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West Virginia's beautiful Greenbrier River Trail is one of America's premier rail-trails and popular with bicyclists, hikers, walkers and cross-country skiers. Most of the trail runs along the gorgeous Greenbrier River and passes through 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 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.
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 mile to SR 38/Stone House Road.
I am a section cyclist who over time has completed all sections of the 77 mile Trail. The Trail has no bad sections. Traillink’s Greenbrier River Trail description and reviews give complete and accurate information on the Trail. I will not repeat. I share three observations.
First, if you have time to do only one section, this is the one. It is in the Northern Section between Clover Lick southward to Sharp’s Tunnel and bridge. This Trail section has the most scenic and remote mountains. It is a ‘gorge’ with the mountains sloping down to each side of the River with a mountain sharing the Trail on one side. No roads or houses for 5 miles. Two of the greatest landmarks on the trail are in this section. They are Sharp’s Tunnel and the adjacent curved bridge over the Greenbrier River. Hey, it’s the reason they are shown on the cover of the State Parks’ brochure.
Second, the fastest trip to Clover Lick, Cass and the Northern trailheads is from the East side of the River. From Marlinton the trip uses some combination of WV routes: 39, 28, 92, 66 depending on the trailhead. Note: The Clawson/Thorny Creek trailhead is on the end of a painful and s-l-o-w drive on a rough steep gravel road for 5 miles which takes 15 minutes. I have a front wheel drive minivan, but I made it out. Instead, I recommend access to this fine Trail portion by taking the Trail from Marlinton or Clover Lick.
The Northern trailheads can also be reached from Marlinton on the West side of the River using US 219 to County Road 1 immediately north of Marlinton. Know that this route is scenic but slower as it is a rural, paved and one lane shared road in many places.
Finally, the Greenbrier River Trail State Park reviews can be found on two web sites. You found one. The other is Trip Advisor which is free. You have to query ‘West Virginia’ and run through the menus to find the Trail listing. In Sept. 2019 there were 120 reviews. Trip Advisor rates the Trail as # 11 of 169 Outdoor Activities in WV. I have cross posted this review.
My husband surprised me with a trip to this trail for my birthday! We started at the south end and did the first 11 miles (in and back out) and then rode the northern section from Cass down to Marlinton on the 2nd day and the 3rd day went from Marlinton to Beard. It was honestly the best surface on a Rail Trail that I’ve seen... The terrain is pretty well flat (I think it descends 740 feet over 78 miles) and is an easy ride for any level of rider. Not a lot of places to stop to get water, snacks or food so carry all that with you. We didn’t get to finish all the trail but will be going back. My favorite part was from Marlinton to Beard though.
My husband, 7 year old son, and I rode this trail over three days on our hybrid bicycles. Cass to Marlinton (about 25 miles), Marlinton to Renick (almost 32 miles) and Renick to Caldwell (about 21 miles). There is a slight downhill slope if you begin at Cass and end at Caldwell. The only exception was around mile 13 where it appears that there was a rockslide and the best way for the trail maintainers to fix the trail was to build a short, moderately steep incline and equally short and moderate decline on the other side.
We arranged a shuttle with Chuck at Appalachian Sports in Marlinton for the first 2 days and a shuttle with Bobby and Cyndi at Free Spirit Adventures in Caldwell for the 3rd day. All of them were very helpful and friendly.
The trail itself was fairly well maintained, with occasional brush sticking out into the pathway and only one blowdown for which we had to dismount and push our bicycles over the branches. The surface is mainly crushed gravel with a few miles of pavement approaching and leaving Marlinton.
The trail is generally 15-30 feet above the river, sometimes veering away from it, and has river access at various points, the best access was in the final section between Renick and Caldwell. We saw multiple people swimming in the relatively shallow Greenbrier River in this section.
There are outhouses, water pumps, and campsites or shelters scattered along the way, but you definitely want to pack your own water. If you wanted to bike camp and had the map, it would easily be doable. We plan to do this in a future trip.
We thoroughly enjoyed our ride, despite the temperatures being in the high 80s/low90s and took advantage of the river access and water pumps to stay cool.
In early April two of us rode the Trail north to south, from Cass to North Caldwell, 77 miles. We really enjoyed the ride.
The Trail is double track or road, level or gentle grades. The surface is mostly small crushed limestone, with coarse gravel periodically. Pavement occurs around Marlinton. We rode 35mm wide tires, which were fine.
Several trees were down from a recent storm. The state trail crew removed them and cleared a small rock slide. Numerous small branches and sticks littered the trail, so we had to watch as we rode.
The two tunnels (511 and 402 feet) have rideable surfaces. It was helpful to have a light, as the tunnels bend.
The Trail follows the river, which is mostly placid with occasional riffles. Hills are on both sides.
We saw blue heron, woodpeckers, teal, wood ducks, Canada geese and deer.
The ride is very rural, passing occasional cabins and a few farms. Marlinton is the only town with services. We enjoyed red pepper soup at its Dirt Bean Cafe, which doubles as a bike shop. It’s important to carry hydration and food.
We did a layover day in Watoga State Park, which offers numerous hiking trails. Park cabins 1 and 2 (Riverside) are close to the trail. Unfortunately they were not open yet, so we stayed in cabin 3, up the hill but well worth the climb. By prior arrangement a cabin can be left unlocked, to avoid riding 5 miles from the trail to the Park office.
There is no lodging at North Caldwell, the south trail end. Lewisburg is 3 miles away and has motels, but requires riding on US 60 (a 2-foot shoulder and busy traffic).
We used Appalachian Sport to shuttle us back to Cass, about a 2-hour drive with a local who filled us in on picking ramps and ginseng.
Bottom line: if you like multi-day rural trail riding, the Greenbrier is an excellent choice, especially with a layover day in Watoga State Park.
My brother and I rode the length of greenbrier, out and back, between 9/13 - 9/15 2018. We chose to start in Marlinton due to remoteness of the trail and lack opportunities to replenish supplies. Following this itinerary we would have the opportunity to either begin or end our day here and have access to most anything that we needed. I also had full cell service here on the AT&T network allowing us to check the weather forecast, check messages and check in with family. Heading south from MM 55 toward Caldwell on the first day, we were quickly away from civilization and passed the only trail side convenience store at Seebert (~MM46). The trail was well maintained in this section and easy to ride with our hybrids. I was pulling a Bob trailer with camping gear. The scenery is beautiful including the Droop Mountain tunnel and there are many very nice cabins/summer homes here. There is ample river access for fishing or refreshing with a swim. After hearing from some locals that the water fountain at the 3.1 MM was broken, we decided that our time would be better spent finding a clean water source. We slightly shortened our trip and set up camp at the 9.5 MM camp site. I would advise bringing some method for filtering water if you plan to ride for a length of time. There are few opportunities to fill water bottles. The site here was very nice with a brand new camping shelter. The only downside was lack of water. We had to ride 5 miles round trip to find a spring. Day 2, heading north back toward Marlinton we had the motivation of knowing that we could get some prepared food and cold drinks in Seebert. When in Marlinton, we returned to our vehicles to charge our phones and drove across the bridge to the IGA grocery store for water and food for our last day. We camped at MM 64, this site was similar to the others with fire ring/cooking grate, level crushed limestone tent pad, outhouse, shelter and even had a water pump. Day 3 we began heading north to Cass (16 mi) where we planned to turn around and finish in Marlinton. This section had some muck which made it difficult to maintain a good roll. This was also the only section that had a noticeable grade. After learning this, it may be worth considering starting out in this section as opposed to making the climb on tired legs. The river looked very favorable for fishing here as well and I regret not stoping to make a few casts. The second of two tunnels is on this stretch so be sure to bring a light. Overall, a very well maintained trail, more than sufficient camping facilities and remarkable scenery. I would recommend this ride to anyone who has the desire go off of the grid for a few days. I plan to return and spend some time on the river.
