Does your bike have a permanent place on the top of your car or hitched on your bumper? Are your vacation destinations selected by the quality of riding? If given a choice between leaving your spouse at home or leaving your bike behind – well, there’s really no choice to be made?
Take a hard look at the Greenbrier Valley for your next exploratory weekend getaway. After all, with so many riding options, there’s no reason to leave home without either of your much-loved companions.
You’ll find Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs are just right for "home base." Between the two towns--only 15 minutes apart--are numerous options to rest your head, laid-back eateries for a sit-down bite to eat and informed folks with plenty of knowledge about the area.
With more than one way to enjoy a bike ride in these mountains, options run the gamut from road and recreational jaunts to mountain bike and downhill rides.
RAILS-TO-TRAILS. For starters, check out the Greenbrier River Trail. It’s a gravel-packed, rails-to-trails that loosely follows the Greenbrier River for 78 miles. Its easy, one-percent grade is suitable for any age or skill level. Depending on agenda and ambition, your time in the saddle can be an hour or two or extended to a multi-day, overnight trek. To make your excursion even more of an adventure, plan a few stops along the trail. There are picnic sites, swimming and fishing holes, even established campsites with rustic facilities and potable water.
If you’re lacking an extra shuttle vehicle or prefer a guided trip, check-in with Greenbrier Outfitters. They’re equipped with a full fleet of bikes to rent, including e-bikes, kiddie trailers and tag-alongs for youngsters on the trip. Open by appointment, Free Spirit Adventures also services the river trail with bike rentals and guided tours. Their rental program includes hybrid trail bikes, tandems and tag-alongs.
MOUNTAIN BIKING. Another easy-to-access trail system is located in the Greenbrier State Forest. There are 16 miles of single-track trails that wind through 5,000 acres of forested parklands. Trails range from beginner-style mountain bike loops to full-throttle, downhill descents equipped with natural, gravity features and machine-built berms and tabletops. Before heading into the forest, stop by Hammer Cycle (in White Sulphur Springs) for some Intel on where best to maximize your ride-time.
ROAD RIDING. For those who prefer hardtop, the Greenbrier Valley’s mountainous terrain features mile-upon-mile of low-traffic, country road options. Most are mid-range climbs that max out around 3,000 feet and roll across pasture lands, through hardwood forests, over streams and creeks and by the occasional roadside township.
Road riders with a hybrid-style bike will appreciate the 22-mile loop over Kate’s Mountain. It’s a mixed-surface option – pavement and hard-pack gravel -- that tops out at 3,200 feet. It’s a beast of a mountain but so worth it for the spectacular view.
EATERIES. A shortlist of local eateries for fueling up before you go or refueling after your ride.
50 East – casual sports bar, build-your-own-brick-oven pizzas, specialty burgers, salads and wraps
Cook’s Country Kitchen – home-style breakfast, lunch and dinner menu
Road Hog's Barbecue - slow-cooked meats and hearty southern sides
The Market - deli sandwiches and salads, ice cream
Hill and Holler - wood-fired Neopolitan pizzas, house-smoked wings, local brews
The Asylum – burgers, salads, sandwiches along with the best-fried chicken in town, full bar
The Wild Bean – full coffee menu, healthy breakfast and lunch items, smoothies and desserts
Thunderbird Taco - south-of-the-border menu and margaritas featuring locally sourced ingredients
RESOURCES. Depending on your bike-related needs, you’ll find the local service is knowledgeable and friendly.
Free Spirit Adventures - rentals, instruction, shuttles, tours
Greenbrier Outfitters – rentals, guided trips
Hammer Cycles - trail advice, gear, bike service