The brand new Rock & Roll mountain bike trail behind the Nature Center at Cacapon State Park is being threatened by a proposal to put in a recreational vehicle campsite.
Last month, Brad Reed, Chief of West Virginia State Parks, put out a request for proposals to develop the campground and additional recreational facilities such as “winter sports, zip line, ropes courses, mountain coaster and bicycle rental.”
At a pre-bid conference for vendors this week at the Cacapon State Lodge, only one vendor showed up – Blue Water – a developer in the mid-atlantic region with properties that include a number of Jellystone Parks and Kampgrounds of America (KOA).
“We have received and are currently reviewing the Cacapon State Park RFP,” Emily Demarco of Blue Water told Morgan County USA. “We do plan on submitting a response by the deadline of March 3, 2023.”
Blue Water is looking to put in up to 250 RV campsites behind the Nature Center at Cacapon. The concrete RV campsites would pave over the 2.2 mile Rock & Roll Trail.
The Rock & Roll Trail was developed with public grants in coordination with state park officials and with hundreds of hours of volunteer labor. Officially opened in 2021, it is the first machine-built and professionally designed trail at Cacapon.
In the past couple of years, hundreds of young people and their families have been drawn to the bike trails at Cacapon State Park to attend events sponsored by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and Girls Riding Together.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” said one mountain bike rider who was “dumbfounded” when he heard of Blue Water’s proposal to pave over the trail.
“The developer wants to pave the Rock & Roll area and put in up to 250 RV spots,” this person said.
State park officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Local residents are concerned not just about the paving over of the recently built bike trail but also how many trees will be cut down, how much runoff there will be into Indian Run, which runs into Sleepy Creek, and additional light and noise pollution.
No one close to the situation was willing to go on the record in opposition to the plan at this early stage, but there is clear animosity toward state park leaders who first supported and helped develop the bike trails but now want to push through what many consider an ill-conceived development plan that would destroy the trails and usher in the fundamental transformation of Cacapon State Park from tranquil natural beauty to a Jellystone-like park.
The inclusion of mountain coasters in the requests for proposals raised eyebrows among local residents.
The closest mountain coaster is at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland.
A mountain coaster is described by Wisp as “a gravitational hybrid of an Alpine Slide and a Roller Coaster boasting a 1,300-foot uphill track while twisting, turning, dipping and rolling for 3,500 feet downhill over 350 vertical feet on the eastern side of Wisp Mountain.”