Greenbrier River Trail Mile Post 49.3 Primitive Campsite, Watoga, WV
West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail (GRT) stretches from its Northern Terminus at the Cass Railroad Station, Stumptown 78-80 miles (depending on what resource you read) to it's Southern Terminus in North Caldwell. The Greenbrier River Trail is a Rails-to-Trails initiative, so being a former track bed, the surface is predominantly ballast, though there are some black-topped areas. Some locations of the trail that either see more sunlight or less traffic have seen grass overtake the trail to form a "two-track" or at times a mown grass trail. Most parts drain well and easy to navigate, while some heavily wooded areas adjacent to rocky cliffs see more puddling and thus muddier…but all navigable.
Because of it's relative remoteness and light traffic, wildlife flourishes along the GRT. This is bear country so I would recommend utilizing a bear bag or bear canister for your food and toiletries. I used a BearVault BV500 that I strapped to the Salsa EXP Anything Cradle attached to my handlebars…worked great. Eliminated concerns about losing food items and attracting Yogi and Boo-Boo. A Father/Daughter duo trailing us observed a juvenile bear not far off the trail mid-day. But bears aside, raccoons, chipmunks and other rodents can wreak havoc on panniers or backpacks containing food and fragrant toiletries.
At the time of our visit there were 15 Primitive or Rustic Campsites along the Greenbrier River Trail. Each person traveling the Greenbrier River Trail will determine which primitive campsite they prefer for a night's rest.
All the primitive campsites positioned along the Greenbrier River Trail (GRT) are free, first-come, first-served. Note that some offer more amenities than others, so those will likely be the sought after locations.
Traveling West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail is a highlight whatever mode of travel permitted, whether on foot, horseback, bicycling or even paddlecraft…no motorized vehicles are permited. The Greenbrier River Trail was chosen by Backpacker Magazine as one of the top ten best hikes in the U.S. of A. That's quite the billing to live up to.
I will add that we chose to bikepack the GRT, so I felt we did not stop at all the available sites, cascades, waterfalls, bridges, etc purely because we were a little spread out and by the time you past by a special site, the others were too far down the trail. While I absolutely loved our entire GRT trip…had I been on foot…more exploring would have taken place.
- Raised fine gravel tent pad
- Nice, clean, maintained and stocked pit latrine
- Picnic table
- Metal fire ring
- Metal Bear-proof trash receptacle
- No cell service
- No water pump
- No cell service
- Tent pad located very close to elevated trail
- Town of Marlinton
- Watoga State Park
- Greenbrier Resort
- Snowshoe Mountain Resort
- Cass Railroad
- Seneca State Forest
- Seneca Rocks
- Spruce Knob (WV highest elevation)
- The Wild Bean Cafe and Thunderbird Taco (Lewisburg) (Suggestion: Order the Guacadilla!…thank me later)
The GRT Mile Post 49.3 Primitive Campsite does not offer a well water, so fill up before you get there. Although, if you utilize a filter, you can draw water from the river or the tributary down the trail several hundred feet. Even though Mile Post 49.3 tent pad is directly alongside the trail, traffic is so light that it is really a non-issue. There is not a large clearing and with dense vegetation…pack your bug juice.
This is West Virginia, so even in populated areas cell service can be spotty…but on the trail, I would not count on it. This is both a blessing and a curse. However, for safety purposes, I do carry a Garmin InReach Explorer + in case of emergencies.
The GRT Mile Post 49.3 Primitive Campsite makes for a great overnighter from either Marlinton or a nice out-and-back from Cass Railroad from the north or from North Caldwell from the South…eliminating the need for a shuttle.
Final Thoughts: Whether you chose to spend the night at Mile Post 49.3 or not, is not the point…all the primitive campsites along the Greenbrier River Trail are great choices…the point is, mark your calendars, plan this trip and travel West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail!