Greenbrier River Trail | West Virginia Rails To Trails

Rail-Trails

Photo Credit: Daniel Boyd

The Greenbrier River Trail is a 78-mile former railroad now used for hiking, biking and horseback riding. It is the longest trail of its kind in West Virginia. The trail provides many breath taking views as it passes through several small towns, crosses 35 bridges, goes through two tunnels and cuts through some of West Virginia’s most remote areas.

The Greenbrier River Trail is one of 50 Millennium Legacy Trails in the United States, and was rated one of the top 10 hiking trails in the country by Backpacker Magazine. Cell phones work most places on the trail except for the upper reaches near the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

West Virginia’s beautiful Greenbrier River Trail is one of America’s premier rail-trails. Most of the trail runs along the gorgeous Greenbrier River and passes through the picturesque countryside as it winds through the river valley. There is no doubt you will see many species of interesting wildlife along this wonderful trail.

Today, the trail is operated and maintained by West Virginia State Parks, but it was originally built for use by one of the many West Virginia railroads that served the once prospering local timber industry. Now the trail is for recreational use, with overnight campsites and many restroom and water facilities scattered along its route. The trail hosts the popular annual Great Greenbrier River Race: canoeing, biking and running.

Even though the mile posts start at the southern end of the Greenbrier River Trail, it’s best to start your trip on the slightly uphill grade at the northern end at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and follow the river downstream.

If you have planned for a longer trip, be sure to take the time to explore the nearby West Fork Trail, which begins north of Cass in the community of Durbin. The 22-mile trail winds northward through spectacular scenery with forested mountain backdrops.

Heading south on the Greenbrier River Trail, the first town you will pass is Clover Lick, a lovely little Appalachian town with rustic remnants of the old railroad depot that once served the booming logging industry.

Beyond the Clover Lick trailhead, the trail proceeds south, winding 20 miles downstream through some of the most scenic and remote wilderness landscapes in West Virginia. This section ends at the only large town you will encounter along the trail—Marlinton—that hosts some great lunch spots and B&Bs. You can find a trailside information center in Marlinton’s old train station near mile 55. As you proceed south from Marlinton, you will cross the river twice before reaching the halfway point at Beard.

One of the great things about the Greenbrier River Trail is the opportunity to see remnants of the old railroad, including many whistleposts and historical mile markers. Beyond Beard (mile post 31) is one of the trails’ two spectacular tunnels: the 402-foot-long Droop Mountain Tunnel, built in 1900, and Sharps Tunnel, 511 feet long and built in 1899.

Continuing south, beyond Anthony (at mile 15), the trail crosses two old railroad bridges and eventually reaches its southern terminus at North Caldwell (mile post 3). This trailhead is located just outside Lewisburg, which has a variety of shops, restaurants, and lodging.

Trail Manager Contact

WV Division of Natural Resources

Greenbrier River Trail State Park
4800 Watoga Park Road
Marlinton, West Virginia 24954
304-799-4087
http://www.greenbrierrailtrailstatepark.com/
greenbrierrivertrail@wv.gov

 

Notes

Millenium Legacy Trail. For more information visit…

Greenbrier River Trail State Park
http://www.greenbrierrailtrailstatepark.com/

Trail of the Month, June 2012
http://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/2012/june/01/greenbrier-river-trail-west-virginia/

Greenbrier River Trail Association
Website.  http://greenbrierrivertrail.com     Email.  greenbrierrta@gmail.com

Trail Stats

Trail Status Open
Trail End Points Southern end: Stonehouse Rd. near I-64 (North Caldwell), Lat, Long: 37.793865, -80.380345. Northern end: Deer Creek Road parking lot, off Back Mountain Road (Rt 66), just south of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. Lat, Long: 38.392125, -79.922454.
Counties Greenbrier, Pocahontas
Trail Length 77 Miles
Activities Mountain Biking, Walking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Cross Country Skiiing, Camping
Trail Surface Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail Link Profile TrailLink.com Profile
Parking and Trail Access

To reach the northern trailhead at Cass, take US 219 to State Route 66 east; or take SR 28 to SR 66 west and look for the trailhead at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park along SR 66 (Back Mountain Road).

To reach the southern trailhead at North Caldwell, take Interstate 64 east and take Exit 175 to US 60 west. Take this 2.7 miles to SR 38/Stone House Road. If you’re coming from I-64 west, take Exit 169 to US 219 north, then take this 0.5 mile to SR 30/Brush Road. From here, drive another 0.5 miles to SR 38/Stone House Road.