Feel like Asheville and Charlottesville have jumped the shark? Check out Lewisburg, the next cool Southern outdoor town. Located less than an hour southeast of the New River Gorge’s world-class paddling and climbing, the small town in the Greenbrier Valley is reshaping its identity from a regal resort destination to a progressive arts hub. Area native Melvin Dolan, owner of the Wild Bean coffee shop, has been a big part of the transformation. The active local proprietor shared the town’s best outdoor spots.
For an afternoon run or a casual bike ride, locals head to the Greenbrier River Trail. You can pick up the 76-mile rail trail just outside of town and within a few minutes feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The mountain biking scene largely revolves around the trails in the Greenbrier State Forest. There’s some great singletrack with a variety of loops between 3 and 15 miles. The Rocky Ridge Trail is particularly aggressive—it keeps you on your game.
The area is full of variety for paddlers. We’re only an hour from Fayetteville, so the New and Gauley Rivers are not far. Closer to home, the Greenbrier River has some great class III sections for stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also some incredible remote paddling on Anthony Creek, which is now surrounded by the recently designated Big Draft Wilderness about 10 miles north of town. It has a class III run that’s great for novices at higher water.
For great hiking, head for Big Draft, which now encompasses part of the Blue Bend Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest. The Southern Boundary Trail starts at the Greenbrier River and crosses Anthony Creek before winding out of the narrow rhododendron-filled valley into the mountains or you can just follow the valley on the Anthony Creek Trail. Another popular route is the Blue Bend Loop Trail.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE at blueridgeoutdoors.com. Find detailed maps and trail descriptions for other top outdoor destinations here.