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This was my first visit to Kumbrabow State Forest, but not my last!
Kumbrabow State Forest offers lots of great trails, rustic cabins, and a primitive campground. This historic recreation area, carved into this 9,500-acre forest by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, is a wonderful place to unplug and unwind. It’s located at 3,000 feet above sea level on the western edge of the Allegheny Highlands, so it’s the highest state forest in West Virginia.
I stayed in space #7, located next to Mill Creek, where I enjoyed the relaxing sound of this gurgling stream all night long. Each camping spot has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern holder. There are pit toilets and a pump for fresh spring water in the campground. Two-miles down the road, there’s a bathhouse next to the Kumbrabow forest headquarters.
If you hike the 2-mile Potato Hole Trail, you'll arrive at the top of Rich Mountain and an overlook with a fantastic view. You can also park at the Kumbrabow gun range and hike the longer, but less strenuous, Rich Mountain Fire Trail which intersects with the Potato Hole Trail.
Make sure you check out Mills Creek Falls and admire the really cool CCC-built rustic cabins. The cabins don’t have water or electricity, but offer gas lights, gas refrigerator, fully-equipped kitchen, wood fireplace, and outside grill and firepit. My 99-year old mom and her siblings stayed here for their "sister parties" years ago and loved the cabins at Kumbrabow.
I suggest a side trip to the Highland Scenic Highway where you can admire the Falls of Hills Creek, Cranberry Glades, and colorful foliage during the fall season.
It was gorgeous and peaceful, right on the creek. So many stars!!
Campsites are first-come, first-served. We stayed one night with no permit. You get to them by a dirt road, park, and then the campsites are a little ways in. No amenities other than cleared level ground and a spot for the campfire.
This is a really beautiful park! When we arrived the park was almost empty and it was so quiet. We enjoyed the beautiful drive in with the fall colors and the little stream next to the road that goes through the campground. The sites are a little tight if you have a bigger camper. We have a R-Pod so the site was perfect for us. We stayed in a site that backed up to the mountain which added some privacy when other campers came in towards the end of our stay. The rangers were so helpful and just wonderful. There was a lot of wildlife to enjoy as you go through the park: deer, Turkey. The shower houses were cleaned three times a day. The sites have electric and at the shower house there is a spigot for fresh water. There was no phone signal at all for Verizon service, so a nice place to disconnect. The hiking trails were really beautiful. At the Upper Falls and Shupe’s Chute there is a parking area and a wooden set of stairs and board walk to the Upper Falls. The trail to the Overlook was a very difficult trail, but the view from the top was breathtaking. Worth the difficult hike. Absolutely loved the park. The only reason I didn’t give a five star rating is because… the last two nights we stayed some of the campers that came in were blasting music and yelling across the campground. They were so loud we could hear them from inside our camper and it went on until we’ll after midnight. The park has quiet hours from 10pm-7am. Despite the rangers making rounds it continued. Aside from that we truly enjoyed our visit to this park and will be back.
A couple of friends and I traveled to the Monongahela National Forest in search of some free camping. Unfortunately we had gotten there late on Labor Day weekend so we drove pretty far in to find a campsite. All of the campsites seem to be along the river and have a fire ring. Although our neighbors were across the river from us, the sound of the river blocked out any noise they had made. It was perfect! We also took a ride up to Spruce Knob in the morning, for two reasons. One because we wanted to see the view. Two because on top of the Spruce Knob tower was the only cell reception we were able to find in order to find our way out of there.
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!
Just camped there with two of my friends this past weekend, really cool site we were lucky enough to get a site next to the river! Get there early as it’s first come first serve! That being said just park somewhere and walk 300’ from the road!
GREENBRIER RIVER TRAIL MILE POST 9.5 PRIMITIVE CAMPSITE, KEISTER, WV
Greenbrier River Trail Primitive Campsite at Mile Post 9.5 is close enough to North Caldwell, WV…the GBT Southern Terminus…that you could make a quick journey north from the parking area for an exceptional night of camping.
Traveling West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail from it's Northern Terminus at Cass Railroad, Stumptown to it's Southern Terminus in North Caldwell has created a thirst that can only be slaked by multiple future returns. What a fantastic trail!
The Shelter is so new its not even noted on any but the newest Trail Map. It appears that individuals or families have either constructed or donated for the construction of both shelters and several protected bench areas. The Dale McCutcheon Shelter was so clean and comfortable, it's hard to call this primitive camping. Note: All campsites on the Greenbrier River Trail are first come-first served…no reservations. Backstory on McCutcheon Shelter: https://www.wvnstv.com/news/west-virginia-news/greenbrier-county/new-shelters-built-along-greenbrier-river-trail/
- Adirondock Style Shelter (New)
- Raised Tent pads
- Picnic Tables
- Metal Fire Rings
- Large, clean Pit Latrine
- Hand pump well water
- Metal Bear Proof Trash Receptacle
- No Cell Service
- Great Swimming Rock Trail South
- No Cell Service
- Hand pump well water was inoperable during our late June 2020 visit
- The Greenbrier Resort
- The Wild Bean - Lewisburg (restaurant)
- Seneca Forest/State Park
- Snowshoe Mountain Resort
- Cass Railroad
- Spruce Knob
- Seneca Rocks
In late June 2020, weather along The Greenbrier River Trail was cooler, with late afternoon/early evening rain showers. Only the last day did we enjoy warmer weather with blue skies. Which made the allure of a nearby swimming rock a great temptation. Several mall cascades lined the West side of the trail, which is ordinarily the side cut from the mountain for the railway.
With a few short miles until the journey ends at the Southern Terminus…we slowed our paced and stopped more frequently to enjoy all the sights and sounds.
Trail conditions got soft and muddy after the previous night's deluge through the more heavily wooded areas, once the trail was exposed to constant sun, it dried quickly. Blow-down did slow us down a few times. Interesting note: This campsite area is a relocation of one destroyed by the heavy rains and buried by landslide of 2016. The Greenbrier Trail itself travels between the Greenbrier River and was, in many places, hewn from the mountainside. It is these areas where heavy rains soften the soil and old growth trees dislodge and cause trail blockages and/or mudslides. Oftentimes, when bicycling, one keeps his eyes forward to the trail/road in front of them…but if you gaze around you on this trail…there is much to see all around and often above!
Overall, it is a must-do…and I can't wait to ride the Greenbrier River Trail again!