General Route Description
Elkins to St. George: Starting at the southern trail head of the Allegheny Highlands Trail, you head north on the rail trail, the old Western Maryland Railway route to Davis. You follow Leading Creek and at 2.8 miles you arrive at route 219/89 (old route US 219). You take a left on 219/86, go 0.15 miles and take a right on County 1, Leading Creek Rd. (shortly called Gilman Road). Co. 1 follows Leading Creek, north out of Elkins and provides a flat ride to warm up the legs. At 6.2 miles you make a sharp right (road enters from left), before taking a left on Co. 3/3 and continuing up the valley. At 11.1 miles, what appears to be the main route goes right, but you go straight to continue on Co. 1. After another 1.2 miles you continue straight at the stop sign. At 13.8 miles you begin the 0.5 mile climb up to the county line at 14.3 miles. The climb has some ramps in excess of 10%. At the top, the road becomes Tucker Co. 23.
Reaching the top of the climb and the unmarked county line, you begin a nice descent. You have an immediate U turn and another sharp turn on the descent, but overall, it is a very pleasant descent that goes all the way to the intersection with County 21 at 16.2 miles. Taking a right on Co. 21, you are still going downgrade along Clover Run. At 18.1 miles you come to the intersection with Co. 17, which comes over the mountain from Parsons. You bare left to continue on Co. 21 and at 21.0 miles you cross an open grid medal deck bridge just before arriving at the intersection with State Route 38. Taking a right on 38, you have a 1.2 mile gradual downhill run to Route 72 and the Cheat River. Taking a right on 72, you go 0.4 miles and take a left across the Cheat River to St. George.
St. George to St. George:
Entering the little community of St. George (former county seat) you start the Limestone Mountain part of the route. You continue straight thru onto Co. 5, Location Road, and immediately begin the big climb of the route. From St. George, you have 8 miles up Location Road before you top out on the ridge. The first six and a half miles of the climb are not bad with a stairstep profile and grades of 4-7 percent. The last one and a half miles are consitantely above 8 percent, but the great vistas, at first to the West and then to the East as you near the top of the climb.
After topping out the climb, you turn left on Cty. 3 and head out ridge of Limestone Mountain with some fantastic vistas in all directions. The next few miles are rolling with some steep ramps, but overall, you start descendting toward the Cheat River. At the end of the ridge you have a STEEP final desent into the valley of the Cheat River. You actually enter what was once an oxbow of the Cheat River, before heading back toward St. George along the edge of the valley. Arriving in St. George again, you take a left on the road you first came in on, and then take the next right after a couple hundred yards onto Cty. 1.
St. George to Parsons:
Leavinng St. George on county route 1 and past the St. George Academy and the St. George Medical Clinic. (The clinic is a good place to top off the water bottles for the final trip to Parsons if they are open. There is a water jug in the lobby, and a rest room.} Passing the clinic, you will be traveling along the edge of the Cheat River valley with rolling terrain and a couple short steep ramps. After passing the roads to Horseshoe Campground and Sugarland Road (you turn right to avoid going on Sugarland Road) you will come to a sharp switchback that begins the 0.8 mile climb between St. George and Parsons. This is a pretty steady climb with no severe ramps. Topping out, you begin a steep descent with a sharp turn in the middle. Pavement is less the optional, so control your descent speed.
Reaching the bottom, you come out again along a short beautiful stretch of Cheat River. Leaving the river as it goes to the other side of the valley you have some more short steep rollers before crossing the river again and coming back to route 72. Take a left on route 72 for the final 1.7 miles to Parsons. When arriving in Parsons, I cut left toward the Five Rivers Campground and take the back streets toward the courthouse to avoid the Route 72 - US 219 intersection.
Parsons to U.S. 219. The Sheets store in Parsons is a good (and last) place to top off your water battles for the last part of the ride. You pick up the Allegheny Highland Rail Trail parking behind the old train station in back of Sheetz, Bearing right on the rail trail, you head South toward Elkins on the trail. You soon arrive at the Corricks Ford Battlefield site. You will want to take the time to read the interpretive signs. Past the Corricks Ford site, you come to the Kingsford Charcoal Plant. with its huge pile of wood chips. I've always loved the smell of wood chips. Be cautious of trucks entering and leaving the plant. Continuing on the trail you will arrive at Porterwood, where a there is a kiosk and more trail parking. You will come alongside County 39. At the kiosk, you will do a 180 degree turn onto route 39, which leads you up Shavers Fork of Cheat. This is the route the Confederate Army took to Corricks Ford. The road here skirts the valley along the edge of the mountain with numerous rollers. 2.4 miles from Porterwood, the road make a sharp downhill right turn and comes to an intersection. Route 39 continues up river to the left and County 47 comes in from straight ahead. You want to continue straight onto route 47 past Irons Chapel.
Two miles on route 47 along Pleasant Run brings you to the 1.7 mile climb to the county line at the summit of Cheat Mountain. The last quarter mile of the climb is the steepest. At the summit, Tucker Co. 47 becomes Randolph Co. 3 at the top. You descent from the summit on Co. 3 to the intersection of U.S. 219. From the summit, you have a pretty easy 10.9 miles back to the finish.
U.S. 219 to Elkins: Continuing straight across U.S 219 you take a left on Co. 3/3 and head south toward Elkins past some beautiful farms. Taking a right on Co. 7 at the Isner Farm, you go one mile to finish the lower loop and follow Co. 1 and the railtrail back to Elkins. You have a relatively flat trip back to Elkins.