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The West Fork Trail snakes its way through remote mountain valleys for 22 miles in the Monongahela National Forest. The soothing gurgle of the river complements the trail’s serene environment of thick forests, trailside dis-plays of wildflowers in the spring and summer, and dazzling colors in the fall.
The trail can be a little rocky with ballast left over from the railroad days—despite the fact that U.S. Forest Service crews perform maintenance on the trail a couple of times every summer—and a mountain bike or bike with wide tires is recommended for bicyclists. Trail users should be sure to carry food and water, as there are no towns or facilities between Glady and Durbin. The trail is not recommended for wheelchair use.
The route was constructed by the Coal and Iron Railway to haul away the region’s coal and timber. Opened in 1903, it connected with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in Durbin at the southern end of today’s trail. In 1905, the Western Maryland Railway took control of the route, and in the 1980s it was taken over by the U.S. Forest Service.
Starting in the small town of Glady, you’ll travel south along a slope overlooking the West Fork of Glady Fork, a tributary of the Cheat River. Clearings in groves of conifers (the town is named for these glades) reveal views of the nearby mountains.
In about 3.5 miles, you’ll meet the High Falls Trail, which takes a 6-mile round-trip (not part of this route) to a swimming hole and horse-shoe-shaped waterfall on Shavers Fork. Near the falls, you can walk along the tracks of a tourist train that stops here.
In a couple more miles, the West Fork Trail picks up the West Fork of the Greenbrier River, which you’ll follow on a slightly downhill, serpentine route to Durbin. The trail traces the meandering river, which makes sweeping turns through a tight valley amid steep hillsides. The West Fork is well known for its brook trout, and you’re bound to see anglers along the way.
The trail ends in Durbin, the century-old railroad stop that today is home to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which hauls tourists in vintage rolling stock behind steam-belching locomotives to several mountain destinations. You’ll also find a café and grocery store in town, as well as the 1-mile Widney Park Rail-Trail, which connects a campground near the train station with a park.
About 15 miles south of Durbin is Cass, another tourist railroad town and the northern point of the state’s longest rail-trail, the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail.
Parking in Glady is available by the West Fork Trail (0.3 mile south of Glady Road/CR 27).
Parking in Durbin is available at Highland St/CR 250/17 & US 250/WV 92.
To reach the northern trailhead from Elkins, take US 33 east and make a right onto County Road 27 (Glady Road). Follow it for approximately 10 miles to the town of Glady. When you come to the intersection of Glady and Elliots roads, continue straight on Glady through the stop sign and follow the road for approximately 0.25 mile to where it dead-ends. The trailhead will be directly in front of you.
To reach the southern trailhead from Elkins, take US 219 south to Huttonsville. Merge onto US 250 going south and follow it all the way to Durbin. Look for the trailhead on the left about 1 mile before you reach the town.
Recently mowed the surface was good. We saw lots of deer. Don't forget good Ice cream in Durbin. There is a good campground there as well that stables horse's. The steam excursion is worth it.
It's OK not great. Absolutly no cell service
I biked on this trail in August 2019. The flora is highly varied and very beautiful. However, the trail is poor for biking. It was miserable biking on a hybrid, and I do not think it would be any more enjoyable on a mountain bike. The trail surface is not mostly ballast. The surface varies from ballast to deep mud to uncut vegetation. In some sections I was riding through thick grass and weeds. The poor trail surface forced me to keep my eyes glued to the trail making it hard to enjoy the beautiful flora. This trail was in better shape years ago. Durbin does not have an attractive Main Street corridor. It is depressed and has few amenities.
The trail had uncut grass and thorny blackberry bushes, making it difficult for our family. Not even a mile into the south end (Durbin), we had to navigate a rock slide. At roughly mile 8, we had a downed tree to go over that had probably been there only a few days. We planned to camp, and luckily we spotted some around the Iron Bridge area (about mile 10). Several campsites span that section on the parallel Forest Road 44. On day 2, we chose to ride the forest road instead - up to the Wildell access point, then back down to our car in Durbin. Very hilly and fun forest road!
Trail was recently maintained, thank you. Enjoyed the workout in the middle section. Would have been nice to have known that the trail was closed at mile 15 due to construction.
Trail needs some maintenance. Would be nice if it was maintained from both ends. Grass is starting to overtake the trail. It is an enjoyable ride - started from Clymer but as we reached the mid point we should have brought weed whackers.