A friend and I bike-packed the trail (Caldwell to Cass and back) 10-12 Sep 2018, Trail was in good shape. Keep in mind this is a long 77 mile trail (yes 77 miles, trail starts at mile marker 3, goes to mile marker 80) mostly through wilderness. Yet the upkeep of the trail was very good. Despite getting rain at least once a day (and locals indicated that the summer has been very wet), the trail was in great shape. There were some muddy/greasy spots - spots being the operative word here - (note; this is before Florence) but not many.
The trail surface was good, some isolated spots were more gravelly where recent repairs or maintenance had been done. I rode a full suspension mountain bike (definitely overkill - rode with suspension locked out). My friend rode a no suspension Trek Crossrip. Both of us were fully loaded with camping gear and clothes and neither of us had any issue with the trail. Any hybrid with decent off road tires will do fine here.
The trail is typically dual track with both "lanes" rideable. While there ar every short lengths where the tracks get narrow (mostly in open grassy sections), they are few and far between and not real problems at all.
We rode three days, 55 mi Caldwell to Marlinton (camped at Stillwell park) on day 1, then 65 miles up to Cass and then down to a cabin at Watuga St Park on day 2 before finishing 43 miles back to Caldwell on day three.
Note to bikers, if you rent a cabin at Watuga, know that the park office is 5 miles off the trail (uphill), not what you want to deal with if you've had a long day in the saddle already. We called and switched o one of the two cabins on the river and had them leave the key in the cabin for us - avoiding the trek to the office.
Note also that Marlinton is in the National Radio Quiet Zone and has very limited cell coverage. However, both the visitor's center and the Dirtbean Café have free wifi and you can make phonecalls over wifi from either location.
Only negative is the lack of towns and amenities along the route, especially between Caldwell and Marlinton. Once we hit Marlinton, the Dirtbean Café (Café, bar (wine/beer), Pizza joint, Coffe Shop, and bike shop) became our lodestone. Good food, good local craft beer, friendly staff. Hit it three times in our up and back journey (really good craft brews).
Bottom line, good trail for a multi day trip (have to plan it right though). An contrary to an earlier review, WV can be proud of this trail.
On Sept. of 2018 I rode the entire trial both ways over 5 days, a total of nearly 160 miles. I am confused about the post from pfh24 that said it was the worst trail he had ridden. I found the trail in good condition all the way. Of course, there were some muddy spots as it has rained a lot this year and the week I was there, there is new gravel in places which one would expect on a trail this long, and the grass needed mowing in a few places but the middle of the trail was always fairly short grass and most of the grass on the trail on both sides was fine. There has been a lot of rain so grass grows fast in that situation. I started in Lewisburg and rode up approximately 15 to 20 miles one way, turned around and rode back to my car. I like to ride trails both ways because it is like riding two trails as you see it differently in opposite directions. The trail follows the beautiful and crystal clear river most of the way and you pass pretty farms along the way. It was not near as remote as I expected as there are many homes, mostly weekend and vacation homes along the river in a number of places and there are people living at the trailheads so you do not feel isolated which is good and bad. It was a wonderful week and I plan to do it again next year. The Seebert trailhead is a nice one as you can take the bridge across the river and Watoga State Park is directly across the bridge and they have cabins, swimming pool , trails, tennis, etc. there so it is a nice park. I plan to stay there next time instead of 3 nights in Lewisburg and two in Marlinton. I definitely recommend this trail and will definitely go back again if possible. am a 72 year old male and would recommend the wider tires on a mountain bike versus hybrid or rode narrower tires. There are places where it is more safe for stability to have the wider tires. I stayed at a Holiday Inn in Lewisburg and the Old Clark Inn in Marlinton. The Old Clark is an old small hotel and is clean and breakfast was good. It is old though but I found it fine and the folks were very nice there.
Rode 26 miles of the trail over the weekend and have to say it was probably the worst trail that I have ridden.
We rode from the northern trailhead in Cass on Saturday, and then headed south from Marlinton on Sunday. There was one location of less than a quarter mile where it seemed to have been maintained - more for hiking than for biking as it was a combination of so much gravel that it was like biking on sand then in the same stretch there were large stones better for keeping a pickup from sinking than for biking.
Much of the trail was a pair of tire grooves spaced about the width of a pickup truck, with weeds growing in between. There was little evidence that trail - the riding surface - had been maintained in a few years. In a couple of areas the trail was barely visible through the freshly mowed lawns. There were areas where the tire tracks were without gravel and which had become mud for a biker to navigate.
And, it's a state park? So, are we to assume that there is an annual maintenance budget??
Maybe the sections of the trail further south are better for biking.
This trail is actually 80 miles. I'm not sure why it says 77, but my family started at mile marker 80 this July. We road down to mile 75 and back. This part of the trail starts at Cass and has a slight downgrade. It's crushed stone, but the trail is kept up nicely. It also follows the river. Our goal is to keep going back and doing it in sections each year.
We started at Marlinton (milepost 56) and headed north. Found that perfect campsite at milepost 69. Toilets, water, shelter, near the river. We ended up staying 2 days! The second day we rode to Cass for lunch and see the trains. We stopped near milepost 74 to read, swim, enjoy the day. Beautiful spot!
Today I rode from Cass to Seebert, and back. The trail is well kept, with few ruts and no downfall blocking my path;. Most important, the trail was smooth enough I wasn't jostled and could maintain a steady pace. Near Marlinton, there is a section of asphalt, some of which is being buckled by roots growing underneath. Noticeable, but far from dangerous and un-fun as is sections of the Erie Canal Towpath trail.
I ran across a state maintenance worker who was driving it. He stopped, was friendly and we had a short, nice conversation.
My wife and I rode this trail on June 25, 2017. We started in Marlinton and rode north for about 10 miles before turning back. What we liked about the trail:
Lots of wildlife. Deer, rabbits, groundhogs
Sharp's Tunnel is impressively creepy to ride through
What we didn't like:
The trail is becoming overgrown. In many places, it looked like a rutted country road, with weeds growing in the middle and encroaching on the narrow path. There was only about 16 inches per path. There was a fallen tree across the trail near the tunnel. You had to get off your bike to squeeze under. It looked as if maintenance is seldom done on the trail. It could use a good mowing and new layer of crushed grave.
My son and I rode this trail over 5 days in July 2001 from Caldwell to Cass. He was 9 at the time. We packed most everything on my bike and camped when we were tired, dished when we felt like it and took side trips along the way to Watoga SP and Marlonton. We ultimately rode over 1100 miles an made memories to last a lifetime. Great trail! We got to see deer, bear and one rattlesnake lying on the trail so please remember: this is truly wilderness. Plan accordingly.
I rode much of the trail round trip over Labor Day weekend. I rode from Marlinton to Cass and back, and Marlinton south about 32 miles and back the following day. The trail was in very good shape, with great campsites along the way--one of the most beautiful routes I have ridden. I stayed north of the extensive damage from the June floods which will take a lot of money and time to repair, but you can still experience the large majority of the trail. Highly recommended.
I biked out and back on the north section from Marlington to Cass. The scenery was amazing. The trail surface was good for most of this section, there were some areas that were torn up pretty bad from horse use though. I'd have given this trail 5 stars if not for the horse damage.
On June 23, 2016, the Greenbrier River Trail was hit by torrential rains resulting in multiple washouts and landslides affecting most severely the Southernmost 10 miles of the Trail, from Caldwell to Anthony. There is a large washed out section just ¼ mile up the Trail. To avoid having to walk or bike along the road to get around that large washed out area, an alternate parking area has been established just past the washed out area (about ½ mile up the Trail from the old Trailhead parking lot). From the old trailhead parking lot, exit to your left and go about .2 mi. on Stonehouse Road to the first road to your right. Take that road approximately .2 mile to the Trail and the new parking area.
