ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — Elkins Area Shared Trails (EAST) in Randolph County has been awarded $50,000 to begin a new series of trails in the Elkins area.

According to a press release from the City of Elkins, the EAST received funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a project for bike-optimized trails.

The funding will help create a master trail plan in Randolph County which will:

  • Plan and blueprint trails on five properties throughout Randolph County
  • Survey up to 10 miles of trail
  • Conduct preliminary site planning for a community bike-skills area

The goal of the project is to “lay the groundwork for a network of multi-purpose trails to capitalize on the strong cycling and outdoor recreation culture of the nearby Mon National Forest,” which will help build the region’s outdoor tourism economy.

The EAST Collaborative, which includes Davis & Elkins College and Davis Health System as well as the City of Elkins, hopes that the creation of a master trail plan for Randolph County will lead to other areas following suit. Ideally, it will be a pilot project for the 11 other communities in the Mon Forest Towns Partnership.

The partnership plans to share its experience with the wider community by August 2023, according to the release.

“City of Elkins and its partners in the EAST collaborative know that robust outdoor recreation infrastructure and opportunities are a key driver of economic development and population growth in communities like ours,” said Jessica Sutton, the Elkins city clerk and the city’s representative on the collaborative. “The trail planning that our ARC POWER Initiative grant award will fund is a significant step forward in attracting new residents, new businesses, and new investment to our community.”

The award is part of a nearly $47 million package supporting 52 projects in 181 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative.