Horseback Riding Around the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia
A great place to trail ride in West Virginia and visit a historic town with a cool old railroad, part of the Equitrekking 50 State Trail RIding Project.
Over the Labor Day weekend, I traveled with a group of members from the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman's Association to Durbin, West Virginia. Fortunately, the weather was cooperative and we experienced three wonderful days of trail riding and socializing around the campfire in the evenings.
Durbin is nestled in the Monongahela National Forest area in the Allegheny Mountains. Formerly a largely coal mining area, you'll find many historic railroads and rail beds here. Hence, many “rails to trails” are located in the area.
Monongahela National Forest sign.
The Greenbrier River splits into the East and West forks. On the East Fork of the Greenbrier River, we camped at East Fork Campground. Stalls and paddocks are available for rent as well as lodging.
East Fork Campground entrance.
Few amenities are available on Main Street in this small, historic railroad town so plan on packing in supplies for your stay.
Durbin – main street.
For the train buff, the Rail & Trail gift shop is also found on Main Street. The Durbin Rocket, Engine #3 was popular in its day. The historic Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad Depot and Engine #6 is located here and open to the public, offering short train rides through the area.
Railroad Depot & Engine #6.
Running alongside Main Street, sitting on old railroad tracks are rail cars from a bygone era.
From East Fork Campground, we had our horses trailered to Cass, WV to access one of the trailheads which would take us over 18 miles through the mountains back to East Fork Campground.
Our group at the Cass, WV trailhead.
There are many occasions where the trails will cross over the river utilizing bridges, so your horse should be accustomed to such crossings.
Crossing bridges on horseback.
Another trail crossing a bridge.
On one of our trail rides, located at the summit of the trail, we came across a family cemetery. It is not surprising that the family chose this spot as a cemetery, as on the other side was a beautiful view of the mountain area.
View opposite the cemetery.
While trail riding, many opportunities existed for accessing or crossing the river as well for the horses to cool off and drink. At one point, the trail took us over a converted train trestle to cross the river.
Trail crossing the converted train trestle.
Making our way back to the campground, we followed the old Durbin Greenbrier Railroad tracks.
Durbin Greenbrier Railroad track.
Upon arrival from our daily rides, I enjoyed taking my horse “Sunday” into the river, which ran adjacent to the camping area, to play in the water and cool off her hooves!
Playing in the river with Sunday.
On one afternoon, we traveled a few miles down the road to visit the Science Center at Green Bank.
Greenbrier Science Center
The large Green Bank Telescope is located here as part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. This is a great science center for both the young and old who are interested in outer space. This area is also a deadzone for cellphone reception so as to reduce interference with radio waves transmitted.
All in all, this was another interesting and fun-filled trail riding weekend getaway enjoyed by all!
About the Author: Susan St. Amand is a Board Member of the Shenandoah Trail Riding and Horseman's Association and employed with the Virginia Cooperative Extension as a 4-H Youth Program Assistant. She grew up in Northern Maine with horses on a farm and has been a transplant to Virginia for the past 25 years. She enjoys planning horse vacations with friends and has currently completed many rides in Maine, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, as well as Virginia, trailering her own horse.