creator, the Dick Bias Tunnel near Ellenboro was carved through more than 300 feet of solid rock. With its natural rough-cut walls, you truly feel like you're traveling through the belly of a mountain.
The crushed-stone surface makes it comfortable for horses to traverse year round. The majority of the trail is easy and flat with only a slight grade in a few sections. If you are having an event with a large group of riders, we ask that you notify Trail Superintendent Paul Elliott so we can make preparations for your trail ride.
History & Culture
The North Bend Rail Trail was originally a part of the B&O's 1856 Northwestern Virginia Railroad, later called the Parkersburg Branch. Its economic and cultural impact was so important to the growth of north-central West Virginia, that it has become an indelible part of our history.
The completion of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad brought about an era of unprecedented prosperity to north-central West Virginia. Not only was it a vital supply line for Union forces during the Civil War, the railroad played a key role in the development of the oil and gas industries at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The last train rolled through in 1985, but thanks to the efforts of the North Bend Rails-to-Trails Foundation and the West Virginia State Parks system, we can still walk the paths these trains traveled and pass through the tunnels and bridges that carried a whole new way of life into our sleepy little counties. The North Bend Rail Trail takes you through the heart of several small towns where historic and cultural buildings and sites can still be seen today.