This loop through the southern part of the Greenbrier Valley has the potential to become a day chocked full of adventure if you stop to hike on the Greenbrier River Trail, explore some of Organ Cave's 45 miles of mapped underground passages, and take a stroll around Alderson's downtown in search of "lions."
Starting just east of Lewisburg – parking 1-mile off Route 60 affords easy access to the southern-most-point of the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail. Rated a “Top Ten Hiking Trail” by Backpacker magazine, this rails-to-trails welcomes all non-motorized adventure-goers looking to hike, bike or horseback ride.
Visit the third largest cave system in West Virginia. Organ Cave actually contains many caves and takes its name from one with rock formations resembling a pipe organ. The cave has a storied history, with fossil remains dating back to the Ice Age and evidence of habitation by Native Americans. During the Civil War Confederate soldiers mined the cave for saltpeter, used to manufacture gunpowder.
If your rod and reel are at the ready, plan to make some casts in Second Creek. Ample fish habitat and easy to wade, the creek is consistently stocked and often sought for its lunker-sized trout. Catch-and-release, fly fishing only.
Ronceverte, French for “greenbrier,” was once an active hub for the C&O mainline. Amtrak travelers and freight cars still pass through the heart of town. Standing proudly along the tracks, the stately 1915 Craftsman-style Ronceverte Train Depot is a testament to this once vital form of transportation.
Serving diners from 11:30 to 3:00 pm, the Edgarton Café & Bakery is a welcome respite for hungry explorers. It features a lunch-time-line-up of local favorites. Their signature Waldorf Wrap comes highly recommended.
Drive into Alderson, and you might notice an unusually large number of lion statues. In 1890, a resident adopted an infant cub from a circus company passing through town. The tamed lion occasionally escaped its owner's yard and roamed the community. Putting a stop to the shenanigans, the town passed an ordinance requiring lions to be leashed. Although no carnivores prowl the streets today, the town boasts of numerous historic sites and quaint shopping stops.
Sarah Alderson - Alderson’s Store
You grew up in the Greenbrier Valley. What brought you back? My family has lived in Alderson for over 200 years, so I have deep roots here. A few years back, my parents were getting to the age where they needed help. Because of my last name, I’ve become kind of an unofficial ambassador. I regularly talk to people who want to know more about our history and the Alderson name.
What do you like to do in your free time? Sunday drives were a big deal growing up. I still love to explore the back roads and find things I didn’t know existed when I was a kid. I’m amazed at how much history is here; I see something new every time I go out!
What’s one must-do you suggest to visitors? Whether at home or traveling, I always tell people they should visit my family store. Alderson may be a little town in West Virginia, but it will surprise them.
“ Once a vital waterway for industry, the Greenbrier River has become a place to relax and unwind. ”