I try to live life downhill these days. While my modus operandi has always been to have the most fun possible, I recently added “while not killing myself” as an addendum. Since Work = Force x Distance, I figure the best way to put this newly-minted 40-year-old body to the test is by increasing distance instead of force. Naturally, upon first hearing of the idea of being dropped off for a one-way downhill ride, I became obnoxiously excited. For me, the ability to extricate oneself from society for an hour or more while utilizing a three-percent perpetual downhill grade complete with country chic scenery, manicured pathway, and a bonus pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ranks highly in the annals of my ongoing search.
The whole Deckers Creek Trail covers 19 miles from just west of Reedsville to its intersection with the Monongahela River. Over that span, it drops over 1,000 vertical feet, with nearly all of the descent coming after Masontown, which is 12 miles out from Marilla Park. Marilla Park makes a great place to leave the shuttle vehicle, or if you have a penchant for East Coast IPAs, you can drop a car at Beertopia and pedal the back roads of East Brockway to the taphouse. After dropping off your shuttle vehicle, head up Route 7 to Masontown— the trail access is across from the Masontown Fire Hall. From here, it’s all downhill.
The 12-mile one-way downhill section takes about an hour without stopping, although the descent is not something that I suggest you rush.
Deckers Creek cascades through boulders along shores of rhododendron, hemlock, and ferns. The water color can be emerald-turquoise during dry spells and the quality has drastically improved thanks to Friends of Decker’s Creek (FODC), the creek’s advocacy organization who has tirelessly revived this watershed from the environmental byproducts of mining. When riding the trail in the summer, I highly recommend bringing a swimsuit, towel, lunch spread, and your beverage of choice. There are a number of spots along the way to enjoy a picnic on a sunny boulder in the stream or on a shaded, mossy bank. At the folly of revealing my favorite fishing holes, the section across from the Lion’s Club pull-off on Route 7 has multiple waterfalls and rock outcrops. You can even bring a snorkeling mask as the pool is deep enough to swim and play under one of the three waterfalls in this section.
For those of you who search out cheap thrills and have lived life fast, but now may have the proverbial albatross of time, money, progeny or gerontology circling around your head, this is the day trip for you. If you have children, you can bribe them with finishing up at Marilla Park and if you don’t, you can always shoot for that golden pint at Beertopia. For more information, visit www.wvrailtrails.org, and for contributions to improve the watershed, visit, volunteer, or dontate to FODC at www.deckerscreek.org.
Ryan Keuhn is a Morgantown resident and recently joined the Quadragenarian Club.