Tried to ride this trail on 5/31/17 starting in Durbin. Had a nice chat with a local while gearing up. First quarter mile was good, then the overgrowth started. Further I rode, the worse it got. At around mile 7 it really was out of control, but I rode on. Around mile 8 there was a blowdown to climb over. The growth was seat high at this point. About mile 9 it was a single track ride and could not see the trail, just a path in the "grass". I turned around as I like to see what I'm riding into, and could not. A big disappointment. It was not worth the drive to get there. Don't bother. Ride the Allegheny Highlands Trail in Elkins instead!
This was my first time on this trail although I had heard about it for a number of years. My friend and I decided to ride it October 24th, 2015 on a cool cloudy day. After checking out the grade and because we were riding the 22 mile trail out and back, we decided to start in Durbin and ride to Glady and back. This was a good choice in our opinion, get the longer climb out of the way first.
The trail has been recently mowed in the middle however when trying to stay in the two main tracks the overhanging briers and bushes will force you into the grassy portion of the trail although I didn't find it very annoying. The only problem is the grassy area's are a bit moist, thus slowing you like someone slammed on the brakes. Be prepared for a good workout but I found the scenery was worth it.
Note: toward the northern end for about the last 7 miles they appear to be now mowing the sides of the trail as well and we saw the tractor with a flail mower unit attached and the sides of the trail had been mowed from there to Glady. This will be great if they go ahead and finish all the way to Durbin.
With it being a bit moist in the grassy areas, and there are a few of them as well, just plan on it taking longer than usual to pedal the distance. We stopped a few times for photos and to partake of a few apples that grew along the trail, however it still took my friend and I nearly 5 hours to do the 44 miles, this included about a 15 minutes lunch break at the Glady trail head. That was about an hour more than we expected but had allowed plenty of time. We are both strong riders and were on mountain bikes converted to gravel grinders.
This is a beautiful trail and my friend and I both feel in the spring when all the laurel and flowers will be blooming it should be amazing. We now plan to try it then as well.
I only rated this trail with 4 stars because it could be better with a little more maintenance however if you are used to kinda tough rail trails this one is a must.
Rode this in September from north to south on a loaded touring bike with 38" knobby tires. The first few miles are uphill, then the rest downhill to Durbin. I was surprised to find the surface is in really good shape, the scenery beautiful. The trail feels really remote, and though a road parallels it the whole way, there was no sound of traffic. I didn't see a lot of wildlife but I'm sure there is plenty. I can imagine the mosquitoes might be bad mid-summer but I had no problems that way. The track is getting overgrown, especially in the middle reaches. Only thing it really needs is whacking back the shrubs and trees that often impinge on the pathway. I would give it 4 1/2 stars.
went out to do some hiking and camping last yr got sum rude comments from ppl walkin the first section of trail so i went up a side trail to get away from that other than that the country was beautiful and i did find a kind hearted local local lady that made up for the rude ones
I started on the northern most end in Glady. The parking lot is easy to find since the road dead ends at the lot. There is plenty of parking.
For reference, I was on a cyclocross bike (700x32mm tires) pulling a BOB trailer loaded with all my camping gear. I am a strong rider with mountain bike skills. If you plan on riding this trail, it is not for beginners. There is elevation change. There are many spots where the trail disappears into a sea of grass. I did not see a single other person on this trail.
The trail begins on gravel and is used by local farmers to drive between fields. It looked like the grass/trail is maintained/mowed by the locals (thank you). After a few miles the trail gets narrow and the grass/weeds geet deeper. I don't think there has been any trail maintenance for years. I was riding for many miles on sometimes chin deep grass. The surface was smooth. However, there were often times I could not see any trail. It was field after field. A positive...there were no briar bushes!
The southern end of the trail ends in a parking area just outside of the town of Durbin. You will ride a short distance on the road (low to no traffic) to reach the "main street" of town. The town is quite nice with 1 of everything you might need. There is a family style restaurant, a bar and a grocery store.
I stayed in the East Fork Campground that is literally visual distance from the towns "main street". It was very convenient to walk into town. The campground was very well maintained and had clean bathrooms/hot showers.
I also took a ride on the Durbin Rocket. Its a scenic train ride that is well worth the few bucks.
My daughter and I rode the West Fork Trail this past Tuesday (8/21). We rode south starting in Glady and rode to Durbin where we were picked up. We rode on a tandem with 700x35 tires. It was a great ride. The trail is secluded. It parallels a forest road and crosses a few other back roads but for much of the way it is just you, the trail and wonderful scenery. The trail surface is rustic but very ride-able. In a couple of places the cinder / crushed stone was a bit soft for the weight of the tandem. On the first part of the trail we pedaled through knee to waist high vegetation. Around mile 13 there had been a number of horses on the trail which made for rough riding. If you plan on riding this trail I would recommend a mountain bike or a hybrid/cycle cross/touring bike with wider tires. In Glady there is plenty of parking but no services. In Durbin parking at the trial head is limited. It is a short ride into Durbin from the trail head where there is a grocery store.
