Rail trail Almost Heaven: Travel WV by bike
Ever been bike touring? Grab your cycle-friendly camping gear and hit the mountain rail trails.
West Virginia has more than 350 miles of rail trails, which are ideal for multi-day cycling trips. Even though you’re in the Mountain State, these rail trails are generally flat. The elevation is spread out over the course of many miles.
Here are 5 of the longer rail trails that make excellent multi-day adventures:
1. Greenbrier River Trail*
The Greenbrier River Trail is a 78-mile-long rail trail that follows the Greenbrier River and passes through Calvin Price State Forest, Watoga State Park and Seneca State Forest along the way from Caldwell in the South to Cass in the North. You are also within 20 miles of Beartown State Park and Droop Mountain State Park for a side trip or 2.
It’s almost like this trail is designed for tourers, with picnic shelters, primitive camping sites and plenty of water sources along the trail. Head into any of the small towns along the way to refuel, and if it gets too hot, take a quick dip at one of the swimming holes just off the trail.
2. North Bend Rail Trail
Ride the North Bend Rail Trail through turn-of-the-century industrial towns and small rural farming towns alike. You’ll travel through 13 tunnels and over 36 bridges as you take in this 72-mile-long rail trail that runs from Parkersburg in the west to Wolf Summit in the east.
You don’t have to worry about running out of supplies on this one, since there are services every 10 miles or so. North Bend is just 1 section of the coast-to-coast, 5,500-mile American Discovery Trail, so just keep going for a true bike touring experience!
3. West Fork Rail Trail
The West Fork Rail Trail is truly a wilderness experience, and the only resupply point is at the southern terminus in Durbin. It’s also less groomed than the others, so you’ll want to have higher-volume tires and a slightly more aggressive tread.
Bring along a tenkara rod or lightweight telescoping fly rod and stop for a few casts in the West Fork of the Greenbrier River— one of the best trout fishing spots in the state. The entire trail is 27 miles long, and runs from Durbin in the south to Shavers Fork River near Glady in the north.
4. Caperton/Mon River/Decker’s Creek Rail Trail
These 3 trails are essentially 1 long, connected 48-mile rail trail. Take the Caperton Trail for a more urban ride that parallels city parks, restaurants and storefronts.
Ride the Mon River Rail Trail for a more diverse route, following the broad Monongahela River towards Fairmont. This section has it all— suburban development, industrial factories and forested river valley.
To really work your legs, get on the Deckers Creek Rail Trail to climb from the college city of Morgantown towards the hilly farmland of Preston County. Most of this trail’s scenery is covered with hardwood forests and rugged creek-gorge landscape.
5. Allegheny Highlands Trail
The Allegheny Highlands Trail is a 24.5-mile trail with killer long-range views of the Canaan Valley and Spruce Knob regions. The trail is made up gravel, dirt and asphalt, running from Elkins in the southwest to Thomas in the northeast. The small rural towns along the way have plenty of options for grabbing any supplies that you might need on your travels.
There are other connecting trails than what we’ve outlined here, including smaller rail trails and quaint country roads. Explore all of West Virginia’s rail trails.
*Note: Since the trail follows the river, sections can sometimes get washed out in the rain. Volunteers help with cleanup. Get the latest updates on the trail’s Facebook page.
This post was last updated on July 29, 2020