ALTERNATE TRAIL ACCESS:
Repair work on the Trail is ongoing. At the present time, the Southern end of the Trail is open for about 3 miles from the new parking area to another large washed out area. If you would like to access the other beautiful 67 miles of the Trail that are still open, exit the old trailhead parking lot at Caldwell to your left and go about 5 miles up Stonehouse Road, which becomes Brush Road, until you come to a traffic light at the intersection of Brush Road and Rt. 219. The Elks Country Club and golf course will be on your left, the State Road garage on your right, and there will be a bank directly across the intersection. Turn right at the light and head North on Rt. 219 for 7.7 miles to Anthony Road. As you approach Anthony Road, you will pass an Exxon station and then a cemetary on your right. Turn right onto Anthony Road and go approximately 4 miles and you will come to the Greenbrier River Trail at Anthony (MM14.2). Parking is on your left and you will want to head in that direction (North) to access the remaining 67 miles of the Trail. The very scenic drive to Anthony from Caldwell takes about 25-30 minutes and will be well worth the extra time and effort to enjoy the 67 miles of Trail and River to the North. All of the other Trail access points indicated on the Trail map, are open. I am fortunate to live near the Trail and ride it every day. You will not be disappointed!
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
If you want to see for yourself the immensity of the damage to the southern part of the Trail, you can head South on the Trail from Anthony (MM14.2), for about 1.2 miles to MM13, where there is a huge landslide that completely blocks the Trail. Private donations, both large and small, are badly needed to make the necessary repairs to the Trail. Donations can be made to the Greenbrier River Trail Association Reconstruction Fund, PO Box 1, Lewisburg, WV 24901 or online at greenbrierrivertrail.com. All contributions are tax deductible and 100% of the donated money will be used for Trail repairs.
We rode the trail October 12-14, starting in Marlinton, down to Lewisburg on day one, then back to Marlinton on day two. Day three we rode up to Cass and back.
The trail is in excellent condition, being used to riding on the C&O Canal in Maryland we were well prepared for this sort of trail riding.
The remoteness of the trail, the history of the logging and railroad industries, and the natural beauty of the area make this a must see. We stayed in hotels/bed and breakfasts because the hot showers and clean sheets are tough to pass up. But the camping facilities looked very clean and well kept.
Staying at the Old Clark Inn was wonderful, the bikes were secured, breakfast was enough to get you going out on the trail, beds were fine and wifi was great.
If you plan to drink a lot of the water from the wells its a good idea to bring some mixes to counteract the pumps.
Phone service is non existent on most of the trail, especially on the Northern end. Placing the phone on airplane mode and making it only a camera seemed to be a good idea.
I would recommend setting enough time aside to take some time to go down to the actual river and take a dip, even though it was very cold the water is clear and clean looking. The trail generally is 15-20 feet above the river so keep an eye for trails that others have blazed to get down and see the river close up.
Being bike riders for 20 plus years we had the Greenbrier on our bucket list to do. Well this year October 22-25 2015 we got our chance. First of all we had to plan our lodging, we were not going to camp because the weather called for some freezing nights and we were not up for that. I converted a child burley cub trailer into a cargo trailer. It worked great but caution due not over pack as we did.
We drove up to Caldwell Thursday evening. Chuck from adventure sports (based out of Marlinton) shuttle us up to Cass WV. We got to Cass at 11:00pm. We found our company house and got settled. The house was nice and we slept good.
(Oct-23-Friday) Weather Sunny 74 degrees
Woke up and checked out and went to go eat at the restaurant for breakfast, very good pancakes!! After breakfast we found the trail head and started the ride. The colors were past peak but still beautiful. We stopped in Clover Lick and talked to some other riders and rest. Before long we came upon a group or gaggle of wild turkeys and they scattered every which way. We also saw fox squirrels’ everywhere. This part of the trail is the most remote compared to the other parts. Once we got to Sharps Tunnel (very creepy) and went thru took some pictures and carried on. Our initial plan was to stop every 10 miles or so and rest and take it all in, but we had a faster than average pace the first day, Excitement maybe. Well we made our way into Marlinton and stayed at the Old Clark Inn the Inn keepers are nice and the rooms are small but beds are nice. We went for dinner at Green Briar river restaurant, it was all good. We slept good that night.
(Oct-24 Saturday) Weather Overcast 65
Woke up talked to a few folks and went a block away to eat at DirtBean's. Had Buck-Wheat pancakes and southwestern eggs, wife had everything bagel and we shared the pancakes.
We headed south our longest day 31 miles. We planned to take a more leasurely pace this day and keep to our 10 mile stop interval. The weather was cooler and we felt better and cycled better. We stopped at Watgua Bridge and took great pictures. I plan was to stop in Seebert and Jack Honer's for lunch, but when we got there we were still full from breakfast. So we had them make sandwiches for the road. Talked to a gentleman that saw 2 bald eagles down the trail so we looked for them. Wife took the trailer on her bike for 5 miles to give me some rest. We looked for the eagles but never saw them. Along the way a forest ranger came by in a truck and was looking for some horseback riders and inquired if we have seen them. And he too mention he saw the 2 eagles near we stopped to eat our lunch. Any how we headed to next stop Renick WV and G&T Cottage. Got to the cottage and Twyla and Glen the Inn keepers bought us some groceries that we requested (Soup and Sandwiches) we were too tired to cook anything else. G&T cottage is the only place to stay there unless your camping. The house is nice but pricy so share it with another couple. It was Saturday and it would have been nice to have a TV to watch some football. We got some R&R for our last day.
(Oct-25 Sunday) Weather overcast and maybe rain.
We cook breakfast had bacon and eggs and made peanut butter sandwiches for the road. Since it was supposed to rain and cooler we dressed in our long bike pants. 3 miles down the trail we quickly stripped and put shorts back on. This part of the trail had the best colors and we stopped more often and really enjoyed ourselves. I had my Gopro camera and took some really good video. I will post it on when I get it together.
This part of the trail saw many people walking their dogs and just day hiking. It was Sunday after all. At the 2 miles to go we rode together and made to the parking area. We were glad to see the truck was still there, along with 10 other cars and trucks.
We got all packed up and headed for our final lodging this time driving. Greenbrier Campground in Alderson WV. We got lost getting there but finally made it. We stayed in a river cabin with a "HOT TUB", but guess what, we did not pack our bathing suits. Thank goodness the hot tub was behind a privacy fence HA HA. I would recommend this place was a nice place to stay after 80 miles of bike riding.
(October-26 Monday) Drove home in rain.
Conclusion: We had a great time and I would do it again anytime. I recommend a slower pace next time.
Michael and Lee Murdock
We spent 4 days biking the trail and averaged 20 miles a day. We had two vehicles so we were able to set up a shuttle. This worked out well and we were able to cover more of the trail without having to back track. We camped at Watoga State Park. That was a really nice park too. I was very impressed by the number of campsites along the trail and a lot of them had shelters along with a bathroom, water pump, picnic table and fire ring. I would like to come back again and try camping along the trail and also kayaking the river. We didn't see many people on the trail. We enjoyed a delicious lunch in Marlinton. It was easy pedaling with wonderful scenery. I highly recommend this trail to all ages.
Rode about 10 rail-trails in a 2 week stretch and this was definitely my favorite. Camping facilities along the trail were excellent, as was scenery. Trail surface was uniformly superb. The guide maps were accurate and complete. Plan to return some day.
This is the finest rail trail in West Virginia...a great escape! I enjoyed the tent spots that include water and bathroom service. There is a delicious pizza joint along the way. My friends and I felt safe the entire 3 day expedition..
A friend and I rode a 3-day tour along the Greenbrier River Trail in August 2015. We stayed in Marlinton, WV, about two-thirds of the way up the trail, and rode the entire trail in out-and-back segments over a weekend.
The Greenbrier is a great option if you like touring away from vehicles in scenic areas, and it comprises a portion of Adventure Cycling Assoc.'s Alleghany Mountains loop. The trail surface was almost entirely crushed gravel and very well maintained. You are riding in sight of the river much of the time and pass through two short tunnels that get totally dark as they curve. A tourist railroad line still operates out of Cass at the north end. There are numerous campsites and picnic areas along the trail, but few towns directly on the trail where you can get food or lodging -- namely Cass at mile point 80, Marlinton at MP 56, and Caldwell at MP 3.
