Southside Trail

West Virginia

5 Reviews

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Southside Trail Facts

States: West Virginia
Counties: Fayette
Length: 6 miles
Trail end points: Cunard River Access (Brooklyn) and Thurmond Rd. nr. CR 25 (Southside Junction, Thurmond)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Dirt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017459

Southside Trail Description

As it weaves past long-abandoned mining towns such as Red Ash and Rush Run, the Southside Trail tells the unique story of "King Coal" and Appalachia. Once an important transportation corridor used to haul coal from the remote New River Gorge, this recycled railroad corridor now brings new life into the area as a tourist attraction. Never more than 100 yards from the New River, this trail provides users with an up-close look at the natural beauty found within and along the New River Gorge National River.

A forest of large oak trees, rhododendrons and evergreens envelopes you while you travel the meandering trail along the bank of the river. One of the most popular among the area's many trails, this is particularly attractive to mountain bikers who enjoy the rough riding provided by exposed railroad ties along its route.

Beginning at the Brooklyn trailhead, head south along the New River. Listen for the exuberant screams of whitewater rafters on the water, one of the finest whitewater rivers in the eastern United States. Active railroad tracks at Southside Junction signal the temporary end of the trail. While the trail extends past these tracks to a trailhead at Southside Junction, a legal (and safe) crossing here is currently not available. According to the National Park Service, negotiations are underway, but in the interim, please respect this private property and keep clear of the tracks.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Brooklyn trailhead from Beckley, take US 19 north to Fayetteville. Take State Route 16 south through Fayetteville and turn left onto Gatewood Road. Turn left at the Cunard turnoff and follow the signs to Cunard River Access. Once you reach the access area, continue 1 mile up the gravel road to the Brooklyn trailhead, where parking is available.

The Southside Junction end is not recommended as a start for the trail because the active rail line perpendicular to the trail often blocks access to the trailhead, making crossing hazardous.

Southside Trail Reviews

Trail description is not reality.

We rode this trail a while back because of the beautiful description in the guide. We got lost trying to find the trailhead but eventually made our way to the parking area. We had high hopes as we started and the first couple of miles are beautiful as you follow close to the river. Then, the trail started to get more and more ragged and ok, we can go across a couple of downed trees, and deal with ruts and mud and water, but after about the 5th downed tree, we decided enough is enough and turned back after about 5 miles. This could be a beautiful and fun trail, if they took better care of it. It needs work and widening and removal of the leftover railroad ties which make for not so pleasant riding. Not worth the trip and hassle to find. Don't trust the guide description on this trail unless you just want to try out a trail that is a bear to complete. We were glad to get out.

Great ride!!

Rode this trail July 2014. Little rougher than a lot of rail trails I've ridden but what a great ride!! The river is in view the whole way and is really beautiful. The old rail and ties showing up periodically was fun to see and ride. We had to dismount and drag our bikes through some downed trees once or twice but that's part of the charm of a trail like this! Take your time and lots of water and enjoy this ride!!

Great easy hike

I hiked this trail in the summer of 2012, and had the luxury of the river access road at Cunard being blocked by a landslide,so I saw only one person on this trail for my overnight trip. By looking at the other posts, I suppose I'm glad that I'm a "homer" and chose this trail due to it's relative simplicity and closeness to home. I simply entered the trail from the Thurmond side. There is a public fishing access area that I utilized to park my vehicle just across the bridge from the Thurmond train station. I intended on fishing the New River along the way, but the weather for the previous two days rose and muddied the river. Therefore, it only took about 3 hours for the hike to the camping area about a mile before the Cunard access road. The trail, as you might have read in earlier reviews, is fairly easy, with some places being pretty narrow, and others being wide enough to drive a truck. I did have to go under the fallen tree mentioned in another post, and also around another at the beginning of the trail which had fallen within a day or two of my arrival. The camping area consisted of about 5 spots, all with fire rings and lantern posts. I only found a few pieces of (relatively) dry firewood, so you may want to take a small stove to heat any food. There are no toilets, other than the "portajohn" at the fishing access area where I parked. All in all, this was a great "get away for a day" trip for me, and was also the first time I had attempted a hike in some years. I am planning on doing this hike again early this spring, as the area is particularly beautiful in the spring and fall.

beautiful but needs some debris removed

The trail was gorgeous and the view of the New River was awesome, but about 2-3 miles beyond the trail head, there is heavy deciduous debris and mud/pot holes that you have to watch for. I turned around about 3 miles out due to a large tree blocking the trail.

to get to the trail, you will think you are lost. keep following signs for cunard river access. do not stop at the brooklyn mine trail or kaymore trail, it is very steep and probably not even good for an experienced mountain biker! I made that mistake and large rocks jut out of the ground, I have the chain imprint on my calf to prove it :). as a frame of reference, i am not a mountain biker, so give it a go if you feel so inclined.

keep driving along the paved road to the bottom of the hill, all the way to the river. be careful, the pavement is cracked substantially as it switches back and forth.

i recommend parking at the public restroom facility, then begin your ride there toward the gravel road. this will help you pick up another mile (one way, 2 miles out and back).

i am not sure the drive is worth the riding distance. from fayetteville you are looking at a solid 20 minutes if not more. I was told by Marathon Bike shop there in town to go to Thurmond, which will be my next excursion down that way. Also, there are a couple of bike shops in town and nice restaurants if you do decide to ride down there. i recommend the cathedral cafe, a wonderful coffee shop, after your ride.



The Southside Trail review

I detailed our experience on this trail - it was absolutely wonderful!! You can see it here:

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