While the entire trail is 78 miles, it's only a 1% grade, making it mostly even with easy terrain.
Time To Complete
Because the trail is so long, you can easily hike for an hour, a full day, a weekend or longer.
The trail is beautiful to visit year-round. The spring and summer bring wild color when the black-eyed Susans and wild columbine are in full bloom. The fall brings canopies of fiery autumn hues as the leaves change. And in the deepest pockets of winter, it’s a riverside wonderland surrounded by snow-covered mountainsides.
The 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail is one of West Virginia’s longest rail trails, and it meanders alongside the Greenbrier River for most of the way. Voted 1 of the top 10 hiking trails in the United States by Backpacker Magazine, the Greenbrier is in one of the most remote areas of the state, surrounded by national forests and state parks. The Monongahela National Forest, Seneca State Forest, and Watoga State Park are all nearby with offshoot trail networks and abandoned logging roads for hikers and mountain bikers looking for a bigger challenge than the trail’s 1% grade.
What Makes It Great
The Greenbrier River Trail is a well-maintained trek into both the wilderness and the history of the area. You will come across old whistle posts and a few scattered tiny Appalachian towns along the way. Though it’s well maintained, the crushed limestone trail still feels primitive because of the surrounding mountains, forest, and river.
If you’re taking your time along the trail, there are endless opportunities to just stop and enjoy what nature has to offer. Take a break along the river to picnic or swim, set up camp beside the water, or venture onto mountain trails into the neighboring forest. If you find yourself near one of the few tiny towns like Clover Lick, be sure to stop and admire the old houses and railroad depot. This is authentic Appalachia, preserved by tradition, mountains, and the people.
One section of the trail does pass through Marlinton, the only sizable town along the rail trail. Here you’ll find a handful of restaurants and local bed and breakfasts if you’d like to hop off the trail for something delicious or cozy.
There are also bathroom facilities every 8-10 miles along the trail, as well as primitive campsites and water stations. Whether you’re venturing to the Greenbrier River Trail for a long day’s walk to tackle a particular section of the trail, or to complete the full 78 miles, you’ll be glad to have the resources you need along the way.
Who is Going to Love It
Because the journey is so customizable, this is a trail that anyone can love. You can do a half-day or full-day trip, a weekend away, a week-long excursion, or even longer. The beauty of the Greenbrier River Trail is that taking your time is encouraged. It’s a great destination for families. With the low-grade and flat surface, it can be stroller-friendly for families with small children, or it can be an easy and tolerable adventure for young ones already on their feet. The young and old alike enjoy the Greenbrier River Trail.
The trail is also an amazing destination for avid backpackers and outdoorsmen. With neighboring national forests and state parks, there are plenty of opportunities to hop on technical mountain trails that wind up mountains and along ridges, and look down into the Greenbrier River Valley from above.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are many access points along the Greenbrier River Trail. Here is a map that shows all entry points along the trail’s 78 miles. The beginning and end of the Greenbrier River Trail are at the northern trailhead in Cass and the southern trailhead in North Caldwell.
To get to the northern trailhead, take either US 219 or State Route 66 West to State Route 66 East/Back Mountain Road. The trailhead for Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is along SR 66.
To get to the southern trailhead, you’ll take I-64 East and take Exit 175 to U.S. 60 West. Follow 60 for 2.7 miles to WV Route 38/Stone House Road. From I-64 West, you’ll take exit 169 to U.S.