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Great Greenbrier River Race: Bike, paddle, run, and fun!
Karl and Michelle Teel Jan 4, 2019
Now in its 33rd year, the Great Greenbrier River Race is, well, even greater. Held the last Saturday in April, this year’s event is set for April 27, 2019.
What began as a team event with four members (canoeists, a bicyclist and a runner), the race now has many people who do it solo as well as family teams that even include the family dog! On the solo entries, one person does all three events (run, paddle and bike) whereas on the team entries, four people create the team, each doing one or two events, not all three. Kayaks or canoes are both fine for the paddle portion. Entrants compete for the many prizes spanning numerous categories covering a variety of skill levels, ages and team structures. And it’s all for a great cause as proceeds from entry fees and sponsors allow the trail association to help fund various projects, promotions and improvements along the trail.
Structurally, the race is a triathlon starting in Marlinton, W.Va. It works like this: you run to the trail and take it north to the turnaround point then return. After completing this three-mile circuit, you jump in your boat and paddle roughly four miles down the river to the blue bridge in Buckeye. Next is the bicycling segment as you ride south down the trail and then turn around to head north past where you started and all the way back up to Marlinton, making a ten-mile bike ride and the end of the race.
In addition to the actual triathlon, there are many other activities making the Greenbrier getaway even more fun including live music, and a picnic lunch for race participants. Of course the Greenbrier River Trail itself is a major attraction, recently named one of the 25 best hiking trails in the nation by Condé Nast Traveler. This West Virginia State Park is an ideal venue with a scenic lazy river that flows beside you most of the way, as you cross wood bridges and trestles, and travel through tunnels that still smell like coal locomotives. Along the way, nostalgic small towns and train stations towns bring you back in time and capture the imagination. Make it a getaway and take a long weekend or week. There is so much to explore and so much beauty to absorb. The campground is fantastic and there are numerous quaint lodging options available. Once you visit, you’ll want to stay! For information on the area, visit NaturesMountainPlayground.com.
Registration online begins Jan. 11, 2019, with early bird registration ending February 15, 2019. You can register as a team or solo for all ages. Visit TriStateRacer.com or call 800-336-7009
Stay tuned for upcoming information about the Greenbrier River Trail Marathon on Oct. 6, 2019. This 26.2-mile marathon begins at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and runs south on the trail, finishing at Stillwell Park, in Marlinton, W.Va. The proceeds of this event also help fund initiatives and improvements along the trail.
Parker takes helm of Droop Mountain, Beartown and GRT
January 2, 2019
Staff Writer Pocahontas Times
Growing up in Pocahontas County where there is a state park around nearly every corner, it’s easy to fall under the spell of nature and all it has to offer.
For Huntersville native Sam Parker, nature was a clear draw when it was time to choose a career, he just didn’t realize that draw would lead him to state parks.
“Natural resources was definitely a draw – something to teach kids and adults about the environment,” he said. “I graduated from Pocahontas County High School, and I was thinking of doing meteorology or something like that. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Huntersville native Sam Parker is the new Superintendent of Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, Beartown State Park and the Greenbrier River Trail. Parker is enthusiastic about the position and is ready to share the parks with visitors from around the world. S. Stewart photo
Parker earned a degree from Bluefield State College and worked as a health inspector in McDowell County for several years before he joined the state park system with a job at Panther State Forest, the most southern state forest in West Virginia.
He later transferred to Twin Falls Resort State Park in Mullens, where he was the naturalist, and three months ago, he returned to Pocahontas County to be superintendent at Droop Mountain Battlefield, Beartown and Greenbrier River Trail state parks.
“For me, our state park system is very diverse – from the resort parks all the way down to our day use areas,” Parker said. “Like here [Droop]. This is just an amazing place. Since I’ve been here, I’ve met people from all over the world. We have an eclectic mix of visitors.”
Going from being the naturalist at one state park to being the superintendent of three was a little scary for Parker, but he has had great support from fellow park employees who have had his back during this transition period.
“It was definitely pretty scary,” he said. “It’s pretty daunting stuff, but I have a great mentor with Jody Spencer and Josh Feather [superintendent and assistant superintendent at Watoga State Park]. All those guys and gals at Watoga are like family, so anytime I need anything, they’re there to help me.
