Barnum Rail-Trail

West Virginia

5 Reviews

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Barnum Rail-Trail Facts

States: West Virginia
Counties: Mineral
Length: 4.2 miles
Trail end points: Barnum Rd. (Barnum) and North Branch Potomac River (south of Piedmont)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Dirt, Grass
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017242

Barnum Rail-Trail Description

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 Though there is no official signage marking the end of the trail, it becomes apparent where the corridor is no longer maintained.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.

Parking and Trail Access

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.

Barnum Rail-Trail Reviews

Gorgeous scenery.

We did the Barnum Rail Trail on Labor Day, September 4, 2023. It’s rough, in places, but the scenery and pristine nature make it worth it. Idyllic, actually. I wish the trail was longer than 4 plus miles.

Great Kayak bike Shuttle

Fun ride last time I did it. Can be a bit bumpy in spots. I did see about 13 Copperheads sunning themselves on the route and one Rattlesnake, so sweep your corners.

Not typical rail trail - more suitable for mountain bikes

Rode on 29 Jul 2020. This is a rugged trail, really need mountain bike with off road tires, etc. And it is hard to reach. Watch Google - it will try to take you through closed road through the COE land at the reservoir, leading to a 20 mile back track. There is no easy way to get here. If you can handle the rough conditions, the river views are fantastic. But a long drive for a 4 mile out and back ride.

Solitary, short, easy on the eye.

Mountain bikes preferred or a hybrid with trail tires. It's a ways to travel for a short ride but we'll worth the time. Consider visiting Savage River Road while you are in the area. Not a Rails to trail and narrow at times but beautiful.


A beautifull October ride

I made the short drive down from Deep Creek Lake during the Autumn Glory Festival for a solitary morning ride. The trail, river, and wildlife delivered. There were a few small limbs and trees to hop over, so a mountain bike is best on this trail. The morning of the ride I would have declared Barnum a 5 Star Rail Trail, but when I returned to Deep Creek I noticed the mud and ballast material kicked up by my tires stained my shirt, so 4 stars it is. I look forward to riding this trail again in an older shirt.

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