We both rode touring bikes with Clement LAS 33 cross tires, fenders and rack bags. The tires were perfect for the trail conditions, as the gravel was rather loose in spots, and the fenders were nice when we got caught in a heavy downpour that fortunately lasted only about 15 minutes. We carried lunches with us on two days because there were no places to eat along those segments of the trail.
I highly recommend the Greenbrier trail for anyone looking for a short tour in the Eastern US.
My husband, daughter, and I set out on our very first camping trip along a rails to trail. We left our truck in Marlinton and traveled north to the primitive campsites near Clover Lick.
The trail was in good condition. Some spots were soft and made it a little difficult to pedal through, but we managed. I'm sure as things dry out it will improve. The trail was very busy on the section we rode. We passed joggers, bikers, hikers, and fisherman.
The bathrooms were amazingly clean and well-cared for. Some hand sanitizer would have been a nice addition, but I brought some on my bike and was good. The water pumps were great to have, although we didn't end up drinking the water. It had a very strong metallic taste. We had a water purification system, so we drank from the river...delicious!
The campsites were all in great condition. The first one we came upon was just 7-8 miles from town. It was right along the trail w/o much privacy. The river was nearby but not within sight. We decided to head to the next campsites near Clover Lick. I'm glad we did because they were fantastic. They were much more spread out, the river was right there, and they sat back from trail a bit.
The beauty of the area was unreal. We saw a snake, deer, geese, various colorful birds, and chipmunks. A covered picnic table just north of Sharp's Tunnel sits right by a beautiful waterfall. We enjoyed eating some lunch and listening to the running water. It was so relaxing. There was so much to look at and take in. There were several times that we would run off the trail a bit because we were so busy looking around at the scenery.
If I could give this trail TEN STARS, I would! From the helpful and friendly volunteer at the Visitor's Center to the wonderful trail accommodations to the scrumptious meal at DirtBean on our return to Marlinton. We have just one regret...being that this was our first bike camping trip, I am not sure that any other trail will compare. They always say to save the best for last. We didn't and I think we will always compare every bike camping experience to this one. I can't imagine that any trail could compare!
Not sure if this is the right place to ask questions, but I don't see any other place, so here goes. First, I want to hike this trail next month, but I don't see enough information to tell me if I can access the river to filter water rather than needing to carry an excessive amount (some riverbanks are too steep, for example). Second, I see references to food resources at various stops, but not enough information to tell me what to carry. Is the avaible food canned soup, for example (useless to a backpacker). Finally (for now), will the campsites accommodate a hammock camper? Thanks all!
My daughter and I backpacked the entire length of the trail starting at Cass starting August 31, 2014. We got into Cass late the first night and only hiked 2 miles to the first campsite and stayed overnight. We covered an average of 13 miles per day until we arrived at Caldwell. Very picturesque and interesting scenery along the way. One day about the middle of the trail we never passed a single person. There were several other people we passed who were hiking the entire trail also. Most people we passed had seen a bear sometime, but we never did. We hung our food in bags in trees at night and nothing ever bothered it.
It had been a dry summer and almost all the springs and creeks were dried up, so we drank from the wells when we found them and also treated and drank from the Greenbrier river a lot as well. That water tasted a lot better than the well water! The river was crystal clear and at least a foot and a half below normal, so it was easy to get to. The adirondack shelters (4) are nice to have on rainy nights. We got wet a couple times while backpacking, but enjoyed the trip anyway.
At Seebert at the Jack Horner's store you can get just about anything you need, even pizza and ice cream. They also sell a book written by a local countian about the trail, with in depth information about every stop along the way, in its heyday in the early 1900's. I suggest you buy this book in advance of hiking or biking the trail, as it will tell you what there is to look for and where amenities are at along the way.
There are several shuttle services you can use to get from point to point, but they are expensive. You can get a list of available shuttles from the WV state Park website, under the listing for the Greenbrier River Trail. I would suggest taking two cars, leaving one at the desired exit and then drive back to your stating point with the other one. I highly recommend hiking or biking this trail.
We drove down from New York and cycled this trail from Clover Lick to Droop over the summer with our children--ages 4, 6 and 9 (and a Burley bike trailer).
The ride was stunning and the area was interesting. (We conveniently bumped into a local music festival in Elkins on our way down from New York.)
The trail was an incredibly easy trail to ride. It was well maintained and very flat, with a slight downward incline--if you started the trail backwards. (For us, starting backwards meant starting at Clover Lick and going towards Droop.)
Our 6 and 9 year olds had no trouble at all on the trail; our 4 year old, who only learned to ride a two-wheeler this summer, covered 10 miles in total during our time on the trail.
The local people were generally friendly and engaging. (One couple that we met let us taste some of their local moonshine!)
While actually riding on the trail, we encountered very few people (maybe 5 over the course of our time on the trail).
It is worth noting that there is no cell phone service on much of the trail and in parts of Pocahontas County (because of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory).
The phone situation proved to be a non-issue for us. (We didn't break down or anything.)
The main challenge that we encountered was having to park the car ride and then ride back to the car.
Initially, we thought that we could just drop myself, the kids and the bikes at an access, have my husband drop the car down the trail at the next access and pre-arrange for a taxi/cab company to bring him back to where we were so we could ride to the car. Nope. There are no cabs anywhere in the area (and I mean anywhere! I looked pretty extensively before we left for the trip.)
Basically, this meant that we covered less ground when we rode. (For example, four miles was eight miles round trip.)
On two of our days on the trail we arranged for a local shopkeeper to help us out for a small fee. On these days, my husband dropped the kids and I with the bikes and he met the shopkeeper at the access point that we were planning to cycle to. The shopkeeper basically fulfilled the role of the taxi driver that I sought before we left New York; he drove my husband back to the access point where we were waiting.)
The stretch from Seebert to Droop seemed longer than we thought it would be. The 6 and 9 year old were beat! (The dessert at Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro was well-earned! Our 4 year old only cycled about two miles or so before going on a bike seat on the back of my bike. We put his bike in our Burley.)
We opted to stay in cabins in state parks (Seneca and Watoga) while doing the trail. Seneca State Park was nice, but Watoga State Park was great! And yes, we saw a bear while Watoga (twice).
This is a really fascinating part of the country. We had an awesome time!
We used Appalachian Sport for our bike rentals and shuttle from Marlinton to Cass for a ride down the trail in mid-September. The trail is wonderful, almost entirely along the river for the northern section, an easy ride along smooth surfaces with plenty of places to stop and rest or eat.
Can't say enough about Chuck at Appalachian Sport- a great deal on the bikes and shuttle and two perfect rooms above the shop at an affordable rate. Rooms were clean, well furnished, and maintained.
Chuck was knowledgeable, flexible, and just a good guy to get us started.
We would use his services again and highly recommend that you do so, too!
After waiting out the rain all day, my labradoodle, Hollie, and I hit the trail around 5:30 pm, August 31, 2014. We were both thrilled to get out of the vehicle and into the woods. Hollie uses the Springer, dog walking tether, that attaches to my bike. It was the perfect apparatus for a trail like the Greenbrier. She and I moved along nicely, covering just over 10 miles in our short amount of daylight. The only discouragement we had was with the limited access points to the river itself. The two places we could access, between 4.5 and again at the 5 mile point were very nice and Hollie enjoyed wading in the water.
We saw and heard plenty of wildlife with a large bear probably 350-400 pounds crossing the path in front of us around the 7.75-8 mile marker. Deer were plentiful, saw numerous bird species, with Pilated Woodpeckers calling throughout the entire trail covered. I heard numerous Ravens and a couple Barred Owls. A great Blue Heron landed before dark and a group of geese were noise from the river. We had to cover nearly 2 miles in the pitch dark and a rabbit ran in front the bike giving me a quick jolt as we were about to call it a night.
Great trail with beautiful scenery throughout. I can't wait to return for more.
Just finished the full round trip from Caldwell to Cass. This trail is great. The trail is not very crowed and had clean campsites and restrooms long the way. Great view and interesting sites. The grade from Caldwell to Cass maybe railroad grade but it's a constant climb and your legs do feel it. Path is well maintained.
