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Nestled in a northern valley of West Virginia, the Barnum Rail-Trail follows the North Branch Potomac River through the superb scenery of the Upper Potomac region. If you plan to explore this out-and-back trail by bike, a mountain bike is the best choice for tackling the packed ballast surface.
The trail begins in the very small community of Barnum, just north of Jennings Randolph Lake in Mineral County. The trailhead (the only access point for this route) is very pleasant, with ample parking, restroom facilities and a small park overlooking the Potomac River that offers access to incredible fishing.
Exercise caution for the first mile; the trail is open to vehicular traffic, though you probably won't encounter too many cars at this remote location. Beyond the large parking area and a closed gate, the remaining 3 miles are strictly non-motorized.
After the gate, the trail heads into the open and offers stunning views of the vibrant Potomac. Lush hillsides rise on either side of the river, and the trail hugs the west slope while the water churns and flows immediately to your left for the next 2 miles.
The trail then enters a densely wooded area—a landscape it maintains to its northern endpoint about a mile ahead. You can hear the active rapids only a few hundred feet away at any given time. Though there is no official signage marking the end of the trail, it becomes apparent where the corridor is no longer maintained. At this point, simply turn around and enjoy the ride or walk back.
To access the trailhead for this out-and-back trail, take US 220 south from Keyser and then head west on US 50. After 7 miles, take a right on State Route 42 and then bear right onto SR 46. Once in Cross, take a left on Barnum Road and follow it to the end. The trail will be on the right.
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