Mountain state Trail Alliance

Building a world class trail network connecting communities


  • December 06, 2019 6:02 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)

    Welcome to the Mountain State Trail Alliance (formerly known as the New River Gorge Trail Alliance)! Great things are happening with trails in our region. Please share this newsletter with people who support trail development and encourage them to join us. Thank you to the people who contributed articles and photos for this issue. 

    If you have information or pictures on trail projects in your area, please submit them to the MSTA for our next newsletter. Your feedback on the newsletter and the Trail Alliance is welcome. Articles or comments can be submitted by emailing them to Billy Strasser at 

    Winter is a great time to experience one of the great trails in southern West Virginia. Thank you for your support!

    General Membership Meeting Update

    General membership meetings were held at ACE Adventure Resort in Minden, WV on September 24, and at Montgomery Community Center in Montgomery on November 19, 2019.  The next meeting will be held in January, location to be determined (we will email you). 

    The Board of Directors meetings are held at 4:30 PM followed by the general membership meeting at 6:00 PM. The general membership meetings are open to the public. Please encourage trail supporters that you know to attend. If you want to put a topic on the agenda, please email a description of the topic to Bill Wells. 

    Power of Performance Award

    We received a “Power of Performance” award at the Monday November 18 Small Communities, Big Solutions conference, sponsored by the WV Community Development Hub, the Alliance for Economic Development in Southern WV, and the Coalfield Development Corporation. We were recognized in the “Revitalizing Communities” category for our work in helping redevelop and grow our communities. Thanks to all of you for your hard work – it is being recognized around the state! 

    New Look, New Year

    As you are aware, to better reflect the counties within our organization, we changed our name from “New River Gorge Trail Alliance” to “Mountain State Trail Alliance.” We have developed a new logo, and plan to roll out a press release with a refreshed website (with a new web address) in January 2020. To get the biggest media splash, we are aiming to do this all at once, so we have been continuing to use the old “NRGTA” name until we officially roll out the “MSTA” name in January. 

    Grants Update

    Since NRGTA was established in 2016, we have received over $2 million in grants. As follows is a chart of our grants to date, with updates on individual grants:

    2017 ARC Implementation Grant

    In partnership with Region 4 Planning and Development Council, we received a $1 million grant in fall 2017 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to create a regional trail network in Fayette, Nicholas, and Greenbrier counties. The West Virginia Division of Highways contributed $300,000 in matching money, and local volunteer labor is providing an additional $100,000 of in-kind contributions for a total of $1.4 million. 

    Billy Strasser was hired as Project Manager of this grant, and Sam Chaber was hired as the Trail Maintenance Manager. Funding for their positions will run out in late winter/early spring of 2020, under the non-construction side of the project. WVDOH is seeking an extension with ARC to complete their construction side of the project. 

    Currently, we are working with WV DOH to complete their Scope of Work, so they can begin work with their contractor Burgess and Niple.

    2019 ARC Technical Assistance (TA) Grant


    We’ve been working with the WV GIS Center to acquire large physical vision maps of each of our Trail Alliance counties. We’ve reviewed the first draft and requested a second draft for review. We plan to look at those as a team and also take them to county stakeholders to verify accuracy of the information, and make sure that points of interest are addressed. Stay tuned for a map review in your county soon!

    Trail Towns

    Part of the current POWER TA grant includes working with existing rail-trails and existing projects to begin developing a WV Trail Town Program. When I began looking into these programs in July, it became apparent that there were pockets of this work going on all over the state. The New River Gorge Trail Alliance (NRGTA) coordinated a Trail Town meeting with some of these organizations to find out their status and how we could work together to create something appropriate statewide.

    At this meeting, we discussed creating a guidance document, based on existing resources, to support WV town development to make the most of economic opportunities presented by trails. We are currently working with both the National Coal Heritage Authority in southern West Virginia and Friends of the Cheat in northern West Virginia on pilot (possibly multiple pilot) "WV Trail Town" projects.  

    During that meeting, we also identified the need for a broader statewide initiative to unite the voices of trail work happening throughout the state, which led to the coordination of another “Trails” meeting in conjunction with the annual Brownfields conference in Morgantown.

