(WVNS) –  A project over a decade in the making is finally nearing completion.

Construction is underway on the Meadow River Rail Trail, a 24 mile trail between Fayette and Greenbrier Counties. The trail will provide much more public access to the Meadow River, one of Southern West Virginia’s hidden treasures.

Project Coordinator Matt Ford, said the Meadow River has something for any outdoor enthusiast, from long stretches fit for kayaking to intense whitewater rapids

 “There’s whitewater rafting, there’s horseback riding, there’s fishing, the kayaking.,” said Ford. “The good thing about the Meadow is the trail has flat water and whitewater, so all age groups, all skill levels, will be able to use different sections of the river.”

Making those attractions much easier to access will help the areas surrounding the Meadow River bring in more tourists. Something Ford said will benefit the area greatly.

“It should be a huge economic driver. When people come to visit and use an area they otherwise wouldn’t, you hope they stay. You hope they spend money. You hope they decide to live here, and start a business, and raise their family, and all those good things that come from good tourism,“ said Ford.

The project is fully funded and construction on an 8 mile stretch of trail near Nallen in Fayette County is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2022.

Ford said even though it’s been difficult to access the Meadow River until now, those who know about the hidden gem have been enjoying it for many years. He just hopes that by making it more accessible, everyone will have a chance to enjoy one of southern West Virginia’s most picturesque stretches of river.

“It already brings people here. Even though the trail is closed, there are people now that are taking kayaks down and going down the river,” said Ford. “So we’re hoping that the trail access will increase the ability for people to use the whitewater in addition to what you would typically do on a non-motorized trail.”

If you’re planning on spending time out on the river this year, it’s important to understand river safety.

CEO of Adventures on the Gorge Roger Wilson, saidwhen people sign up with his company for a rafting trip, he makes sure they understand the most important things: respect the river and listen to your guide.

“The rafting’s a ton of fun, but it’s a lot of fun with a lot of respect,” said Wilson. “So when we go rafting we’ll have to have a PFD, personal floatation device, a helmet, and the guides will go over a lot of safety information.”

Wilson says when it comes to kayaking, it’s important to never go into rough or deep waters alone, especially for inexperienced kayakers.