Hiked this trail last year, at the end of July/first of August. I hadn't attempted a hike of this length, and learned a lot from this trip. Unfortunately, I was carrying too much weight in my pack, and had to quit before I completed the entire length due to a stress fracture in my left tibia. The water pump stations were great, although there was a iron smell/taste in each one. The campsites were clean and easily accessible. There are some truly beautiful places on this trail, to include great fishing if that's what you're into doing. I also ran into some very nice folks on my trip, to include a "wagon train" on my second day. Would love to run into them again this year, as they fed me VERY well!! :)
Am hiking again during the same time frame this year, and am anxiously looking forward to it.
Rode the trail yesterday 25 miles up from Caldwell and back. Planned on refilling my water bottles in Renick, but found that there was no water available. The drinking fountain in the park wasn't working, and the spigot nearby was locked.
So, for now, plan accordingly when planning your ride....there is NO water available on the trail in Renick.
On the plus side, however, the trail was in excellent shape overall with only a couple of minor inconveniences due to downed trees.
This was my second time riding GRT. Rode in mid April. 27 degrees at the start but warmed up nicely to about 60 by afternoon. The trail was perfect. Not one piece of trash the entire 78 miles!! It's so nice that everyone respects this beautiful trail and does their part to keep it perfect!! I highly recommend everyone ride at least a portion of this trail. It's natural beauty will rival any trail in the country. Can't wait to ride it again!!!
Six years after staying at Seebert, we returned but this time to Marlinton, on the hope to cover more of the trail. The trail cuts right through Marlinton, a small town with a B&B, and a few stores and small restaurants. Road 15 miles north to Clover Lick...and back again. The next day we drove to Cadwell, and road 14 miles and back again. This is a great trail, clean as a whistle, nice bridges and tunnels. Saw several groups of deer. April temperatures 32 in morning, but 50-70 by afternoon. We bundled but fount it totally comfortable if you layer. Bathrooms and water, along with camp sites make this trail a winner. We too were surprised that so few people used the trail. We passed NO ONE on the trail from Marlinton/Clover, but there were walkers, joggers, and bikers from Cadwell/Anthony. Check out videos on YouTube...those best demonstrate this wonderful trail.
I walked this up and back, starting and ending at Caldwell over a 6 day stretch in late July 2013. Most of this trail is very quiet, only Caldwell, Cass and Marlinton areas having many other people on the trail. Most crowded was on weekends (as usual), but I managed on a Thursday to go from Cass to campsite below Marlinton and only met two other people! Spent one night at Cass, otherwise 'roughed' it. The river views, the tunnels and bridges plus the scenery all worth every step. If you want solitude and a great walking view, highly recommend mid week travel on this trail.
Just finished my 3rd annual bicycle trip on the GRT. The scenery is beautiful and the entire trail is so peaceful. Can't understand why there are so few riders? Oh well, perhaps it's better that way....Almost Heaven!
My buddy and I discussed riding GRT for the last 6 months. On July 5th 2013 we did it! We began at the Caldwell end at 7 a.m. We brought some energy bars, bananas, gatorade, and water. There are fresh water pumps periodically along the trail. We stopped in Seebert for lunch. This was at approximately mile marker 44. The Greenbrier River winds peacefully in view of the trail almost the entire way. The trail is in excellent shape and other than the 15 mile monsoon we rode through, we had no problems riding this trail in one day. We arrived in Cass at about 4:30 p.m. Tired but proud of our accomplishment!! We will definitely come back and ride this trail again soon!
Nice flat ride.
We did the Greenbrier River Trail over 3 days using Watoga State Park as a base camp. It was a central point from which we could access both the northern and southern parts of the trail. We used the two-car method and swapped keys at the mid point of each day's journey. The experience was both varied and fascinating. Like most rail trails it offerd no elevation challenges. We travelled through tunnels as well as many friendly small towns. Access was not a problem, but water stop and meal planning was a bit problematic. The scenery in the fall was spectacular. Overall the experience was fabulous. If you make this trip, be prepared for gravel double track part of the way. Also be prepared to fix flats as area vegetation provides a variety of thorns. It rains quite a bit in the area so you need to be ready for that as well. The bottom line is, if you are prepared, all or part of this trail will be a pleasant and memorable experience.
We parked our cars in Caldwell, then took a shuttle up to Cass and pedaled southbound. We both had BOB Yak trailers and took comfy items such as a bag chair and a hammock for the best seating outdoors! We took our time and pedaled a scant 20 miles a day. We stopped and looked at everything whenever inspiration hit us. Found wild mushrooms (Chicken of the Wood) and had them fried for breakfast the next day. We camped at the sites along the trail, stayed at Watoga State Park one night, had pizza and ice cream at Jack's Horner Corner. Well-water at the campsites was refreshingly cool on the hot and muggy days. We also used filter to drink river water. The best campsites had the wells and outhouses, and the sites were always clean and well-maintained. Even sites without water & outhouse had unique qualities, like location and river view. The river itself had amazing, serene views. Often the water looked more like a peaceful lake than a moving river. I brought a fishing pole and caught smallmouth bass and panfish for breakfast and dinner. The trail itself was in very good shape. No issues at all. Crushed limestone, a little soft in areas where new fill had been brought in, and then skinny two-tracks a little ways, but mostly one single wide track to follow. Do this ride! Take your bikepacking stuff, do low miles, and high fun at the campsites!
My wife and I were fotunate to be riding on one of our favorites this past weekend and were in Marlinton for the induction and the food and music afterwards. What a great trail-well deserving of the honor. We look foward to our "home" trail entering the hall of fame one of these days-The New River Trail in Virginia
This was my second time on this great trail, taking a friend for his first time. We played the shuttle with two cars which caused a lot of driving starting at Cass and going to Beard at mile 38 and stayed two nights at the Old Clark B & B in Marlinton after doing the West Fork on the first day. There were some washboard bumps during miles 50s and 60s which shook your arms if you did not ride just to the edge of the tracks. Some where around Burnsides mile 42 there was a whole hillside of thousands of white and pink Trilliums- spectacular! About the same location we saw two deer herds of 10 total and ran into a recent mud and stone washout of a gully above the trail which required walking the bikes for 15 feet. The excellent maintenance crew of four State Park employees know about the washout and will be fixing it. It is not a problem but interesting to look hign up and wonder how that gully washed out. Youker
My friend and I rode from North Caldwell to the Denmar correctional facility. The surface on this section was excellent. This was the middle of October 2011. Many stretches were covered in leaves which for me was a detraction, adding noise to the ride but still a nice time of year to ride. There are river views but mostly through scrub trees. There are just enough restrooms. Campsites are plenty if you like that, some with well water pumps. There were very few people on the trail at this time. There is pretty much nothing at each little "town"/road crossing--just some houses, really. All in all, a great riding surface through the woods. I would like to ride the remainder of the trail. West Virginia is extremely beautiful. Only regret was that we didn't do it in warmer weather, 85 degrees and up. We stayed in the Greenbrier State Forest in one of the original "CCC" A.D.1939 log cabins. Very nice and rustic. Only heated with the fireplace, though--unless you cheat and use the gas oven in the kitchen in the morning (like I did).
We rode the trail over 3 days in 3 sections. The first day was from Keister north to Renick. The road from route 219 down to Keister is steep, twisting and only one lane wide and it is a two-way road. Fortunately, we met no one going in the opposite direction traveling in or out. There are a few driveways where one might pass but what are the odds you'd be next to one at the right time? WV folk probably do well with this but we flatlanders didn't care for it.
I rode this trail from Marlinton to Stony Bottom. I was sorry that I didn't have more time to explore it further. I stayed at the Old Clark Inn in Marlinton (more of a B&B than a motel), and the people running it were great. The trail was well marked, easy to follow, and had ample bathroom facilities along the section I rode.
Dirt pathway with some gravel. It has been a very rainy spring, and there were a few minor muddy patches.
Very beautiful riverside views. The tunnel was neat.
Trail runs right through downtown Marlinton and is very easy to find. There were several outhouses, water pumps, and campgrounds along the trail.
