We love riding on rail trails alongside rivers. The Greenbriar rail trail follows the river of the same name, and passes through two tunnels. Seventy-eight miles long, the trail is in great shape, with solid footing, quite level, and is perfect for biking. Walking works great too; you will simply have to take longer to see everything along the way!
We had limited time so we did not explore the entire trail. We picked a section that included the Droop mountain tunnel, north of Lewisburg, WV. We started at the Horrock trailhead parking area, and headed north to Droop mountain. The 402 foot long tunnel underneath the mountain is pretty dark, so we strapped headlamps onto our bike helmets and enjoyed the ride. Once past the tunnel we continued on to the northeast, with the river in sight almost the entire bike ride.
Very few people were on the trail (it was a weekday). The one fellow traveler we encountered tipped us off that a black bear was near the trail. Keeping our eyes open, we encountered the bear, not off in the distance, but at the edge of the trail, staring right at us. We got the impression she may have had a cub with her and she looked wary. We kept pedaling. Once we put some distance between us and the bear, we stopped to see that she was now up on the trail, keeping us in her sights. We grabbed some photos, but by time we had gotten our camera out she had turned her back to us and headed the other direction down the middle of the trail.
It was early May, and colorful wildflowers filled the slopes on the side of the trail opposite the river. The weather was perfect.
We found a bench by the side of the river and stopped to eat the lunch we had packed.
All together, with plenty of stops along the way, we spent close to four hours, about twenty-four miles round trip, exploring this beautiful area. We visited a number of rail trails on our trip from New England to Tennesee to see grandboys (and their parents) and back home again, and the Greenbriar trail was one of our favorites There is so much more to explore, (another tunnel still to ride through!) so we look forward to returning when we are back in the area nearby Lewisburg, WV, on the west side of the Appalachian mountains. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks, Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has written for numerous local, regional, and national publications over the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.