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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.
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