Once a C&O rail line, the Greenbrier River Trail follows 78 miles of the longest free-flowing river in the East and winds through two counties rife with wildlife and scenic beauty.
With the river flowing north to south, from Caldwell, WV to Cass, the trail’s mellow one percent grade and numerous access points make it accessible to hikers and bikers of all abilities. A wide gravel-packed path, white “whistle post” mile markers, park benches and water stops are all trademarks of the trail. Plan a long weekend with bed-and-breakfast or camping stops for an excellent, if ambitious, introduction to the trail’s entirety. Two tunnels, dozens of bridges, spectacular views -- including waterfalls, rhododendron, sweeping vistas -- and yes, the river, entice many to follow this scenic “byway” through the mountains.
Trail Head: The most southern section, the 33 miles in Greenbrier County, delivers laid-back hiking, biking, fishing and the consummate swimming hole or two. The trail begins just outside of Lewisburg. Within the first mile, a picnic area complete with creek and waterfall will entertain even the youngest of family members. Another half mile and the river routes around a flat-topped boulder -- a local hangout for sunbathing and a refreshing river dip.
Mile Marker 13-14: One mile south of the Anthony access is a wide, deep pool on the Greenbrier River, perfect for swimming and fishing. For those who prefer to be on the move, bring an inner tube for a leisurely cruise on one of the nearby sections. To explore a unique side trail, hop off at Anthony Creek. Take the bridge over to river left – you’ll see the trail on you’re right. It winds into the mountains with creek crossings and deep pools for swimming.
Mile Marker 25: Just North of Renick and a mile off the trail, blueberry picking at the White Oak Blueberry Farm is worth its weight in fresh-from-the-bush-berries.
Mile Marker 30: About 400 feet long, the Droop Mountain Tunnel cuts through the mountain near Horrock. At its darkest point, it’s easy to feel a moment’s hesitation before seeing light from the tunnel opening on the other side. The most scenic section begins just above the tunnel (mile 31) at Beard. Rapids and remote riverside campsites are ideal for overnight or full day excursions. Bring a fishing pole. The smallmouth and rock bass are known to thrive in these waters.
With shuttle services and rentals for both water and land, local outfitters can help make the most out of your experience:
Free Spirit Adventures - bike rentals, shuttles and tours on the Greenbrier River Trail
Greenbrier Outfitters - bike, kayak and SUP rentals and guided trips
Safety note: This is a wild river. If you’re planning on getting wet, wear a PFD. And never, ever dive head first. There are rocks in these parts.