“I thought Droop was going to be the toughest one because of so much going on and so many people, but now I realize it’s the Greenbrier River Trail, it’s a vast expanse,” he continued. “The maintenance part of it is the hardest part – keeping up with trees falling down and stuff like that.”
When Parker took the position, he hit the ground running, literally, with his first event as superintendent – the first annual Greenbrier River Trail Marathon on October 7.
“There was a really great turnout,” he said. “I think a hundred forty, a hundred fifty people were in it. That came right after I started. That was really cool.”
Following the marathon were two re-enactments at the battlefield, which Parker said was an interesting experience for him seeing how much the visitors and re-enactors enjoyed the park.
“We had quite a lot of people,” he said. “There was one guy, I think it was his first time being in West Virginia. He was just tickled to death. It was rainy and messy, and they slept in little pup tents, but he was tickled to death. He was from England, or somewhere in the UK. They even wrote a letter afterwards about how happy they were with everything.”
Experiencing the events at his parks reinforces for Parker that he made the right decision. While he enjoyed his time at Panther and Twin Falls, there weren’t as many events as there are at Droop and on the trail.
“Panther – other than group camps in the summertime, there’s not really too much interpretation and talking to people,” he said. “Twin Falls – there’s a lot of naturalists things – that’s what I was down there – talking about the outdoors and ecology. Up here, I get to do both the natural history and the Civil War history, as well, which is pretty amazing.”
An outdoors buff, he is – a history buff, well…
“The Civil War history, I will admit, I didn’t know a lot,” he said. “Even though I grew up around here and my ancestors – they fought on both sides of things. I have great employees – Carl Barb and Jessica Blake. They have helped me a lot with the history. Especially Carl. He was here for nine years and learned a lot from Mike [Smith], and anytime I need help, they help me out tremendously.”
Smith, who was superintendent at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park for more than 30 years, left big shoes to fill, but Parker said he is up for the challenge, and knows that Smith will be available, if needed.
“I always talk to people about how much he did for the park,” Parker said. “He was amazing – over thirty years of service to this park. He brought a lot here. It’s just amazing.”
As for his plans for the parks, Parker said there are some maintenance issues he hopes to address in the next few years and a few program ideas he hopes to implement.
“I want to try to do more interpretation things, try to get more events on the park,” he said. “Also, maintenance-wise, we want to fix up some stuff. Eventually, all the buildings out here are going to be re-sided with wood siding. It has to go under the historical designation. We have to go through the process since these are Civil Conservation Corps buildings.”
Parker also plans to update the interpretive signs with the help of historian Terry Hackney, who designed and installed the new signs on the Highland Scenic Highway.
Beartown and the trail are also showing their age, and Parker said he hopes to see some improvements, including new signs, in those areas, as well.
“Beartown is going pretty well,” he said. “It’s getting a little bit older, unfortunately, like everything else. It’s doing good for the most part, but the signs, we’re going to have to replace those. They’re looking pretty dated. The Greenbrier River Trail – most of the bridges are starting to get a little bit dated. Some of the wood is starting to age.”
Despite their age, the parks are still a big draw for visitors.
“People don’t realize the number of visitors we get,” Parker said. “Even if it’s a small number, it’s an eclectic mix. November, I think we only had forty or fifty people in the museum and there was one person from New Zealand and then another person from somewhere in Central America.”
A lot of people happen upon the parks during a visit through the county while some make trips specifically to see Droop or to enjoy the trail.
Parker admits that he is usually a rather quiet person, but when it comes to the parks, he can spend hours talking about the attractions in the area and the history of the parks themselves.
“With the park [Droop], it’s such a small park that you can talk about a bunch of stuff,” he said. “If I get going with people, I can talk for about three hours and it’s under three hundred acres. You think it’s a small park, but it’s still pretty large once you start talking about the history. Like the cave back there, I think that’s so cool. It’s past the Briery Knob Overlook. This time of year, especially if there’s a little bit of wind blowing, it’s blowing out a bunch of steam and it’s super- hot in there. It’s so cool that we have that for the kids and people to talk about the geology and talk about how blessed we are to be here.”
