The Greenbrier Trail is an old railway line running along the Greenbrier River in West Virginia through valleys nearly parallel to the Blue Ridge Mountains between Caldwell (near Lewisburg) and Cass. We drove about 2.5 hours on Saturday afternoon to Lewisburg, enjoying sunny scenery along the way. The approach to the West Virginia-Virginia border along Interstate 64 is uphill for miles. C’s little 4-cylinder Saturn struggled up the hills in low gears. Eventually, we arrived in Lewisburg and found our borderline sleazy motel next to the State Agricultural Fair grounds. The motel looked like run-down apartments from the outside, but was reasonably clean inside. After storing our bikes in the motel room we drove to the start of the Greenbrier Trail. All thoughts of riding directly to the trail from the motel vanished as we traveled the 5.7-mile mostly downhill route to the trail! Neither of us wanted C to be riding that uphill route back to the motel the following morning!
Once we had located the beginning of the trail we drove back to Lewisburg and walked around the picturesque streets. Most of the buildings were constructed in the 1890’s, and it was easy to imagine dirt streets and horses in the town a hundred years ago. Many of the storefronts are now antique stores. Soon it was dinnertime. We tried a Western Sizzlin’, but we should have chosen the nearby Applebee’s. C’s steak tasted like plastic, and we continually brushed flies away from our food. With leaden stomachs we returned to the motel for an early bedtime.
|Near dawn light was dim at the start.|
|C turns around at mile marker 14.|
|The Greenbrier River. Notice fog on the mountainside in the center.|
|A small bridge along the trail|
|Entrance to the Droop Mountain Tunnel|
|Exit of the Droop Mountain Tunnel. Notice the square wooden framework shoring up the crumbling tunnel ceiling. Lots of rocks had fallen on this wooden framework.|
|Nice view of the Greenbrier River after the tunnel exit|
|Another typical trailside view. Don't you want to follow this path?|
|The very welcome paved section of trail just before Marlinton.|
|My bike leans against mile marker 56 in Marlinton|
We weren’t sure of our exact meeting place, so I wondered where to go. A few minutes later I spotted C waiting a few hundred yards further along the trail near the pretty restored Marlinton Railroad Station. I leaned my bike against the station. We sat in the shade while I had a little lunch break and a welcome relief from the hunched riding position. During the trip I ate 2 bananas, 1 apple, 2 small fruit danishes C procured from the free motel breakfast, and I drank 3 water bottles. Marlinton was a old-fashioned pretty town. There was an old “Rambler” dealership building with the original neon “Rambler” sign still operating! On the ride out of Marlinton I passed a street lined with small identical houses which looked like coal company houses. Some were stereotypically rundown with faded paint and the family wash hanging on the front porch.
|C meets me at the yellow restored train station in Marlinton.|
|The entrance to Sharps Tunnel is just across this bridge.|
|Entrance to Sharps Tunnel|
|Sharps Tunnel exit. Note arch-shaped bracing to guard against rock falls.|
|View looking forward from the Sharps Tunnel exit.|
|Nicely restored depot at Clover Lick|
|Mile marker 78. Only 1.4 miles to the finish!|
At the finish I had biked 76.3 miles in 7 hours and 47 minutes for an overall average speed of 9.8 MPH. I covered the final 23.4 miles from Marlinton to Cass in 2 hours and 12 minutes for an average speed of 10.63 MPH in the final segment. If I neglect the 33 minutes spent in the Marlinton lunch break, I spent 7 hours and 14 minutes actually pedaling, so my average pedaling speed works out to 10.55 MPH. The 76.3-mile trip distance is the longest single day trail ride I've ever done.
|Another fantastic trail ride completed!|
We started driving home at 3:08. The ride was very pretty, but also very slow! There are no interstate highways in this portion of West Virginia. The main road winds through mountainous country with lots of turns and hills. Quaint old-fashioned houses nestle in neat little hillside niches, and there were long lines of sight over fields and farms. Along the way we passed the Pearl Buck birthplace.
After about two laborious hours, we arrived at Interstate 64 near Lewisburg. By this time we were both quite hungry. We had been dreaming of Burger King for an hour. Foolishly, we decided to pass up the inconveniently located Burger King in Lewisburg. We thought another more convenient Burger King would come soon at one of the exits along 64. How wrong we were! We drove for hours without finding anywhere to eat. We were almost all the way home before stopping at the Cloverdale Burger King about an hour from home! By that time we were extremely hungry. That night we were both very tired. Sleep felt grand!