The Narrow Gauge Trail in Babcock State Park follows the gentle grade of what was the Manns Creek Railway, which connected Clifftop to Sewell, until it closed in 1956. The trail is breathtaking, but be warned: If you are not an accomplished mountain biker, you should consider it a hiking trail. The name rings true, as the trail is very narrow, tends to sit less than a foot away from a cliff over a shallow creek and is occasionally blocked by boulders, forcing you to scale the cliff a bit on trail detours.
Before heading out on the trail, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the Glade Creek Grist Mill, arguably the most photographed site in West Virginia. Built in 1976 from parts of older mills found all over West Virginia, its design is based on the 1890 Stoney Creek Grist Mill. The Glad Creek Mill is fully operational and offers park guests freshly ground buckwheat, whole-wheat flour and cornmeal during the summer (closed in winter).
From Cabin #13, which you can rent from Babcock State Park, it is almost 1 mile downhill to the official start of the Narrow Gauge Trail. Along the trail, Manns Creek provides the soundtrack while you travel through a beautiful example of a typical West Virginia mountain forest, with secondary hardwood and pine trees peppered among rhododendron bushes. The trail ends between the Babcock State Park campgrounds and the stables.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach either end of the trail from US 19, take the US 60 Exit and head east for 10 miles to State Route 41, heading south. The trail can be accessed from the campground, which is 2 miles south of US 60 at Clifftop (the trail begins on the service road between the campgrounds and the stables). This entrance is open only in summer.
The trail also can be accessed from the main park entrance, a little farther south on SR 41, behind Cabin #13. Follow the signs to Cabin #13 from the entrance. Go behind the Glade Creek Grist Mill and follow that road (Old Sewell Road) past the cabins to the official start of the trail at the fork of the creek. The trail is downhill from the cabins to the campground.