The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
One of West Virginia’s mountain rail trails sticks out above and beyond the rest when it comes to scenic beauty: the Greenbrier River Trail.
The trail spans a whopping 78 miles, designed for hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers and horseback riders. If you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find it here. The Greenbrier River Trail passes through some of the most secluded parts of the state including Seneca State Forest (a must-see if you’re anywhere near West Virginia) and Watoga State Park.
Because 78 miles is a lot of ground to cover, here are the 4 most scenic activities along this rail trail:
1. Sleep Under the Stars
There is no shortage of places to camp in West Virginia, and the Greenbrier River Trail is no exception. If you are looking for some of the most inclusive, secluded campsites in the state, this is the place.
And best of all, they’re all free!
Expect rustic accommodations: 4 of them offer Adirondack-style shelters and that’s about it. At the rest, you’ll find standard primitive camping amenities: a picnic table, fire ring, trash receptacle and a tent pad. Most, but not all, have vault toilets and a water source, but check the trail map and be sure to pack water just in case.
Dogs and cats (on leashes), horses, and mules are all allowed at all 20 campsites that speckle the trail.
2. Get Spooked at a Ghost Town
Just feet from the Greenbrier River Trail, around mile 48 heading north, you’ll find Old Watoga Town. Almost hidden from view, this perfectly eerie little settlement boomed in the early 1900s. As the logging industry began fading out, so did the town, and it was formally shut down in the 1950s. For an adrenaline rush from the heeby jeebies, plan a stop here — it’s got classic creepy vibes.
3. Marvel at Sharp’s Tunnel and Bridge
Spanning 511 feet, Sharp’s Tunnel (and the accompanying bridge) are historic marvels that illustrate how engineers of the time built railroad tracks through challenging mountain terrain. Find this tunnel at mile 65.2 heading north along the trail, or hike in from the community of Clover Lick for a 12-mile roundtrip excursion.
4. See the Birthplace of Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for her book The Good Earth and was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, thanks to her marvelous work recounting the time that she spent in Zhenjiang, China.
Pearl was born in near Hillsboro, WV, just 2.9 miles off of the Greenbrier River Trail. If you’re interested in soaking up the history surrounding one of the most accomplished women in this history of literature, you can still visit her preserved home.
Discover more on the Greenbrier River Trail.
*Note: A small section of the trail was washed out in recent rains, but volunteers are working actively to clean it up. Check their Facebook page for the most recent trail updates.
Originally written for West Virginia .