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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 Milepost 63.8 Primitive Campsite, Located between Clover Lick and Clawson, WV (south of Sharp's Tunnel)
The Greenbrier River Trail is one of the most beautiful and often most remote trail I have had the privilege of bikepacking. If you aren't familiar with camping in West Virginia, you are in for a treat. The WV State Park system is fantastic and the State Park employees take incredible pride in keeping all their parks beautifully maintained despite poor budgets to work with.
GRT MP 63.8 Primitive Campsite is close to 17 miles south of the Cass Railroad Station. Trail conditions were wonderful, typical Railroad ballast, crushed gravel…at times it was wide like they recently removed the track, and other sections grass has grown down the middle to make it two track. All flat with a gentle one percent downhill grade from Stumptown to North Caldwell. Frankly, it wasn't discernible…but I'll take it.
Wildlife and songbirds were abundant and as shocked to see you as you were them. Oftentimes, the deer would run the trail ahead of you for 200 yards before cutting off onto their sidetrail.
The trail itself is recorded at differing lengths depending on what you read, but we started at MP 80…at Cass Railroad Station…traveling south to North Caldwell.
- Free camping(First come, first served)
- Newer Adirondock Style Shelter
- Newer Large/Clean/Stocked Pit Latrine
- Raised Tent pad(pea gravel)
- Cold well water- Hand pump
- Metal Fire Ring
- No Cell Service
- No Cell Service
- Cass Railroad Station
- Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort
- Seneca Forest (**Thorny Mountain Fire Tower)
- Seneca Rocks
- Spruce Knob(WV Highest Elevation)
- Green Bank Observatory
- The Greenbrier Resort
*Note in the video, I initially thought the steel containers were bear proof storage, but I was incorrect and they are bear proof trash receptacles.
This is bear country, so we kept all our food items and toiletries in a bear cannister during our trip. We did not experience any encounters or sightings, but fellow cyclists traveling in the same direction, observed a juvenile bear during the day along the trail.
In fact, WV has an abundant wildlife population and it is evident along the Greenbrier River Trail, which set this trail apart from other bikepacking trails I've traveled.
You will see in a couple photos that a certain slithering resident was unwilling to give up his claim on this Adirondack Shelter, we attempted to dissuade him, we even gently relocated him, but he was neither afraid of our presence nor was he about to pass up a roof over his head. So we acquiesced and moved to the raised tent pad 100' down the trail. He was a very curious character.
In June, you can anticipate random, short afternoon or evening cloudbursts…but they can be gully-washers. Nights were cool and most mornings I wore a long-sleeve Merino shirt.
Riding and camping along the picture-perfect Greenbrier River offers fantastic views and opportunities to cool off…bring your swimwear.