A friend and I did about 10 miles on the West Fork and from Cass to Beard on the Greenbrier early this week. Both are great trails but I like the intimate views on the West Fork vs, the expansive views on the main river. Here are several tips. Forest Road 44 is mostly in great shape except for some awful pot holes if you go too fast. It is hard however to tell exactly where you are so I recommend a detailed Forest Service map or greatly blowing up and copying the Google map on this trail site to see the identification of the side roads and to know where the town names are in the field. There are not very many access points. We never found Wildell. Also the mileage on the trail side signs is not accurate. There is limited parking at the Durbin trailhead. Youker
This is a remote and scenic trail that is especially attractive in the fall. The fall foliage can be gorgeous toward the northern end, and the wildflowers and other flora along the entire length of the trail stand out compared with most trails. The river views are good. The trail surface varies in quality. Some stretches are good, others are rocky, and some are a little soft. There are limited services at Durbin and none at Glady. An excursion train runs from Durbin to the High Falls of the Cheat River. A quiet Forest Service road with a good unpaved surface that runs roughly parallel to the trail offers potential for an out-and-back loop.
"After a beautiful drive from Charlottesville, VA, by mid-afternoon we arrived in Durbin, WV during a light rain. Durbin is a tiny town with very limited motel facilities, so we decided a short walk under umbrellas would be much more fun than a thirty mile bike ride in the rain with no hot shower at the end. Elkins, WV, about 30 miles north of Durbin, has a number of motels to choose from.
The trail head is easy to find on the west edge of this small town. There is a small, undeveloped, but quite adequate parking area at the trailhead. Only one other vehicle was there during our stay.
The rain ended during our walk and left us to appreciate one of the prettiest trails we've seen on this trip. The trail has no improvements, and grass grows between the tracks, but the surface is surprisingly smooth, and would be an easy ride on mountain bikes. We saw enough of the trail to know that it will be worth the trip the next time we head east from Colorado. It is only one of three excellent trails we've ridden in West Virginia this fall."
If you want the most beautiful and remote trail...this is the one!
"Starting out from Durbin, we made it less then 5 miles before the skies opened up on us. Fearing that we might drown like chickens, we exited onto the adjacent USFS road & headed back. That's just about when my buddy lost the pin that holds the lower cog on his derailler. Thankfully, a local in his pickup gave him a ride back to Durbin. Although hilly, the USFS rode makes a nice ""loop"" alternative for the return ride from Glady (which we never made). Trail is definetily remote, and we shall return. Also, the excursion train out of Durbin looked real cool too!"
"If you want to escape from urban life, then this is your trail. You will likely be alone for the entire trip. Glady post office will likely be your last contact, take sufficient water and repair supplies. Cycled the trail last week and saw only 2 campers the entire length. Trail is smooth, but overgrown in sections ... cinder and gravel base. "
"My wife Pam & I began riding on the West Fork Trail at Drubin, WV. After only a short distance, we realized that it would not be very well manitained. It wasn't! But after another mile or so, we didn't care. The trail parallels the river for most of the way (approximately 17 miles), and there are quite a few places along the way that looked very tempting to jump in for a swim.
We saw a black bear on the trail about five miles north of Durbin. It was about 200 yards away, and when it saw us it took off up into the woods.
On the whole ride we saw only five people. One of them was at the north end in Glady. This trail is very beautiful but also very remote. There is a Forest Service road that roughly parallels the trail; it can be seen in several places along the way, and you can hear traffic along it even when you can't see the road.
It needs to be remembered that there are no bike shops, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. along this trail. You are totally on your own. Carry plenty of water. If you are on bikes, carry everything that you might need for repairs. It might not be a bad idea to carry extra food, a space blanket and matches, just in case.
We rode all the way into Glady. The last four or five miles going north are through mountain pasture land where sheep are raised. It is beautiful.
On our return trip we got rained on for the last 15 miles. It was a steady, comfortable rain that felt very good on our sweaty bodies. We laughed the whole time that it was raining.
We thoroughly enjoyed this trail and plan to ride it again."
I started in Glady and rode as far as I could. I ran in to lots of snow in the more remote areas. I didn't think there would be snow that deep in April. It was a great time. I'll be back!
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