    Statewide Trail Initiative

    Based on the conversation we facilitated in Oak Hill in July, NRGTA partnered with Rails to Trails Conservancy, Brownfields Assistance Center, and WVU Extension, and others to work toward a statewide trail initiative. The first step on this path will likely be an annual statewide trails conference, where we can bring all the trail-players in the state to the table to discuss how to be more effective in our work, unite our voices at the state level, and leverage collective impact by working together. There has been definite movement forward on this front over the past four months.

    Aspects of this initiative include:

          Identify/support/create sustainable statewide trail entity

          Update the statewide trail plan 

          Organize an annual statewide trail conference

          Create a legislative trail caucus

          Garner support for trail work at the state level

    Possible Extensions/Connections to the Existing NRGTA Trail Network

    A major component of the current 2019 ARC TA POWER grant is to conduct an inventory and assessment of possible extensions and connections to the existing New River Gorge Trail Alliance network. 

    To begin, we created a ranking matrix, consisting of a variety of categories by which trails would be ranked. These categories include: length, ROW availability, cost, connectivity to other trails in the network, connectivity to towns and other points of interest, scenic value, safety, usability (i.e. single track v rail trail, grade, etc.), local support, and potential sources of funding.

    We then spent time studying the vision map and talking with stakeholders in each of the counties to determine viable potential extensions and connections.  We created and revised a current list of potential trails (extensions/connections), developed an assessment matrix and worked with NRGTA project team to include all applicable information for future priority determination within the organization. This trail matrix was developed and submitted for an initial review by the NRGTA Board in September. 

    A number of possible routes in Fayette, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers, Kanawha Webster and Monroe counties were considered for potential connection/extension of the existing NRGTA network, but were eliminated from the matrix primarily due to a lack of a strong champion group, uncertain routing, or lack of connectivity to the current NRGTA network.

    We ultimately narrowed the list down to the following 4 priority routes at this time:

    1. Tri Rivers Trail to Cowen

    2. Mount Hope to Beckley

    3. Gauley Bridge to Montgomery to Pratt

    4. Camp Creek to Hinton (Bluestone River Gorge portion of the Great Eastern Trail)

    In the month of September, we finalized a list of requirements for admitting a new county into the Trail Alliance. These requirements were voted on and approved at the September NRGTA Board meeting and both Webster and Monroe county stakeholders have been advised.

    1. County Commission approval.

    2. Board member.

    3. Minimum show of support – 5 individuals/families and 1 business join Trail Alliance from that county

    4. Trail “champion” – local leader who can recruit support, suggest trail projects etc.

    5. Vision map completed for the county

    We continue to explore options for connecting and extending our existing trail network. Webster County is working hard to meet all of the requirements for a new county to join our Alliance. 

    Coal Heritage Grants Update

    2018 NCHA Grant:

    In spring 2018 we applied for a National Coal Heritage Area (NCHA) Partnership Grant to study a cemetery and an old coal mining structure at Wolf Creek Park, discovered when we were laying out future bike trails. We hired historians Dr. Billy Joe Peyton and Dr. Michael Workman of West Virginia State University in Institute, WV to study the structure, and they submitted a final report to us at the end of September. 

    The report is attached to this newsletter, and has some very interesting information about local history. We worked in partnership with the Fayette County Urban Renewal Authority (URA) board on this project, as they are the owners of Wolf Creek Park. This grant closed out in October, 2019. 

    2019 NCHA Grant:

    In spring 2019 we applied for (and received) a second NCHA Partnership Grant, to take the results of the above study and share them with the public via new wayside exhibits to be designed and installed near the structure. In addition, we asked for funds to improve trail access to the structure, and to fence off a nearby cemetery discovered during trail scouting at Wolf Creek Park. 

    In fall 2019, Sam Chaber used funds from this grant to rent a mini-excavator and build approximately 3 miles of trail at Wolf Creek Park, to connect the main entry area of the park to Harlem Heights Cemetery. We are now working to purchase split-rail fencing to install around the cemetery. We have also developed the draft wayside exhibits, and they are under review. 

    Other Ongoing Grants

    WV Community Development Hub POWER Storytelling Mini-Grant: We wrote a successful $5,000 grant request to the West Virginia Community Development Hub to hire a marketing firm to increase the visibility of our work done under the ARC Implementation grant. We contracted with Digital Relativity in Fayetteville to create a new video, a new logo for NRGTA/MSTA, and a marketing plan and strategy to help us increase our membership and social media presence. Pat Strader, CEO and founder of Digital Relativity, personally oversaw our work, and this grant closed out in November. The video, logos, and marketing plan are attached to this newsletter. 