Might be a little tough on a road bike, but it was no problem on a mountain bike. Tunnel was unlit so bring a flashlight if you want to explore.
Hello Dear Reader,
In May 2010 I and my partner rode the GRT completely in both directions in 3 days. We camped at the campsites, brought food from the local communities, and got water along the way. This is our resulting 'guide'.
Our Ride Plan: Drive down to Cass Wv. on May 6th, stay overnight in the Cass Inn, then hit the trail by 7am on Friday May 7th. Do the entire trail on May 7th from Cass to Caldwell (downhill) then do the return trip over the next two days at ~40 miles per day. In this way we can see the sights we noted on the fast trip downhill. we camped the entire time except for the first night, and were back at the car by 2pm on Sunday May 9th 2010.
About us: We are experienced rail-trail riders who train regularly at 20-30 miles per ride. We have the proper gear to handle the expected weather. We each pack our own tent. I am 48 and Matt is a spring chicken 45 years old. Both of us are riding 20 year old mountian-bike based mounts with 26" tires. We use fat street-based tires, preferring the Michelin City Tire which they advertise as being tougher for city streets etc. We regularly ride these tires on rail-trails with no issues at all except in the muddiest of spots.
Trail condition: The north end (Marlton to Cass) is roughest. It has the steepest climb average and the softest trail bed. We ride on street based tires (no knobbies tho they are 'fat' at 1.85") and there were times we were a bit twisted round by the ruts in the soft stuff but there were no incidents (falls). In soft stuff, if your bike starts to wiggle round, you just pedal as hard as you can. The soft areas aren't long, just a bit treacherous. You can see them coming though so if you need to walk your bike through those areas, they are easy to spot and not very long. Once past Marlton though it is smooth sailing...good hardpack all the way. There is a bit of 'single tracking' where the weeds are growing in the middle of the trail leaving only 2 'cart path' type wheel tracks to ride in but thats OK with us. The trail was generally fast. I also didn't think it was particularly 'rocky' compared to other trails I have ridden (Great Allegheny Passage or C&O Towpath for example).
Canopy: This trail has awesome canopy. We were under cexcellent cover for the most part. There are some breaks but they are usually fairly short. The one big exception is mile marker 23 where you pass through a dairy farm. Thats is about a mile with no cover at all. Not that sun is an issue (do wear sunscreen though!). but wind is. It can get mighty windy along the river but you generally only feel it when the canopy breaks. On our last day we were supposed to have 45 mph gusts but really only felt the wind at all in the breaks. You could hear it in the trees but under the canopy..very little.
Water: There is water available at both ends of the trail at eating places, and there is the town of Marlton at mile-marker 56 and a restaraunt at marker 45(ish!). There are also some pump-wells on the trail. There is one around mile-marker 61, 29, and 13. All three had excellent water quality. Note the 'doldrums' of the late 30's through to the mid 50's....if you miss that one resauruant in the 40's there isn't anyplace for water until either Marlton at mile 56 or the pump just inside mile 29. Water in towns is a bit hit or miss for its quality so taste it (we found sulphury water in one place) before you commit to using it until the next water source.
Camping: In typical park fashion, all sites are 'first come first served' so plan your trip accordingly. Every site we saw was clean and tidy. All had fire rings and picknick tables. This trail covers two counties (Pocohontas and Greenbrier...the line is at mile 32 I believe) and the situation is different in each. Pocohontas county has some sites with small 'adirondack' type shelters. These are three sided structures with a single row of three bunks (one each side and one on the back wall). Greenbrier county does not have any of those. GB county has better campsites though, and more of them. I say better because in GB county the campsite is more likely to have a raised tent-bed area and a chemical outhouse (permanent structures for all in both counties..no cheap plastic stuff here). Also, the pumps in GB county are at campsites, meaning you can find at least 2 campsites in GB county with both water and toilet. Campsites do get sparser in the 'doldrums' of the 30's and 40's. They get to being between 6 and 8 miles apart at times there. We passed one at mile 40-ish and didn't find another until mile 49. You will also find benches to sit on and enjoy the view all along the trail :)
Food Sources: This is rural West Virgina folks so stuff CLOSES EARLY. We drove in after 5pm and everything seemed closed. We had to buy some bread, PB, and Jelly to have a wonderful cold PB&J 'dinner' on Thursday. In the morning we ate at the Bear Creek Lodge right down the street from the Cass Inn. Standard fare delivered in the standard manner. Nothing exciting. We then rode to Marlton, the 'big town' on the trail and the county seat of Pocohontas county. It is at mile-marker 56. There are many places to eat there. We chose the Dirt Bean coffeehouse and bicycle shop for obvious reasons. Excellent coffee choices and good food. We didn't expect to stop in the 40's though there is a trailside eatery in that range, so we went 'across the bridge' in Marlton to the Subway shop. There we got a couple foot-longs with nothing on them. The folks there were very friendly and put everything in containers 'on the side' for us. We ate those subs for lunch and dinner. This way we didn't have to pack food except our preferred brand of energy bars. On Saturday morning we ate energy bars and cycled to the Caldwell end of the trial from our campsite (~ 2 miles). The trail SEEMS to end at a parking lot but take a left there and go 2 miles down the access road to the 'main road' of rte. 60 and you will find a place called Sam and Kitty's. The people were freindly and the portions were generous. We got some ham and chees sandwiches to go there for our lunch and found those to be a bit skimpy on the meat. So to wrap up, there is food at either end of the trail and at miles 56 and somewhere in the low -mid 40's. I don't think I'd expect to roll into anywhere after 5-6pm and find food with the exception of Marlton at marker 56.
Wildlife: We were constantly remined that this is wild country by the deer leftovers we saw on the trail. We saw a lot of old dead deer skin/fur on the trailside. Also, about 2 miles into the first day, we passed a large scat that just screamed 'bear' at us. It was too large for anything else by far. We put our food-smelling trash away from our campsites at night in fear of luring in a bear with it. We also saw lots of small woodland creatures such as groundhog and woochuck. We saw trees with evidence of beaver but no actual beavers. We also saw and heard a LOT of woodpeckers. Hawks were also seen but no eagles, though the trailside signs said they were in the area. The Cass Inn did have an awesome community of hummingbirds :)
People/Safety: We met few people actually on the trail, though everyone we met was very nice. The folks in town were also quite nice. We never felt like we had to worry about anything from a safety point of view.
The View: We were riding along somewhere about 50 miles into the first day's ride and Matt (a spiritual but not at all religious person) said to me "You know, its easy to live in the city and think God doesn't exist. But out here..." and I replied "It punches you in the face". This is truly 'God's River' to me. The views are spectacular, the river is incredibly clear and clean, and the overall effect is just spirit lifting.
1. We hit the Dirt Bean in Marlton on Friday morning at 10:15am and the place was hopping! Lots of retirees sitting on the comfy couches enjoying thier favorite coffees and the company. They were tres friendly to us! If you like coffee and company then hit the Dirt Bean! I will stop there every time now :)
2. We stayed at the Cass Inn on the first night before we hit the trail. We thought it would be best to get a good night's sleep before an 80 mile day. The accomodations were good. The beds are antique and seemed a bit short to my 5-11 frame. No feet hanging over the end but I knew the covers were tucked in at the foot of the bed. Also, unfortunately, this is where we found the well water to be a bit sulphurous. Fill up at the Bear Creek Lodge instead. On the plus side though, Penny, the lady who owns/runs the Inn, was extremely nice to us. She let us park our car there until we got back etc.
3. The trail maps are misleading. We stayed at the last campsite on the Caldwell end, which the map said was ~4.7 miles from the end. This is true only if you place the end at the junction of the access road for the Caldwell trailhead and rte 60. If you parked at the lot at the physical end of the trail on the Caldwell side you would be around mile 2 or 3 already.
3. Sam and Kitty's was a good place to eat. The folks are very friendly and the portions were mostly generous. Its also very convenently placed about 300 yards from the junction of the trailhead access road and rte 60 in Caldwell.
Good luck and enjoy the trail! We had a blast and plan on making it a regular part of our riding schedule.
