The Mon River North, Mon River South, Caperton, and Decker Creek Trails form an interlinked network of over fifty miles of trails along the Monongahela River in and around Morgantown, West Virginia. These trails all reflect the work of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which converts former rail lines into trails and greenways. This system is under active expansion with plans to link it to other trails and trail systems in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The paved Caperton Trail in the heart of Morgantown is a great place to start. Most local guides recommend parking at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Lakefront Park, where there is ample parking, restrooms, and other amenities. Do note the park's hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. if you park and start here. The Caperton Trail continues through urban areas where you'll have access to shops and restaurants, such as the dog-friendly Mountain State Brewing Company just to the south of McQuain Park, as well as through wilder forested areas and several additional parks.
At the northern terminus of the Caperton Trail, you can continue along the six miles of the Mon River Trail North to the Pennsylvania border. At the southern terminus of the Caperton Trail just outside of the city, you can continue southwest along the Mon River Trail South for eighteen miles to Prickett's Fort State Park or southeast along the Deckers Creek Trail for nineteen miles to Reedsburg. The three outer trails are crushed stone trails that provide beautiful views of waterfalls and forests along the river, as well as of farmland and more pastoral scenery.
For wilder views, head south. The Mon River South Trail runs along the river through dense woodland and past old rail trestles, while the Deckers Creek Trail runs past rock faces and shaded dells where the wide creek sometimes breaks into rapids. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring, including rhododendron, and leaves are a riot of color in the fall. Wildlife you may see using the river include raccoons, foxes, kingfishers, beavers, bald eagles, black bears, white-tailed deer, osprey, crayfish, and green and blue herons.
If you're ever in or around Morgantown, don't hesitate to map your own dog-friendly adventure through nature and history along these beautiful trails.