    Benedum/Upper Kanawha Valley Foundation Grant: NRGTA was contacted by a consultant writing a grant for Upper Kanawha Valley, who asked if we’d like to serve on a steering committee to develop a trail system from Gauley Bridge to Charleston. Requests for Proposals were put out to bidders, and we attended a meeting in Charleston to select the winning bidder. Our understanding is that this initial contract will investigate possibilities for a trail, with future grant requests to seek construction funds.

    Proposed Grants

    ARC TA Grant: Funding for all 3 of our positions (Billy Strasser, Sam Chaber and Kim Maxwell) runs out in spring 2020. We have approached staff at the WV Development Office about applying for a TA grant to provide funding for a Project Manager and Trail Maintenance Manager position for the next two years. This grant application is due at the end of January 2020, and would request approximately $220,000 to continue the work of NRGTA for the next two years, until a Trail Authority can be established, which would provide long-term stability and funding for these positions. We are currently approaching various County Commissions for their support on this application via a support letter.

    Benedum Foundation Match: We have approached the Benedum Foundation about their interest in providing a cash match to the ARC TA grant above. This funding would provide money for NRGTA to coordinate a Statewide Trails Conference, hopefully to be hosted in our region. We envision this conference would bring together trail enthusiasts of all types from around the state, and would help connect people together in beginning to build a statewide trails caucus, revitalize the 2002 Statewide Trails Plan, create a statewide nonprofit for trail advocacy, work toward creating a statewide Trail Towns program, and more. This application will be submitted to Benedum in December 2019.  

    Planning Grant: We have begun brainstorming ideas for a possible Planning TA grant, to follow up on the work that Kim Maxwell began under her TA grant. A grant application could include construction funding requests for trails in Webster County, Fayette County, and Raleigh County. The Webster County portion would seek to extend the Tri-Rivers Trail northward to Cowen, the Fayette County portion would seek to finish undone work from the initial Implementation grant, and the Raleigh County portion would seek to connect Mount Hope and Beckley. We are reaching out to counties and municipalities for support on this. 

    Trails Update

    Wolf Creek Park – Trail Maintenance Manager Sam Chaber has been constructing a 3.5 mile beginner trail at Wolf Creek Park. The 3.5 mile section has been roughed in with the use of a mini excavator and finish work is now taking place on a day to day basis. This is the first 3.5 mile loop that has been constructed of the proposed 16 mile trail system in Wolf Creek Park. We do need help with finish work and are asking for volunteers that are interested to contact Sam Chaber at We would like to get all finish work done by March so the trail will be ready to ride this coming spring and summer. 

    Starting this month every Wednesday Trail Maintenance Manager Sam Chaber will be at Wolf Creek Park continuing the finish work and welcomes anyone that wants to come out and lend a hand to contact him for more information.

    More trail work day events will be happening soon at Wolf Creek Park, please stay tuned for upcoming dates and information. For any questions please contact NRGTA.

    Monongahela National Forest – A trail project took place at the end of October in Monongahela National Forest to enhance rider usability on the Big Run Trail. NRGTA teamed up with Doug Arbogast (WVU Extension Specialist – Rural Tourism Development) and students from WVU tackled a creek crossing project on the Big Run Trail in the Monongahela National Forest. 

    NRGTA and volunteers were able to construct a crossing passable by bikers and hikers alike. The creek crossing has been blown out for several years and was not navigable by bike, but with the hard work that NRGTA and volunteers put in it is now a great feature of the trail. Check it out for yourself! Take a trip to the Monongahela National Forest and ride Fork Mountain Trail to Big Run trail to get the full experience. 

    Every Monday our Trail Maintenance Manager will be heading to the Monongahela NF to conduct trail maintenance. If you’re interested in joining in on the fun please contact Sam Chaber at

    Whitlock Farm NRGTA is thrilled to be a partner with the URA and the Whitlock Farm Project which is now known as the New Roots Farm. NRGTA worked with Susie Wheeler (Whitlock Farm project manager) to flag a route on the property that will help with a connection between Wolf Creek Rd and Crooked Run Rd. A lot of exciting things are taking place on the farm. If you haven’t heard the buzz or seen the work that has been taking place out there, set aside some time to visit, or even better - volunteer! For more information and opportunities contact Angelina Corwin at

    Adopt a Trail Program

    The Rotary Club adopted the Fayetteville trail – thank you Rotary!

