Turn your scenic train trip into a weekend excursion
Everyone loves a train ride, and West Virginia has quite a few of them—each one offering spectacular scenery and a comfortable place to relax while you take in the peaceful mountain views. Plan your scenic train ride around several other activities in the area to make the most of your Almost Heaven getaway. Here are a few trip suggestions:
New Tygart Flyer
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad offers several tourist train rides, including dinner trains and holiday-themed trips. For some jaw-dropping scenery, board the vintage New Tygart Flyer, which departs from Elkins and climbs through unspoiled mountain wilderness along the cascading waters of Shavers Fork. The ride features mountain grades, an S-curve tunnel and a high bridge crossing. The 46-mile round trip leads to the spectacular High Falls of Cheat and includes an all-you-can-eat cold sandwich buffet. The cars have comfortable seating and are climate-controlled, but you can upgrade to the Parlor Car for more leg room and adult beverages.
- Eat: Local favorites include C.J. Maggie’s, with its extensive menu of wood-fired pizzas, pastas and burgers; the authentic Venezuelan food of El Gran Sabor; and the gourmet cuisine of The Forks Inn Restaurant.
- Stay: Lodging options in Elkins range from the Victorian elegance of Graceland Inn to the modernized Isaac Jackson Hotel. Within an hour’s drive of Elkins you’ll find cabins, campgrounds and full-service lodging at Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park.
- Play: Catch a show at Gandy Dancer Theatre, West Virginia’s only Branson-style dinner theater. Plan your visit during the annual Augusta Festival in the summer and you can enjoy a celebration of old-time music, dance and folklore. Get back to nature at Blackwater Falls State Park with hiking and biking trails that lead to waterfalls and stunning overlooks. You’ll find one of the best views in the state from Seneca Rocks, towering 900 feet above the North Fork River. A viewing platform can be accessed by a 3-mile round-trip hike.
Cass Scenic Railroad
The steam engines of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park once hauled lumber off the mountain to the mill in Cass. Those days are long gone, but the antique Shay locomotives remain, this time hauling passengers up Cheat Mountain to the 4,842-foot high overlook at Bald Knob, where on a clear day you can see into two states. The 4.5-hour round trip also includes a box lunch and a stop at the old Whittaker Station logging camp.
- Eat: At Cass, The Last Run restaurant offers everything from sandwiches to hot dinners. Snowshoe Mountain ski resort, open year-round, has several eateries, including the popular Foxfire Grille and Cheat Mountain Pizza Company. In Hillsboro, the recently reopened Pretty Penny Café offers daily specials occasional and live music.
- Stay: Lodging is available in the restored company houses in Cass. Watoga State Park has two campgrounds for RVs and tents. Snowshoe Mountain offers luxury accommodations in cabins and condos.
- Play: Hikers, bikers and horseback riders enjoy the Greenbrier River Trail that runs along the river. The wide, shallow Greenbrier River is a popular spot for tubing and fishing. But no visit to this is area is complete without a tour of the Green Bank Observatory, home of the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and a participant in the worldwide Breakthrough Listen SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project.
The Potomac Eagle Scenic Excursion Train is best known as the bald eagle train, and with good reason: The train travels through a nesting area for the American bald eagle, and passengers on nearly every trip report numerous eagle sightings. The 3-hour Trough Trip boards in Romney and travels through the Trough of the South Branch Potomac River to Sycamore Creek and back. The 8-hour Petersburg trip include the Trough and includes a layover at the South Side Depot, where passengers can disbark and enjoy the shops and restaurants.
- Eat: Dining options in Romney include several locally-owned eateries like Main Street Grill and 50 West Barbecue. In nearby Capon Springs, stock up on groceries and feast on a deli-fresh sandwiches at Farmer’s Daughter Market and Butcher.
- Stay: The historic mountain resort of Capon Springs and Farms is the place to relax in a family-friendly atmosphere. Take a refreshing dip in the spring-fed pool or join in a game of golf. Family-owned since 1936, the Koolwink Hotel in Romney offers spacious, update rooms and budget rates. Several privately-owned cabins and campgrounds are within a short drive of the train station as well.
- Play: In Romney, the Trough General Store offers canoe and kayak rentals and shuttle services to the South Branch Potomac River, where you can paddle a gentle stretch and search the skies for eagles. (Don’t forget your fishing gear!) Learn about ancient Native American tribes and the area’s earliest white settlers at several historic sites and museums, including Fort Edwards, Fort Mill Ridge and Indian Mound Cemetery.
Contact our Call Center at 1-800-CALL-WVA to request a free travel guide or assistance with your trip planning. And don’t forget to share and tag your scenic train photos #AlmostHeaven!
This post was last updated on July 31, 2020