Bethany Trails 7993BETHANY, W.Va. – Students and community members responded in droves to a call to clean up the Bethany College Trail System.

About 170 people spent four hours Sunday, Sept. 15, on numerous improvement projects, including removing debris from the area and widening the trail tread. In addition, groups repaired the Classroom Trail, installed a stream crossing on the Waterfall Trail and cut several switchbacks into the Waterfall and Weimer Trails, event organizer John Rodenberg said.

Benches were also installed above the waterfall for hiker enjoyment.

Overall, the trails might be in their best condition ever, Rodenberg said.

Bethany sophomore Hunter Tenney manned a registration table and worked as a crew leader for a group that filled in low spots at the front the trail.

He noted that many groups turned out, including Greek life, sports teams, student organizations, community members, and even high school clubs.

Bethany Trails 8059Perhaps making the number of volunteers even more impressive is that the event was just a week after a Special Olympics Field Day on campus drew more than 150 volunteers.

“It really helps me to see that even though Bethany is so small, we come together,” said Tenney, who was also among the Special Olympics volunteers. “It’s a close-knit community, and there is always someone you can go to. You just need to know where to look.”

The Student Conservation Association provided the tools and joined members of the event planning team in leading 20 separate work crews.

Marc Chernenko ’78, a Bethany College trustee, said the trail cleanup project ranks among the biggest volunteer efforts on campus.

“I was overwhelmed by the turnout, not just by the number of volunteers but by the diversity of groups involved,” Chernenko said.

The Bethany Trails feature five interconnected trails that cover four miles. The trails are used by hundreds of people every year.

Chernenko said the trails have been part of campus for as long as he can remember, but their popularity waxes and wanes with trends and the professors’ interest. Before Sunday, he said the trails were rugged and primitive when he last visited the area.

He expects the recent improvements to make the trails a more popular destination.

“The trails will be easier to use, and, as a result, there will be considerable more use,” Chernenko said. “It really is a field of dreams event. It you build it, they will come, and in this case if they are maintained they will be used.”

The Bethany Trail System is an asset of the Parkinson Forest, a mature, Old Growth Forest that is one of the few still in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.