Rafters carry their float out of the New River under the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville.
Beckley’s Lewis McManus Memorial Honor Rail Trail follows the former route of a CSX railroad line for 3.6 miles from Mabscott to the Cranberry Creek Shopping Area. At 12 feet across, it is one of the widest paved rail trails I’ve ever seen. It is definitely an urban route, using culverts to go under four-lane highways and passing through warehouse and business districts. Yet it also winds into quiet residential areas, with plenty of shade trees, songbirds and wildflowers.
When I found out that the trail comes close to a self-guided walking tour of the Courthouse Square National Historic District, I obtained a free guide from the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Although the district is compromised by some modern development, about 100 structures are considered to be of historic significance, having been constructed between 1900 and 1940. The 1910 former Bank of Raleigh, built with cut native sandstone, and the 1930s Art Deco-inspired Raleigh County Courthouse, make it worthwhile to take the side trip. Interestingly, the 1921 Raleigh County National Bank is the city’s tallest structure, as there is a law that stipulates no building may exceed eight stories.
- ELKINS 304-636-2717, randolphcountywv.com
- Eat: Tea or continental lunch at Kissel Stop Cafe; original chicken fingers and wood-fired pizza at C.J. Maggie’s
- Stay: Graceland Inn & Conference Center, a restored Victorian mansion
- See: Plays at the Old Brick Playhouse; Main Line Books; Artists at Work
- FAYETTEVILLE 304-465-5617, fayettecounty.com
- Eat: Pies & Pints; the Cathedral Cafe includes an espresso bar
- Stay: The White Horse Bed & Breakfast in Fayetteville National Historic Districtv
- See: Galleries such as Studio B and Mountain Art Glass; murder mystery dinners at the Historic Fayetteville Theatre
- LEWISBURG 304-645-2818, greenbrierwvchamber. org
- Eat: Patio dining at Tavern 1785; make a reservation at Julian’s for traditional fare
- Stay: Lee Street Inn B&B
- See: North House Museum; shops including Cooper Gallery, The Open Book, Linda Blue’s Unique Boutique
KEY TRAVEL INFO
- State travel information. 800-CALL-WVA, wvtourism.com
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy. 304-535-6331, appalachiantrail.org
- State Parks. 800-CALL-WVA, wvparks.com
- National forests. Monongahela, 304-636-1800, fs.fed.us/r9/mnf.
- George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, 540-265-5100, fs.fed.us/r8/gwj
- State B&B association. 304-592-0177, wvbedandbreakfasts.com
- Highland Scenic Highway, north of Marlinton. 304-799-4334
- Southern West Virginia. 304-252-2244, 800-VISIT-WV, visitwv.com
- Ski West Virginia. 800-CALL-WVA, skiwv.com
- West Virginia Mountain Highlands. 877-982-6867, 304-636-8400, mountainhighlands.com
- Mountain weather. 304-345-2121 (Charleston)