I have led several end to end rides along the GRT. It is a great ride for both families and experienced riders. Most times we park at the Caldwell Trailhead and shuttle to Cass. There are several Shuttle Services, best option is to have at least 6-8 people to split the cost. We usually drive up on Fri. and bike about 15 miles or so and camp, Sat. breakfast can be in camp or bike 10 miles to Marlinton and eat at the Riverview Cafe. We ride about 50 miles on Sat. and finish with an easy 10 miler, still plenty of time to stop and explore. I love riding through the 2 tunnels you can still smell and see the soot on the rocky ceiling. I have seen fox, deer, thought I saw a bear but not sure, whatever it was it darted across the trail better than 100 yards in front of me, and a giant snapping turtle just out of hibernation (he must have had 10 pounds of mud on his shell). Some of the camp sites are very nice, high enough to drain excess water, most have chemical toilet, pump water (if your by yourself jamb a small stone into the relief valve, otherwise you need 3 hands) and a few sites have small shelters. A few sites are low and dark usually muddy. Most also have a picnic table and fire pit. It's not a good idea to plan a trip for the 4th weekend of April (April 24 this year, they have a big bike/run/kayak event,trail gets crowed around Marlinton) Having said that, I will say that we were there that weekend last year and really didn't have a problem but we got through the area before hand and we would have been going against the racers.
A great trail, and always fun.
I walked the trail from North Caldwell to the 7 mile marker and back. It was a peaceful hike with low traffic and a good surface. Having the river by your side and being shaded by trees makes it even better. I liked how this trail has amenities like trailside camping and restrooms, even in the middle of nowhere! I would love to bring my bike and ride the entire trail sometime!
"Had read many stories about how great this ride was. Made arrangements to be on trail before dawn. Several miles riding with just the geese/ducks, deer, and rabbits. Be ready for the wild turkey at the tunnels. The flowers, vegetation, and the little towns are worth every push of a pedal. Hope to do the northern half next year."
"My wife and I just completed a three day trip on the trail. We stayed in Marlington at the Clark Inn after the first 24 mile section (Cass to Marlington). This section is very remote. The surface is sometimes bumpy with large gravel, but not so much that it would make me wish that I was not out there riding. Sharp's tunnel and bridge are a great place to stop with a nice swimming hole just across the bridge. Watch out though as the water is still very cool in mid July. The Clark Inn has a country hostel feel to it. Great breakfast. We hit it lucky as there was a concert at the Opry House in Marlington the night we were there. The second day we cruised about 17 miles down to Beard. The entire trail offers great views of the river and mountains. Jack Horner's Corner in Seebert offers subs and pizza as well as some great soft serve ice cream. We stayed at the Current B&B the second night. The innkeeper will provide dinner at an additional cost as it is a 5 mile up hill ride to Hillsboro which would be the only other option for dinner. The Current is so relaxing, quiet and restfull which is good because it's about 36 miles to the end of the trail on the last day. That's about all these two fifty somethings wanted to handle, especially with a half mile detour straight up a steep hill in Rennick to get some pop and snacks. The section from Anthony to Caldwell probably has the best surface. We've been wanting to do this trip for years and it turned out to be everything we had hoped for. There are several shuttle services available but we used Appalachian Sport in Marlington who charged $95 to shuttle our vehicle from Cass to Caldwell. Hope we can do this trip again someday."
"We rode this trail on July 4 from the south end up a ways and return on a Cannondale road tandem. It was an absolute blast. The surface is well packed gravel and surprisingly smooth for non-pavement. We had Panaracer 700x35 Pasela tires pumped up to 100psi, which handled our 500+lb freight train very well. It is a very beautiful, lightly used (on this day) trail that gives one a nice sense of wilderness. A couple of campsites looked to be OK, right next to the trail and river with a toilet closet nearby. We did hit one recent repair section consisting of looser gravel which stopped us like one of those runaway truck ramps. We will be back soon to try a more northern section.
J & B
PS- follow the brown signs on 64N to the southern trail end, it's much harder to find from Lewisburg. "
"We stayed in a CCC cabin in Watoga State Park, rustic but wonderful. Biked from the Watoga Bridge to Sharps Tunnel and back. Great ride, ate at French's Diner in Marlinton, good hamburger."
"If you can't get into the Federal Witness Protection Program, this trail is the next best thing. Campsites are inconsistent; some are in great shape, while some are dumps. I rode it on a 700 x 35 tire w/ camping gear/paniers and had a fair amt of trouble. A few sections are straight up RR ballast. "
"The only way I have used rail-trails is for backpacking and I must say there are not enough rail-trails to accommodate this type of use. However, the Greenbrier River Trail is the best one I have walked upon.
My son and I have walked about 50 miles of the trail and have found many things to do along the way. Fishing, swimming, and rope swings are a few of the better things along with the scenery. You may see a few people during the day but after about six oclock, everybody is gone and you have the river to yourself. There are great views, great company, and an overall great hike."
"I just returned from a mid-September ride of the trail. I started out in Marlinton, where I satyed at the Jerico Bed & Breakfast, less than a mile from the trail. The accomodations were fantastic, the hosts very welcoming, & breakfast a great start to my anticipated 60+ mile ride to Lewisburg.
The first 3 miles from Marlinton are paved, then become crushed stone and at time cinders for the entire length down to Caldwell. The scenery was a constant mix of the views of the river, the hills, dense forests and hanging rocks. I would recommend a front light for the trip through the 402 foot Droop Mountain tunnel, as you cannot see the ground and your eyes cannot quickly adjust to the darkness.
The trail is extremely desolate and in the trip to Caldwell I passed only 5 people. There are no phones, and no places to purchase food or water. It is highly recommended that you bring plenty of both. I had 2 saddlebags which afforded me the space to store extra supplies. A first aid kit, an extra tube & tools are also recommended. There is no cell phone service on this route.
The trail ends in Caldwell where there is a parking lot and a water fountain that puts out barely a trickle of water. A mile down the paved road to the south is US Rt60, taking a right here leads to the town of Lewisburg. My destination was the General Lewis Inn in the small but well maintained artistic village. It was well worth the 4 mile killer UPHILL ride and walk to the town which has an elevation of 2300'.
The Inn dates to the 1800s and ofers a great dinner & breakfast menu. I was able to store my bicycle in their shed in the back of the inn.
The next day I departed from Lewisburg and the first 4 miles were a breeze as they were all downhill on Rt 60.
I found the scenery on the return trip must more interesting as opposed to southbound. There are not many places in & around Marlinton in which to eat, however I would avoid the restaurant near the bridge crossing the river- I found the food rather tasteless, the help indifferent, yet the view from the deck tables of the hills somewhat compensating.
Overall, this was a great trail, especially if you like a rustic, peaceful and desolate ride to get away from the hectic day to day grind."
"A group of 4 cyclists from Ohio rode from Cass to Marlinton - about 28 miles. Trail was in good condition, a few rough/soft spots but no real complaints. We were all ring fat tire bikes, and this trail needs a fat tire bike. Good access to water and toilets are found on the trail, but no food stops were found from Cass to Marlinton. Supplies are available in both towns, but Marlinton has more selection. A great ride on a great trail!"
"Our group of four rode the trail as a bike-camping trip. We had planned for a two-day ride from Cass to N Caldwell, but only got to Renick. Here's what we learned...
Three ride days is about right for a relaxed, take-in-the-sights trip. I know that 127 Kilometers (79 miles) in three days seems like it would give you a lot of free time, but it didn’t. We started late (11am-ish) and wanted to finish early (5pm-ish) each day and the trailers kept us traveling around 14Kph (9Mph). We felt more rushed than we wanted to be with a 64 Kilometers-a-day (40miles-a-day) schedule.
Pack light. Low trailer weight is the key to enjoyment. Pulling the trailer is like riding an exercise bike with the resistance turned up. We had heavy trailers, but don’t expect to go any faster than 15Kph (9Mph) for very long.
