When a mother pushes her baby in a stroller, a fast-paced jogger sprints ahead or a bicycling enthusiast pedals by in Wheeling, they might not be aware they are all utilizing a pedestrian trail heralded as one of the best in the country.
Wheeling's Heritage Trail system has been christened a "Five-Star Trail" by the International Rails to Trails Conservancy. According to Doug Wayt with the Ohio Valley Trail Partners, this designation is a plus for the city's trail system and the surrounding area.
"We are very fortunate that the city of Wheeling developed this trail. Now we are recognized among the best in the country," Wayt said.
He noted that many bicyclists travel from the Pittsburgh area to ride Wheeling's trail system, traveling north to connect with Brooke County's Pioneer Trail.
"People who come here can't believe how nice the trail is and that it's paved. The Pittsburgh trails are not paved," Wayt said.
Wayt and other Trail Partners will take part in the second annual Pittsburgh Cycle Expo on April 7, continuing to spread the word about Wheeling's trail and other amenities that keep visitors coming to the Friendly City.
The Ohio Valley Trail Partners next meet at 11:30 a.m. April 10 at Generations Pub in Wheeling.
Also during the recent Trail Partners meeting, Wayt provided an update about the seventh annual Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour planned for May 26 at Heritage Port.
The tour begins and ends on the paved trail, and helmets are required for everyone. There are three separate options for enjoying the event. Registration will begin at 7 a.m.
The tour will begin at 8 a.m. with the start of the 100K riders. At 8:45 a.m., riders traveling the 30-mile route will take off from the port. The 10-mile riders will begin shortly after the large group start.
Cyclists riding 10 or 30 miles will remain on the trail. The 100K, or 62-mile, riders will follow Heritage Trail to the new section of the Brooke Pioneer Trail and leave the trail for a hilly loop through Bethany and West Liberty with a stop at Bethany College. Participants will return to Heritage Port for lunch and entertainment.
Pre-registration by May 24 will include a reduced fee. Registration the day of the tour is $5 more. There is a family rate available. There will be multiple rest stops with snacks and water provided.
Volunteers are still needed to serve as road guards, work at rest stops and the registration table. Sponsors are always welcome. To volunteer or for more information about the ride, call 740-635-3700 or visit www.quickservicecycle.com /whttour.
Last year's trail ride attracted nearly 300 participants, and more are expected this year. The trail and the event are currently featured in Bike Midwest magazine.