CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State officials on Wednesday unveiled plans to build a rail trail along the Elk River and Buffalo Creek with the opportunity for a network that would be the second-longest rail trail east of the Mississippi River.

The plan involves utilizing 72 miles of existing lines in Clay and Kanawha counties, which will be divided into two sections; the Elk River Trail is planned for 54 miles between Clendenin and Duck, running adjacent to the Elk River. The Buffalo Creek Trail would run 18 miles from the Clay area to Widen.

Both sections would allow for various tourism opportunities including kayaking, hiking and biking.

When the trail is complete, it will be the second-longest in the state behind the Greenbrier River Trail.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, spoke favorably of the plan during a press conference.

“People all over the country, all over the world look for places where they can experience the kind of outdoor recreation that we have literally in our backyard,” he said. “Those people are already coming here.”

Gov. Jim Justice said he hopes to attract different types of outdoor enthusiasts to the state.

“It is hard to fathom 72 miles of a park where people can enjoy everything from swimming to boating to fishing to kayaking to everything to hiking and on and on and on. It is unbelievable what this will do for an area in our state that is starving for this,” the governor said.

The new trails are scheduled to open in summer 2020.