Trails could be a boost for our area

I recently heard a local business official talking about the need to go out and create our own opportunities.

So often, he said, we sit back and wait for things to happen. We expect projects, development and growth to happen on its own.

Instead, he suggests, we look around at what we have, look for ways to grow it, promote it and attract new opportunities through our existing resources.

He’s right, of course, and I?believe, to some extent, our recreational trails are one area we definitely could use to improve ourselves and our region.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve regularly used any of our local recreational trails, but I can definitely recognize their value.

I live near the Panhandle Trail, and often see people walking or riding their bicycle there. Driving to Wheeling and through Wellsburg, I see the same thing.

A few weeks ago, there was even a bicycle race through a portion of the region which used some of these trails.

Today, about 300 people from across the country are set to arrive in Weirton simply to begin a bicycle ride to Cumberland, Md.

Along the way, they will be camping, visiting landmarks and enjoying other activities along the various recreational trails in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Wouldn’t it be great if a trip like that could become an annual occurrence for our area? Wouldn’t it be great if it could encourage additional businesses as a result. Hotels, restaurants, bicycle repair shops and sporting good stores would be of big use for people on these types of journeys.

People are always looking for ways to be active.

These trails are among our local options, and are surely becoming a tremendous resource which should be a focus when discussing the Ohio Valley.

We have a series of trails that follows along the Ohio River, providing a great view of some of our communities and natural surroundings.

Our trail system also includes connections to trails leading through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, leading to Washington, D.C. and probably beyond.

There are people who talk about taking weeks to get away and hike portions of the Appalachian Trail through the mountains, crossing into several states.

Why couldn’t this be similar?

People could come to our area, stay in our hotels, visit our parks, museums and other attractions and then take off on a multi-day journey on their bicycles.

There are groups who want to expand our recreational trail system, hoping to eventually connect many, if not all, of them. That would mean being able to ride, run, or walk from Weirton to Wheeling, or from Wheeling to Midway, Pa., or even cross the Ohio River, creating a truly regional system.

Personally, I hope this effort does move forward, even though I?realize it will take a lot of time and effort from some incredibly dedicated individuals.

We can’t go anywhere without people willing to use what we already have, do the work and look for a new vision.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)