    Does your family, organization, company, school, or church want to Adopt A Trail? Let us know and we can give you the means necessary to do the work needed. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors, great exercise, give back to the community and feel like you're a part of something bigger. Contact NRGTA for more information.

    Contact Us

    You can contact the NRGTA through our website at, our Facebook page at, or by emailing Bill Wells at

    Future Dates to Remember

    January, 2020 – Nicholas County NRGTA meeting - date and location to be determined

    March, 2020 – Greenbrier County NRGTA meeting - date and location to be determined

    Welcome New Members!

    Individual Memberships 

    Cory Banks

    Michael Bobbitt

    Geary Weir

    Family Memberships 

    Sam Barger

    Nathan Baturka

    Tracy Elswick

    Mark Huffman

    Mark Lattanzi

    Robert Litle

    Mike Smith

    Government/Non-Profit Memberships 

    Webster County Economic Development Authority

    Thank You to our Corporate Members!

    These companies are supporting trail development in our area by being members of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance and in many cases by donating right of ways for trail construction. Please support NRGTA’s corporate members by giving them your business. 

    ACE Adventure Resort – Outdoor Adventure Outfitter, Lodging, Restaurant Minden, WV

    Arrowhead Bike Farm, Fayetteville, WV – Phil Waidner 


    Bypass Pharmacy  (Sid Ilangovan)– Beckley, WV


    Bridge Brew Works, LLC - Fayetteville, WV
    (304) 282-2201

    Country Road Realty – Elizabeth Wickline


    Doc’s BBQ, Craigsville, WV

    304 742-1132,

    Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, Oak Hill, WV

    304 465-5617,

    Jeff Edwards

    Keenan and Associates, LLC – Fayetteville, WV

    304 574-2072,

    Joy Marr – JM Catering, Gourmet on the Gorge, Lansing, WV


    Mountain Vacation Properties – Vacation Rentals, Fayetteville, WV

    New River Bikes – Bike Sales, Rentals and Service - Fayetteville, WV

    Opossum Creek Retreat – Cabin Rentals Lansing, WV
    (304) 574-4836

    Whistle Punk Grill and Taphouse - Stacy Raffo, Richwood, WV

    304 846-2020,

    Wild Rock WV – Real Estate Sales, Vacation Rentals Lansing, WV

    Kevin Williams, Western Greenbrier Business Development 

    West Virginia Coal Association  304-342-4153

  • September 05, 2017 3:55 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)

    Great things are happening with trails in the New River Gorge Trail Alliance region. Please share this newsletter with people who support trail development and encourage them to join the NRGTA. Thank you to the people who contributed articles and photos for this issue. If you have information or pictures on trail projects in your area, please submit them to the NRGTA for our next newsletter. Your feedback on the newsletter and the Trail Alliance is welcome. Articles or comments can be submitted by emailing them to Bill Wells at Summer is a great time to experience one of the great trails in Southern West Virginia. Thank you for your support of trails and the New River Gorge Trail Alliance.

    New River Gorge Trail Alliance Newsletter 3rd Quarter 2017

  • January 27, 2017 3:36 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)

    Check out the latest about the New River Gorge from our friends at Blue Ridge Outdoors!

  • January 25, 2017 3:30 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)

    New River Gorge Trail Alliance Newsletter

    1st Quarter 2017

    Happy New Year to members of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance and trail supporters everywhere.  This is the first newsletter of the NRGTA.  We will be publishing the newsletter quarterly and distributing it by email to members and friends of the Trail Alliance.  As you will see in the following pages, there are a lot of exciting trail projects in the works in our area.  Please share this newsletter with people who support trail development in our area and encourage them to join the NRGTA.  As our membership grows and more people get involved in promoting trail development, we will gain even more momentum to create a world class trail system in the New River Gorge Region.  I would like to thank the people who contributed articles to the newsletter and encourage members to submit articles and pictures to be included in future issues.  Articles can include updates on trail projects in your area, suggestions for trail projects or other items of interest.  Articles or comments can be submitted by emailing them to Bill Wells at  We hope you enjoy this newsletter and thank you for your support of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance.


  • November 07, 2016 3:27 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)

    Alliance Receives Grant to Study Bike Trail System

    Check out latest story on WV Public Broadcasting!

  • November 05, 2016 3:20 PM | Philip Waidner (Administrator)
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