Greenbrier River Trail

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Greenbrier River Rail Trail State Park
West Virginia State Park
G R T 2004 Trail Below Marlinton.JPG
Greenbrier River Trail south of Marlinton
Country United States
State West Virginia
Counties Greenbrier, Pocahontas
Elevation 2,116 ft (645.0 m)
Coordinates 38°13′18″N 80°05′39″W / 38.22167°N 80.09417°W / 38.22167; -80.09417Coordinates: 38°13′18″N 80°05′39″W / 38.22167°N 80.09417°W / 38.22167; -80.09417
Length 77.1 mi (124 km)
Owner West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Nearest city Marlinton, West Virginia
Location of Greenbrier River Trail's Marlinton Depot in West Virginia

The Greenbrier River Trail (GRT),[1] is a linear state park comprising a 77.1-mile (124.1 km) rail trail between North Caldwell and Cass in eastern West Virginia.[2]

The GRT route and its contours were originally engineered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, serving as a passenger and freight line before becoming unviable after the Great Depression. The right of way was gifted to the State of West Virginia in the late 1970s and the former railbed reopened in 1980[3] as a recreational multi-use trail.

The wheelchair-accessible trail features a hard-packed crushed-limestone surface[4] accommodating hiking, bicycling, ski-touring and horseback-riding. Access is provided at 14 trailheads.[4] The route features 16 primitive campsites (several with three-sided camping shelters)[5] and 50 to 60 picnic tables[6] along its length — and passes next to three state parks and two state forests[5]. As it follows the Greenbrier River, the trail drops 732 feet (223 m)[4] (north to south) along its route, crossing 35 trestles and traversing two tunnels — Droop Mountain Tunnel with a length of 409 feet (125 m) and Sharps Tunnel with a length of 500 feet (150 m).[7]

In 1999, the GRT was one of 50 trails in the United States designated a Millennium Legacy Trail.[8] In 2012, the trail was elected to the National Rail Trail Hall of Fame[6] and was named by Backpacker magazine as "one of the Top 10 hiking trails in the United States."[4]


The GRT follows portions of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's former Greenbrier Division constructed between North Caldwell and Cass in 1899 and 1900. The route was used heavily in the 1920s for through traffic via its connection with the Western Maryland Railway at Durbin, serving quarries, sawmills and tanneries[9] as well as agricultural and livestock operations.[9] The line hit its peak peacetime tonnage in 1926.[9]

By the 1930s rail traffic waned, with the coming of improved roads[10] and the depletion of timber tracts.[9] Passenger service ended January 8, 1958,[9] and freight service ended in December 1978,[11] with the line being officially abandoned December 29, 1978.[10]

The Chesapeake and Ohio donated most of its right-of-way south of Durbin, including the land that became the Greenbrier River Trail, to the State of West Virginia on June 20, 1980.[10] A contractor for the railroad removed the track south of Cass in 1979-1980 and the state purchased the track from Cass to Durbin for its scrap value to be used by the Cass Scenic Railroad.[10]


Greenbrier River Trail Trailheads with Parking[12]
Trailhead Milepost Directions Map Coordinates
North Caldwell 3.0 1.3 mi (2.1 km) N of US 60 on Stone House Road 37°47′37″N 80°22′50″W / 37.79361°N 80.38056°W / 37.79361; -80.38056
Harper 5.8 On CR 30/3
Keister 11.1 On CR 30/1
Anthony 14.4 On CR 21/2
Spring Creek 21.4 On CR 13, 3.5 mi (5.6 km) east of US 219
Renick 24.5 On Auto Road (CR 11), 0.4 mi (0.64 km) east of US 219
Horrock 29.6 On Rorer Road (CR 7/2)
Beard 38.5 On Beard Post Office Road (CR 31/8)
Burnsides 41.7 On Workman Road (CR 31/3)
Seebert 45.8 at Seebert on Seebert Road (CR 27), about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of US 219 38°07′36″N 80°10′33″W / 38.12667°N 80.17583°W / 38.12667; -80.17583
Marlinton 56.0 at Marlinton on WV 39 38°13′18″N 80°05′39″W / 38.22167°N 80.09417°W / 38.22167; -80.09417
Cass 80.4 at Slabtown, 0.5 mi (0.80 km) S of Cass on WV 66 at Deer Creek Road 38°23′27″N 79°55′20″W / 38.39083°N 79.92222°W / 38.39083; -79.92222


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Flood damage closes part of Greenbrier River Trail; all other West Virginia state parks fully operational". West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. 
  2. ^ Greenbrier River Trail State Park web site, accessed April 19 2008
  3. ^ "Greenbrier River Trail at WVencyclopedia". WVencyclopedia. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bob Downing (June 7, 2012). "Greenbrier River Trail great for W.Va. bikers, hikers". Charlotte Observer. 
  5. ^ a b Karen M. Laski (August 1, 1997). "The Trails Less Traveled". Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b "Greenbrier River Trail Makes Hall of Fame". Allegheny Mountain Radio. 
  7. ^ McNeel, William P. "Greenbrier River." The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Ken Sullivan, editor. Charleston, WV: West Virginia Humanities Council. 2006. ISBN 0-9778498-0-5
  8. ^ "Greenbrier River Trail: History". Greenbrier River Trail. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Greenbrier River Trail, West Virginia". Trail Link. 
  10. ^ a b c d McNeel, William Price (1985). The Durbin Route. Charleston, West Virgnia: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 0-933126-56-5. 
  11. ^ "Greenbrier River Trail: 77 miles of lush history". The Roanoke Times. January 31, 1998. 
  12. ^ "Greenbrier River Trail" (PDF). Greenbrier River Trail. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 

External links[edit]