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is open year-round, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on upcoming events, call 304-799-4087 or visit wvstateparks.com/park/droop-mountain-battlefield-state-park/
Beartown State Park is open all year except during the winter and the Greenbrier River Trail is open year-round, and accessible from multiple points along its 77.1 miles.
Huge thanks to our sponsors and participants of the 32nd Great Greenbrier River Race on April 28, 2018.
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October 26, 2018
We are excited to announce that on October 24, 2018, the Governor of West Virginia presented the Greenbrier River Trail Association with a $42,400 Grant Approval to help replace and relocate to someplace safer, the restroom and facilities that were lost at mm 13 during the 2016 flood.
This is a great step on our way to recovery for the Greenbrier River Trail.
October 18, 2018
Our Greenbrier River Trail was named one of the best hiking trails in the nation by Conde Nast Traveler!
“Is there a better time for a hike than fall? We’d happily debate this one, as certain as we are that the answer is a hard no. The temps are perfect; the leaves are changing; and as the foliage starts to fall, you get clear views on crisp days of scenic America—its majestic lakes and purple mountains—off in the distance. We hike to burn some calories, sure, but mostly to pause, and look, and breathe deeply. As we move into cooler weather, here are 25 of the best fall hikes across the U.S. to take in autumn’s colors before winter hides them in white.
In this West Virginia State Park, a lazy river will flow beside you most of the way, while you cross wood bridges and trestles, and travel through tunnels that still smell like coal locomotives. Stop in impossibly cute Mayberry-like towns with small train stations of yesteryear (visit Clover Lick depot).”
October 10, 2018
The Greenbrier River Trail Association is a proud sponsor of the Greenbrier River Trail Marathon (GRTM). A first of its kind in the State of West Virginia, the marathon is a point-to-point full marathon at 26.2 miles through the relatively flat/slightly downhill (1% grade) course on the scenic Greenbrier River Trail in Pocahontas County, WV.
The marathon began early Saturday morning on October 7, 2018 in Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and ran south on the trail, finishing at Stillwell Park, in Marlinton, WV.
Over 150 runners, some traveling from as far away as New York converged on Cass to run this marathon. Organized by Pocahontas County native Kellyn Cassell, the marathon was created as a way for runners to enjoy the beauty of the river trail, as well as a way to raise funds to maintain the trail.
The overall winner and first to cross the finish line was Derek Clark, of Morgantown, with a time of 2:59:25.3. In second place was Andrew Parkins, of Salem, Virginia, with a time of 3:04:27.8 and coming in third was Aaron Walker, of Spring Dale, with a time of 3:08:44.1.
Overall winners in the female category were: first place, Shannon Shrewsberry, of Morgantown, with a time of 3:39:14.2; second place, Jaya Baker, Lewisburg, with a time of 3:51:20.8; and third place, Amanda Rhodes, of Churchville, Virginia, with a time of 4:04:10.7.
All proceeds from the GRTM will go to maintaining and improving the Greenbrier River Trail – through the Greenbrier River Trail Association (501(C) 3) – non-profit organization).
Next years’ event is slated for October 6, 2019. For more information or to register please visit GRTM.
The Great Greenbrier River Race gets an awesome article in Recreation News!
For full issue please visit: Recreation News
Duck reflections. Photo Louanne Fatora
OLDER UPDATES HERE
On the trail. Photo Lynn Creamer
WV State Parks
Pocahontas County CVB
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For more information about the Greenbrier River Race please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Great Greenbrier River Race
The Great Greenbrier River Race race is held the last Saturday in April each year in Marlinton, WV. With great prizes, live music and good food,the event attracts a loyal following of racers and fans.
Originally a team event with four members, canoeists, bicyclist and runner, the race has now attracted many people who do it solo. But there is still room for the whole family or the family dog on a team! Kayaks and canoes are both encouraged and the many categories encourage prizes for many racers.
CLICK HERE FOR PAST PHOTOS AND MORE INFORMATION
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The Greenbrier River Trail
Eighty miles may seem like a long way, but the miles just fly by when you are immersed in nature as only the Greenbrier River Trail can bring it to you. We are glad you stopped by to get more information about the trail, or to get race results from our big fundraiser. We have been called West Virginia’s premier rail to trail conversion and we hope you will visit the trail soon and see why.
River otters in Pocahontas County. Photo Louanne Fatora
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