The Allegheny Highlands Trail (AHT) follows the original route of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway built by Henry Gassaway Davis in 1884. For 24.5 miles, this exceptionally scenic trail provides panoramic views of the West Virginia countryside as it passes through small towns and rural farmland.
From the Highland Park Trailhead in Elkins (Randolph County), the AHT gradually ascends for approximately 15 miles. Paved for the first 3 miles, the trail’s rural vistas and mountainous background provide numerous opportunities for photos. The trail starts to descend as it crosses into Tucker County and continues downhill through beautiful forest for approximately 3 miles. It then follows the paved Moore Station Rd. for about 1 mile, returning to paved railroad grade at Porterwood and continuing to the small town of Parsons.
Parsons offers the chance to grab a bite to eat at any of the several small-town restaurants. In the middle of town, the AHT crosses the Shavers Fork River on the restored Western Maryland Railroad bridge, then follows city streets for just over one block. At barricades, it descends to the city’s Mill Race Park, where a ramp leads to the Black Fork Bridge on US 219. A separate bicycle-pedestrian lane takes the trail across the Black Fork River to the Bretz Trailhead at the US Forest Service Nursery Bottom.
The remaining 3 mile section is paved and follows the beautiful Black Fork River to the small town of Hendricks. The undeveloped railroad grade climbs through the Blackwater Canyon to the town of Thomas; however, this section is quite steep and is not maintained for recreational use.
↓ AHT Loop Options
Start: Highland Park -- Difficulty: Intermediate -- Take AHT N to Kennedy Street, one block on right. Follow Kennedy Street past North Elementary School and bear left at T intersection to Gilman Road. Stay on Gilman Road, parallel to Allegheny Highlands Trail, to US Route. 219. Turn left onto shoulder of 219 and left onto Allegheny Highlands Trail for three-mile cruise back to start.
Start: Kerens -- Difficulty: Easy -- Take AHT S from Kerens Parking Area to US 219 at Gilman. Turn Right on 219. Caution. Cross bridge and turn right on Route. 1, Leading Creek Road. Bear right at T on Route 7, Triplett Road. Return to start on AHT past the Leading Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
Start: Highland Park -- Difficulty: Intermediate -- Take AHT N to Kerens. Turn left on Route 7, Triplett Road, at Leading Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Keep right at fork passing log cabin on the left and take the next left on Route 1/5, Pearcy Road. Bear left at the T on Route 11, Laurel Mountain Road and straight onto US 219 S. Caution. Take the first past bridge to AHT to return to start.
Start: Kerens -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Cross US 219 to Route 7, Clifton Run Road. Climb over Cheat Mountain bearing left at fork to Shaver's Fork River. Cross the river to Route 6 and bear right at the fork on Route 9/3 to Lower Cheat. Cross the "Concrete Bridge" to Route 9. Climb steeply from the river and enjoy a long descent along Craven's Run to Harpertown. Take a right on Route 1, Gilman Road and climb over hill. Bear right at T and left on AHT. Cross US 219 on AHT at Gilman. Caution. Continue N on AHT to start.
Start: Kerens -- Difficulty: Intermediate -- Take Route 7, Triplett Road past Leading Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Take second right on Route 3/1, Hartman Lane. Continue straight at crossing and bear left at Primitive Baptist Church at top of hill. Turn right onto Route 4/2 thru Montrose. Cross bridge and turn right on AHT in Montrose. Follow AHT S to start.
Start: Montrose -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Take AHT N to first left, Salt Lick Road. Cross bridge to Montrose. Turn right at fork on Clover Run Road. Climb to county line and proceed several miles to Smoky Hollow Road on right. Take Smoky Hollow to Route 72 in Parsons. Turn right on 72 and continue straight through stop light onto US Route 219. Take AHT on left past shopping center and return S to start.
Start: Porterwood -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Take County Route 39 Shavers Fork Road from Porterwood past Riverview Church along Shavers Fork River. Continue on paved road at fork and climb gradually to county line. Then descend two miles to US Route 219. Caution. Cross 219 to Israel Church Road and take immediate right on AHT. Proceed N on AHT back to start.
Start: Kerens -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Take AHT N to first crossing on Israel Church Road. Turn right on Israel Church to intersection of US Route 219. Caution. Cross 219 to Pheasant Mountain Road at Old Fire Hall. Climb 2 miles to county line and descend 3.5 miles to County Route 39 on right. Ride gravel road to Clifton Run, first fork on right. Take Clifton Run about 7 miles to US Route 219. Caution. Cross 219 to AHT on right at start.
Adjacent trails of the national forest beckon mountain bikers and hikers to explore beautiful, woodsy routes on Pheasant Mountain.
Start: Montrose -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Take AHT S to Smith Crossing. Turn left on paved road to US 219. Caution. Cross 219 to Cherry Fork Road and proceed about 1 1/4 miles to National Forest access at sign on left. Access trail cuts to logging road. Follow logging road to trail. Singletrack follows ridge line for about 6 miles and descends through rhododendron to logging road. Bear left to gated Forest Road 116 and pass through private farm on right of way to South Haddix Road. Pass lumber mill to Moore Station Road/AHT. Turn left on shared use road/trail and continue south 6 miles to start.
Start: Porterwood -- Difficulty: Advanced -- Take AHT S to first crossing at end of paved section on Moore Station Road. Bear right to US 219. Caution. Cross 219 to Forest Road 933 at Blackwater Cooperative Wildlife Management Area. Climb one mile on 933 to clearing. Trail is to the right of clearing near the road. Narrow single track descends through three switchback drainages and a rhododendron tunnel to US 219. Caution. Cross 219 to shoulder and ride south to AHT access at Moore. Take Moore Station Road/AHT N to start.
Start: Porterwood -- Difficulty: Intermediate -- Follow directions for Lower Shingle Tree ride to clearing on Forest Road 933. Upper Shingle Tree is to the left of the clearing. Trail climbs on old narrow guage railroad bed. Continue straight on trail at dirt road crossing. Bear left at fork on Pheasant Mountain Trail and descend to Forest Road 933. Turn left on 933. Bear right past gate and descend to 219. Caution. Cross 219 to Moore Station Road/AHT and return N to start.
The Shingle Tree and Pheasant Mountain Trails are also beautiful hikes, especially in early June when the rhododendron and lady slippers are in bloom.
About the map: Produced by HTF in collaboration with Randolph and Tucker County Convention & Visitors Bureaus, the Canaan Valley Institute, and the West Virginia Division of Highways, the map is distributed at county visitor centers and area bike shops. Maps are also available in information boxes – replicas of former Western Maryland phone boxes – located at all AHT trailheads. Become a member of the Highlands Trail Foundation and receive a free copy by mail!
Note: The trail section between Parsons and Bretz (marked in yellow) has now been completed.
Read: The latest update on the connection from Highland Park to the Elkins Depot