Rediscovering the Loveliest Rail Trail: Greenbrier River Trail

The Greenbrier River Trail is a lineal state park protecting the almost 78-mile rail trail — the longest rail trail in West Virginia — between North Caldwell and Cass in eastern West Virginia. It runs through Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties, mostly within sight of the Greenbrier River.

I first encountered the Greenbrier River Trail years ago, before I’d even imagined writing MidAtlanticDayTrips. We were vacationing in Canaan Valley and drove to Cass Scenic Railroad to enjoy the ride up to Bald Knob. Afterward we just decided to drive along the scenic countryside, and found ourselves in Marlinton around dinnertime. We dined at a cafe alongside the Greenbrier River and the trail itself. 

The cafe is still there, although I don’t know whether it’s in the same ownership as it was then — a decade or more has passed. We remarked how beautiful the river was and noticed the rail trail. 

While staying at Watoga State Park, we had some time to walk a few miles along the rail trail after dinner — a two-mile stroll downriver from Seebert, located on the south end of Watoga State Park. This section travels through Watoga State Park and Calvin Price Forest. 

We saw a bald eagle, taking off from a tree — always a thrill. Deer crossed the river below us. We saw signs of bear: scratched trees along the path. 

We wondered if these two photos were of ancient fishing weirs, built by Native Americans or early European colonists.

Once part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, the Greenbrier River Railroad carried timber and served tanneries and other local businesses in the Greenbrier Valley. As the economy changed and the timber industry declined, the line was abandoned in the late 1970s. 

CSX donated the land to the West Virginia, and the tracks were removed in 1979; the Parks and Recreation Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources converted the abandoned rail bed was converted to a rail trail at that time.

The trail’s easy one percent grade and numerous access points make this trail popular with both hikers and bikers. The rail trail is packed fine gravel. You’ll notice white mile markers and park benches sporadically. Along it’s almost 78 miles, there are multiple bridges, several small towns, two tunnels, waterfalls, sweeping vistas and pretty views. 

As you travel along the rail trail, you’ll notice remnants of the old railroad, primarily whistleposts sporting “W” and the mile markers. This is definitely a rail trail to return to so we can explore its entire length.

Know before you go: part of the Greenbrier River Trail, especially the part in Pocahontas County (the northern end) lies within a National Radio Quiet Zone so cell phones do not work. An excellent resource is Rail Trails along the Greenbrier River, by Jim Hudson (1998, Quarrier Press); although somewhat dated (and so the information about the state of the trail is not up to date, it provides narrative about interesting points along the trail).

Getting there: 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 reach the southern trailhead at North Caldwell, take Interstate 64 east and take Exit 175 to US 60 west. Take this 2.7 miles to SR 38/Stone House Road. If you’re coming from I-64 west, take Exit 169 to US 219 north, then take this 0.5 mile to SR 30/Brush Road. From here, drive another 0.5 mile to SR 38/Stone House Road.

Access Points (from the WV State Parks Greenbrier River Trail brochure)

  • Milepost 80.4: Slabtown — located off of state route (WV) 66, about 1/2 mile from Cass
  • MP 76.8 Sitlington — from WV 28 south of Dunmore, take county route 12/Sitlington Road, about 4 miles
  • MP 71: Clover Lick — from WV 28 north of Seneca State Forest, take county route 1/4 (Laurel Run Road) 4.2 miles to Clover Lick.
  • MP 62.8: Clawson — follow unpaved county route 11/2 from WV 28 five miles over the mountain to the trail (this is a very rough access road)
  • MP 56: Marlinton — 9th Street crossing (behind the elementary school)
  • MP 55.1: Stillwell Park — from WV 29 in Marlinton, follow county route 39/2 about 1.5 miles to the park.
  • MP 55.2: Buckeye
  • MP 47: Steven Hole Run — follow county route 27 (River Road) one mile to trail parking
  • MP 45.8: Seebert — from U.S. 219 north of Hillsboro, follow county route 27 (Seebert Road) two miles to the trail parking
  • MP 41.7: Burnsides — from U.S. 219 at Hillsboro, follow county route 31 (Denmar Road) 1.3 miles to county route 31/1 (Workman Road) and then about 1 mile to trail parking
  • MP 38.5: Beard — from U.S. 219 at Hillsboro, follow county route 31 (Denmar Road) 6 miles to county route 31/8 (Beard P.O. Road) and then follow Beard P.O. Road one-third mile to trail parking
  • MP 29.6 Horrock — from U.S. 219 at Renick, follow east 4.1 miles on county route 7 (Brownstown Road), then 1.2 miles on county route 7/1 to county route 7/2 (Rorer Road), then a half mile to trail parking
  • MP 24.5: Renick — from U.S. 219, east 0.4 mile on county route 11 (Auto Road)
  • MP 14.4: Anthony — from U.S. 219 at Frankford, just shy of 5 miles on county route 21 and county route 21/2
  • MP 11.1 Keister — from county route 38, take county route 30 to county route 30/1
  • MP 5.8 Harper or Hopper — from county route 38, take county route 38/2 to county route 30/3
  • MP 3: North Caldwell — 1.3 miles north of U.S. 60 at Caldwell on county route 38/Stonehouse Road

Hours: Daylight although there are a few camping spots available along the trail

Websites:, and check out for points of interest on the entire trail (beyond the tiny section we walked)

Check out other interesting things to see and do in Pocahontas County:

Looking for more to explore in West Virginia? Check out West Virginia Daytrip Destinations

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