A New Monday in Marlinton

By ,

March 28, 2024


Pocahontas County's new Monday Lick Trail System is more than a world-class mountain biking destination in the Monongahela National Forest; it's a new model for public-private collaboration in regional outdoor recreation development.

Pocahontas County's Cheat Mountain Riders on the Monday Lick Trail

The first day of the week gets a bit of a bad rap- whether you’re heading back to the office or the classroom, many of us weekend warriors need an extra-strong cup of coffee before returning to the everyday routine. But on Monday, October 30th, 2023, not even the chilly wind of an overcast day could dampen the spirits of those gathered at Marlinton’s Stillwell Park pavilion. As kids of all ages zipped around practicing bike tricks, congressional staff chatted with members of the US Forest Service and local stakeholders about the start of a new era of recreation in Pocahontas County years in the making.

In 2019, the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center (SHRC) joined the International Mountain Biking Association’s (IMBA) exclusive list of Bronze-Level Ride Centers, the first of its kind in West Virginia. The designation underscored not only the Mon’s rising status as a premier mountain biking destination but also reflected Snowshoe Highlands Area Recreation Collaborative’s (SHARC) commitment to community-driven sustainable recreation. Despite their monumental achievement, however, the collaborative wasted no time resting on their laurels- they were going for Gold by 2025.

Mountain Bikers Ride through fall leaves on Monday Lick Trail

The “Shoe’s” technically challenging trail network, which extends into the Tea Creek, Slatyfork, and Mower Basin systems of the Monongahela National Forest, quickly became a fan-favorite, hosting a suite of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cup events in 2019, 2021, and 2022. As the eyes of the world returned to the Mon in 2023, with mountain bikers from across the globe assembling in Pocahontas County for the UCI Downhill, Cross-Country, and Short-Track World Series, the partnership was forging ahead, ready to strike it big less than five minutes from downtown Marlinton. Helmed by Appalachian Dirt and Rock Solid construction, the 27 miles of bike-optimized, multiple-use, single-track trails leaped off the drawing board and into reality under the name “Monday Lick.

“Monday Lick is the first recreational construction project the Appalachian Regional Commission has ever funded.”


Pocahontas County CVB Director Chelsea Faulkiner at Podium Speaking about Monday Lick

Pocahontas County CVB Director Chelsea Faulkiner Touches Upon Importance of Monday Lick Trail System

As the Town of Marlinton’s mayor, Sam Felton, approached the podium, a hush fell over the assembly of kids and equally eager adults. After thanking the gathered partners, including Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Poca Trails, West Virginia University Extension Service, Region 4 Planning & Development Council, USDA Forest Service, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and the Mon Forest Towns Partnership among others, Felton announced, with a palpable degree of excitement and pride [Monday Lick] is the first recreational construction project the Appalachian Regional Commission has ever funded… a model for projects in the future. The 1.5 million dollar ARC Power grant, awarded in 2022, is part of a larger federal initiative designed to support rural communities impacted by job loss due to industry decline throughout Appalachia. In addition to ARC funding, significant contributions from Snowshoe, the USDA Forest Service, and the Benedum Foundation helped bring this project to life.

Funding Distribution for Monday Lick Trails Projecy

Felton continued, Determination and perseverance make the impossible possible.” This sentiment was echoed by Snowshoe’s Vice President of Mountain Operations, Ken Gaitor, who remarked, You can’t imagine how many people came together on this trail… it’s okay to dream on a level beyond what is in front of you.

“We could see a five to sevenfold increase in visitors to the region.”


Students from Marlinton Elementary School and Pocahontas County’s Youth Mountain Biking Program join Stakeholders for the Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting.

Students from Marlinton Elementary School and Pocahontas County’s Youth Mountain Biking Program join Monday Lick Stakeholders for the Ceremonial Monday Lick Ribbon Cutting.

Before the ceremonial ribbon had even hit the ground, members of Pocahontas County’s youth mountain bike program, the Cheat Mountain Salamanders, were already pedaling toward the future. Those of us without wheels climbed into a waiting Mountain Transit bus for the short ride to the trailhead. On the way, Marlinton’s mayor beamed with excitement when discussing Monday Lick’s potential, Gold-Level Status won’t double or even triple the number of visitors; they are saying we could see a five to sevenfold increase in visitors to the region. This statement wasn’t idle speculation- an economic analysis of state tourism data by WVU concluded that new Gold-Status trails in the region would equate to an additional economic impact of about $45,000,000.”

Young Mountain Bike Riders Depart Marlinton's Stillwell Park for the Trails after the Ribbon Cutting Event

Cheat Mountain Salamanders Depart Marlinton’s Stillwell Park for Monday Lick Trails

While the Cheat Mountain Salamanders raced up and down the finished portions of the track, several passing riders on the adjacent 77-mile Greenbrier River Trail reminded us that Monday Lick will be more than a playground for professional mountain bikers. The stacked loop system at Monday Lick has been tailored to accommodate riders of all skill levels, serving as another node in the expanding network of trails that unite our Mon Forest Towns, connecting tourists and locals alike with world-class recreation opportunities found nowhere else in the world. As we prepared to depart, a young man tumbled off his bike when approaching a sharp turn. Within seconds, his fellow riders had surrounded him, launching words of encouragement into the wind as he dusted himself off. Before his mother could let out a sigh, he was back in the saddle, effortlessly gliding down the trail, disappearing behind the trickle of late autumn leaves and the trunks of trees. In Marlinton, Monday has a new meaning- it’s not the end of the weekend; it’s the start of something new.

Stakeholders, USDA employees, and mountain biker riders meet at the Monday Lick Trailhead

USDA Forest Service Employees and Mountain Bikers at the Monday Lick Trailhead

Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton wields Ceremonial Scissors Following Ribbon Cutting at Monday Lick

Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton wields the Ceremonial Scissors Following Ribbon Cutting at Monday Lick