Child carries work best to carry stuff. BOBs work great for light loads, but cause all kinds of rotational feedback to the bike (only one wheel in back, trailer not free to rotate about an axis from front-to-back). Child carriers have two wheels and the joint to the bike allows all kinds of rotation. Because of that, you’re just pulling weight. The kind that attaches to the seat post was preferred. The kind that attaches to one side of the rear triangle of the frame tended to “pull on the bike” in such a way that encouraged small direction changes in the bike. Make sure the trailer tire pressure is the highest allowable, reduces rolling friction.
Food is limited along trail. We started at Cass and didn’t need food there, but it is suppose to have food. It is a tourist heavy (relatively) so I would expect there is something. The next resource is also the best, Marlinton. Marlinton has several restaurants, at least one grocery store and several convenient store type places. If you need anything, this is the best chance you’re going to get. In Seebert there is a convenient store that is well stocked and has firewood (just off the trail north of the main Seebert road crossing). There is also a restaurant inside the State Park at Seebert, but it is a 4-5mile trek into the park (hills). Next is Renick. The Renick General Store (is that the right name) has some good food. Don’t look at the menu, just ask them what they made today and get that. They really don’t have everything on the menu everyday, as we found out. The convenient store part of the operation is stocked pretty slim, I hope that they stay in business. I believe that the Renick General Store is also a B&B. Oh yeah, the General Store is off the trail, “at the top of the Hill”. It’s at least a hundred meters up (328 feet), but was worth it for us. What’s that, 87 Kilometers (54 miles) and only two towns with accessible restaurants? It’s tough in between. We did not go beyond Renick, but according to the map the next food stop is N Caldwell! Stock up big-time at Marlinton.
Soften shock stiffness, get thick grips and comfy seat. Two of our riders had difficulty with hands and feet going numb. Ironically, the one that had the worst time had ridden long distances plenty of times without that level of discomfort. The best we could determine, the extended periods in one riding position (as opposed to single or double track riding) at a slower pace was the culprit for discomfort. Both of the hand & feet affected were women with small hands; one running thin grip-tape and a stiff shock, the other running normal grips and a rigid fork. All four on the trip expressed that their preferred mountain bike seat for single or double track riding was not the seat of choice for this riding style in combination with the distance. Touring seat, go big & cushy!
North to South travel is a net down hill.
Appalachian Sports did a great job with the car shuttle.
The trail and surrounding area is absolutely beautiful!"
When we rode on 4/3/02 from Renick to Marlinton the trail was in good shape. Great view of the river. Also rode from Cass to Clover Lick on 4/4/02. Not a real good place to start from at Cass. The trail was a little soft but still very ridable.
"Well I think all trails are great. The Greenbrier is a fun ride, although the gravel is a bit thick, so you will encounter slow parts. There are enough campsites, water pumps and towns along they way to restock, fill-up and rest. If you are used to riding on the C&0, plan for a little more time; like I said there are slow parts."
"Traveling beside the scenic Greenbrier River, this 75-mile long trail in eastern West Virginia offers many mountain/river vistas and a fairly quiet getaway from city life. While you can learn much from the trail's website listed at this site, I recommend also visiting the West Virginia Rails-to-Trails Council site - www.wvrtc.org. It had a bit more information that I found useful, especially how to get to the north and south trailheads. I'd recommend getting an up-to-date map of the trail that you should be able to find through the outfitters listed or through the WV tourism sites. Although outdated, I'd also recommend the book ""Rail Trials along the Greenbrier River"" by Jim Hudson. You can purchase it through Cherry Creek Cyclery. Since my friend and I had biked the New River Trail and used fairly inexpensive shuttle services, we had hoped to do the same here. No such luck! For 1-3 people it was $125 to shuttle you and your equipment from Caldwell to Cass. Understandable considering the northern end of the trail at Cass isn't the most accessible and you must travel some fairly winding roads to get from the south to the north. I recommend traveling this trail with a large group to keep shuttle costs down. We did find that Appalachian Sport would shuttle our car from Cass to Caldwell for $85 which we could live with. While there are places to stay in the area, we camped at the Seneca State Forest near Dunmore WV. They had 10 primitive sites and $10/night helped keep some costs down. However, the showers were closed, much to our dismay. Still the picnic area was open and contained toilets and fresh water. At Cass, the northern trailhead, we parked at the Cass General Store parking lot. This is much bigger than the very secluded and small parking area near the start of the trail. While we didn't have time to stop in, the store appeared to have supplies, souvenirs, and a restaurant. We had actually gone over the mountain to Snowshoe and picked up supplies and something to eat because the store wasn't open yet. The parking lot is about a mile from the trailhead and worth the ride. Although I indicated this is a scenic trail, it didn't have as many trestles or old railroad points of interests (POI) as a few other trails we've recently been on. Well, none that we could really take notice of. The map indicates that there are some old shelters, a watertank, and other POIs, but they weren't very noticable (no signs). Other trails we've been on had renovated several train stations and used them to sell supplies and souvenirs. This trail didn't really have those, except in Cass and perhaps Marlinton. The first major POI was the Cloverlick Depot. It has been renonvated but not open. Then at around mile 65, you enter Sharps Tunnel. Since it is 511 ft long and curves, you can't see the other end! Definitely get off your bike and walk even if you have a light. There's also one of the major trestle along the trail right after the tunnel as you cross over the river. I remember two iron trestles along the trail but don't exactly remember where we crossed them. Believe they were before the town of Marlinton, though. A word about the trail surface. The northern stretch of the trail had significant flood damage back in 1996 and has since been resurfaced. Unfortunately, it is fairly fine soft gravel. So, I wouldn't recommend any road bikes and maybe not some hybrids. Wide tires are better. I have a hybrid and I had to be mindful of the surface for about 25 miles. Now, Marlinton is the only major town that sits along the trail. You'll find all amenities here. Appalachian Sport is here and they have bike supplies if you're in need. They're across the river at the junction of route 39 and route 219. Also, there's plenty of places to eat. We just grabbed a sandwich at the local Subway shop and headed back onto the trail. One thing we missed because of time was the old train depot that also partly serves as a Visitor's Center. If you're going to travel the rest of the trail, now's the time to make sure you have enough supplies and gear for the trip. After Marlinton, there wasn't as much in the way of large towns with supplies and access to the trail is fairly limited. A welcome site for two miles in Marlinton was that the trail was paved! This made for some fast riding after all the soft gravel. We continued to make our way south and would occasionally go through a small town or community. But, as with much of the rest of the trail, it was fairly secluded. We stopped to take that in from time to time. The trail surface became more compact after Marlinton and we could pick up a little speed. We still had to watch out for the occasional rock, though. At around mile 31 we reached Droop Mountain Tunnel. Again, walking is recommended. This one is also curved but only 402 feet long. Not too long after this, we passed Renick. This town is just off the trail and it looked like it had some supplies and amenities but we didn't have time to stop. There was a small park near the river where one could picnic. At mile 15, we found some folks associated with an MS 150 ride going on this weekend. Apparently, the group holds road and trail versions the weekend after Labor Day each year. These supporters were now waiting for any stragglers and let us have leftover supplies and water which we were very grateful for. We still had about 12 miles til the end to go. Because of the river being nearby, there are ample opportunities to take a break and cool off in the cold water. We were more interested in getting to the end and didn't take advantage of that, unfortunately. At the end of the trail is a small parking lot with a few picnic tables and a water fountain. They could use a restroom here as well. For some overall comments, this trail is flat and reminded us of the C&O Canal because of the flatness and the type of scenery. There is water and primitive toilet facilities about every 15 miles, plus picnic and camping areas. However, definitely take along supplies because of the trail's remoteness in many areas. First aid kit should be one of those supplies as you might not be able to get to a town for a while if you get injured. My friend and I agreed that this is a better hiking trail because there are other trails that link to it and other sites that are best viewed on foot. Also, this is probably a two-day bike trail or one with an outfitter's support as it was just a bit too long to adequately travel in one day as we did. Overall, we did enjoy it but not quite as much as the New River or Virginia Creeper Trails which are nearby. Still, if you're looking for a flat, easy hike/bike and some seclusion/solitude, the Greenbrier Trail is definitely your ticket."
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