Open Carry on Rail Trails


captain obvious
December 6, 2004, 08:57 PM
I bike a lot on the rail trails here in Monoghelia County, WV, and as some of the trails go through rather isolated sections of the county, I have wanted to open carry while riding for some time. Under the Rail Trail etiquette guide for the trails, it is listed "no firearms or hunting from the trail."

Does this legally restrict one from carrying a defensive weapon on the rail trails here, or may I carry if I am only doing so for self defense (not for hunting)?

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December 6, 2004, 10:06 PM
etiquette guide

Etiquette are suggestions. I'd say if open carry is legal in your state, you'd be good to go.


December 6, 2004, 10:44 PM
In Kansas a large portion of "rail trails" are private property. The railroads simply gave the easements back to the property owners. Many owners don't allows hunting/firearms. In some areas they don't even allow you to use the trails without written permission. If the area you are in is private property you could have some problems. Just a thought.


December 7, 2004, 09:59 AM
I normally don't comment on spelling, but Monongalia is not a common word. Monongalia County, on the Monongahela River. I believe that the county name was originally a misspelling of the river name. :)

December 9, 2004, 03:46 AM
In Morgantown, BOPARC operates the trails and signs are everywhere. The trails are for the most part private property and subject to regulation by property owners. I feel fine carrying concealed, but the trails are sheeple rich environment. I think it would be an exceeding bad idea to carry unconcealed (inside city limits) unless you are looking to get to know your local LEO's.

West Virginia's searchable code page is offline. I seem to remember there is a "trespasss while armed on property" and a "trespass while armed in a structure/conveyence", but both require "intent to do harm" IIRC.

OT: Let me know when you go to the range next time.


captain obvious
December 9, 2004, 05:26 PM
I have found, so far, on the trails that I ride that there is almost no one on the trails. I was on the decker's creek trail on tuesday morning, and other than a few hunters, I saw not a soul. With that, one wonders if anyone would care if someone is carrying.

Also, I'm certain WV has an open carry statute. So long as one is not carrying on University property, not endangering others, and is not drunk or intoxicated, what is one doing wrong by open carrying, and why is it the business of the MPD?

December 9, 2004, 07:37 PM
I would try to do more research on the legal status of the rail trails. Here's why.

There is (or was) an organization called "Rails to Trails" that a few years ago was instrumental in setting up a lot of these hiking/biking trails on old RR rights-of-way. They operated under a federal law which, if I recall correctly, was called something like the National Railbanking Act. The premise of the law was to preserve abandoned RR rights-of-way so that, in the future, if this country ever regained its sanity and started shipping by train again instead of trying to build still more highways, the rights-of-way would be there, ready and waiting.

I thought this was a great idea, and for a couple of years I contributed to this group. Then I read something in one of their mailings that caused me to wonder. So I called, and I asked what would happen if in an unspecified number of years, a railroad decided it wanted to start up again and actually use one of these "railbanked" R-O-Ws for a railroad. The response? "Oh, we would oppose that very strongly."

The open question is, if the trail to which you refer was created using the federal railbanking law, that law may provide some provisions as to whether or not the trail is, in fact, private property, or if it in fact a permanent easement ACROSS private property, open to the public. If the latter, it is likely that state law applies and the landowner can't prevent open carry if legal under state law.

Rabid Rabbit
December 9, 2004, 08:53 PM
What Hawkmoon has said about rails to trails agrees with what I know about the subject of rails to trails easements, property rights etc....I remember in southern VA a couple years ago farmers and other land owners were blocking access and lost in court. I can't completly blame the farmers some of the trail users just don't respect other peoples property and livlihood.

The main reason I got a VA CCW is because I decided against open carry. The articles I've read about people being robbed on the trails indicates the apparent push over targets (I look like one) get their path blocked then robbed, the targets that look like they can defend themselves seem to get knocked over then robbed. I prefer the blocked path. Besides a little surprise is good for the soul.

I carry in touring shorts that look like cargo shorts, not the spandex shorts that make me look like a beached orca.

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