Garrett County Government - Department of Business Development

Garrett Trails Hires New Director

Last Updated on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:38am | Tourism & Recreation

Article courtesy of NCWV Media - The Republican. Staff Writer: Brenda Ruggiero. Submitted photo.
Josh Spiker, Executive Director of Garrett TrailsThe board of directors for Garrett Trails has announced that Josh Spiker will serve as the organization’s new executive director.
“Josh has been a life-long resident of Garrett County and graduated from Northern High School and shares a love for the outdoors, which made him the perfect candidate,” said Mike Dreisbach, Garrett Trails president. “Garrett Trails and Garrett County are extremely lucky to have Josh take over the position and we are certain that he will continue to build on the positive that has made our organization a major success in the tourism business for Garrett County.”
Spiker said he grew up in Sang Run.
“I was a typical Garrett County kid in the ‘80s and ‘90s, snow skiing, water skiing, hunting and fishing,” he said. “Conservation meant many things to many different people around me, so as a kid, I absorbed those various perspectives while exploring and building my relationship with the natural world.”
He said he was able to explore a lot of the Youghiogheny River from Sang Run to Friendsville on his own, “an incredibly rugged backcountry that still lent itself to Sunday afternoon thru hikes with friends and family. Old railroad grades, former logging roads and game trails formed a pathway that I was able to walk in the spirit of the original settlers of Friendsville and Sang Run.”
Prior to his selection, Spiker worked in numerous operations management roles in residential construction, recreation hospitality and as a project consultant for security and technology contracts at Camp Dawson in Kingwood, W.Va.
In 2010, Spiker worked for Garrett Trails as trail foreman, leading the first phase construction of trails in the Fork Run Recreational Area. The 9.5 miles of trails in Fork Run support hiking, mountain biking, orienteering and rock climbing.
“Growing up on the rivers and trails in Garrett County, I learned firsthand how valuable our natural heritage is, and appreciate how important it is to share those spaces and experiences within our community, as well as with those that come to visit,” Spiker said.
In addition to his prior experience, Spiker recently earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience at West Virginia University.
While attending school he was treasurer of the Earth Sciences Honor Society, coach for the WVU ski club and a volunteer in the NICU at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Since his spring graduation, he has been traveling throughout Utah, Arizona and Montana in an effort to apply real-world observations to the geoscientific principles learned in school.
While in Utah, he volunteered with the adaptive whitewater rafting program for the National Ability Center.
Garrett Trails is a nonprofit formed in 2008 with a mission to provide sustainable hiking and biking trails that enhance community well-being and economic development within the county.
Spiker noted that the work Garrett Trails is doing connecting different parts of the county is really “a return to our roots. My early experiences developed in me the belief that in order for people to protect and appreciate our natural heritage, they have to engage with it.”
He said the volunteer board of directors has worked hard over the past 20 years (nearly 10 as a commissioner task force, and incorporated as a nonprofit since 2008.)
“That hard work, plus the success of the Garrett County Gran Fondo and Taste of Garrett, has positioned us well,” he said. “I’ve also been tasked with finding new and expansive funding sources for projects like the Eastern Continental Divide Loop. While state and federal grant programs are invaluable to our work, I’m committed to increasing donor awareness and engagement so that we can develop legacy donations from within the community.”
In addition to securing funds through donations, fundraising and grants, he said he plans to expand the group’s volunteer corps.
“Immediately upon accepting the position, I had people approaching me asking where they can help,” he said. “We will make sure that they have the information and the tools to go out into the parks, forests and other public lands and do meaningful work.”
He also plans to work to add adaptive access to certain trail segments and features like the deck overlook on the Meadow Mountain Trail.
“Creating trails for all users of all ages and abilities is very important to me,” he said.
Spiker currently lives in Sang Run with his year-old yellow lab, Buster. He said he enjoys the accessibility to the outdoors and watching Garrett County grow and change.
“I embrace it because I recognize our adaptability as the primary factor for future growth,” he said. “My favorite part of this work is meeting people working to make positive impacts on Garrett County.”