Alongside the Midland Path: A West Virginia Motorbike Journey

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Babcock State Park
Babcock State Park, not removed from New River Gorge, features a lushly wooded campground with a lot of shade.

Inspiration for a bike journey can come from many avenues – maybe by phrase of mouth about legendary using locations just like the Tail of the Dragon or seeing iconic places like nationwide parks on tv or in motion pictures. Inspiration for this West Virginia bike journey – together with using a part of the Midland Path – was inside; I needed to problem myself and get out of my consolation zone. However earlier than I departed, I felt anxious.

Why the Hesitation to Take a West Virginia Motorbike Journey?

I had been on earlier solo moto tenting journeys, however a visit to central West Virginia from my dwelling in northern Kentucky could be my longest journey, the farthest from dwelling, and in a state I had by no means ridden. Doubts and insecurities have been plaguing me, as I used to be nonetheless comparatively new to bike tenting and using lengthy distances. I had additionally been raised in a city the place ladies didn’t journey alone, and definitely not on a bike. I couldn’t assist however marvel if I used to be getting myself in over my head with a visit this bold.

Whereas I yearned to journey to the New River Gorge space and trip the Midland Path alongside U.S. Route 60, concern was holding me again. That’s, till my husband encouragingly requested me, “You actually wish to go, don’t you?” When my reply was a honest and wholehearted “Sure,” it was clear to each of us what I wanted to do.


I made a decision to go the subsequent weekend – I virtually had the entire route deliberate already anyway – and started packing.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip

Scan QR code above or click on right here to view the route on REVER

An Unlikely Information in Maysville, Kentucky

After heading out from my home in northern Kentucky with a full pack on my Kawasaki Versys-X 300, my first cease was Maysville, Kentucky. I wasn’t anticipating the quaint, darling downtown with completely painted outdated brick buildings and well-maintained streets. Nor was I anticipating the restaurant I selected on-line to be quickly closed. Struggling to steadiness my helmet and equipment whereas I regarded for one more restaurant on my telephone, a person approached me together with his small canine and requested if I wanted assist.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip
The creator prepares for her West Virginia bike journey.

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After telling him of my plight, he eagerly provided to indicate me to “the very best restaurant in Maysville” and escorted me down the road a few blocks, sharing historical past concerning the city because the three of us strolled. Delite’s Downtown had an vintage signal befitting the diner’s ’60s-era inside decor, and you may inform it was all unique. I ordered biscuits and gravy – a highway journey favourite of mine – and whereas I couldn’t decide if it was certainly the very best restaurant on the town, I left happy.

A Signal from Strangers

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Huntington
Downtown Huntington, West Virginia (Picture by Sherman Cahal/Adobe Inventory)

After just a few hours of using with solely a cease for gasoline, I used to be relieved to reach at a German restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, known as Bahnhof WVrsthaus & Biergarten. Stretching my legs as I walked into the restaurant, I used to be enthralled with the indoor/out of doors multiple-story eating space and the environment of the place. I ordered the currywurst topped with a candy raisin chutney and a facet of buttery herbed spaetzle.

Get journey, lodging, eating, and different data about Huntington, West Virginia, right here.

The meals was scrumptious, however the actual star of the expertise was a rowdy group of males and a lady sitting on the bar. Their energetic exchanges have been not possible to not overhear, and so they quickly struck up a dialog with me.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Bahnhof WVrsthaus & Biergarten Huntington
Bahnhof WVrsthaus & Biergarten’s indoor/out of doors seating in Huntington was as distinctive as their connoisseur house-made sausages.

They requested the standard questions – “The place are you from?” and “The place are you going?” – and after they heard I used to be headed to New River Gorge, they yelled out in unison, “Fayetteville!” All three started speaking on the similar time, gushing over the meals, drinks, views, and roads in that space. I used to be in a position to make out “Kanawha Falls” and “Gauley Bridge,” two locations I deliberate on visiting, in addition to “hairpin turns” – that’s all I wanted to listen to. I felt a rush of encouragement, having acquired a transparent signal that I used to be headed in the suitable path for an amazing journey.

Driving the Midland Path

As I left Charleston, I used to be proper the place I needed to be – on the mouth of U.S. Route 60, also called the Midland Path Nationwide Scenic Byway. Route 60 runs from Kenova, close to the Kentucky border, clear throughout West Virginia and east to the Virginia border. Providing a mixture of mountain terrain, low-speed cruising by way of small cities, and rolling countryside, it’s a favourite bike trip in West Virginia.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Fayetteville
Fayetteville is a gem of the New River Gorge space, full with its personal small theater.

See all of Rider‘s West Virginia touring tales right here.

The route began out with straightforward, flowing curves, however as soon as within the mountains, it was exhilarating hairpin after thrilling switchback for miles on finish. After scraping my peg on a decreasing-radius proper flip, I put extra care into my physique positioning and slowed it down a bit. The turns rivaled a few of my favourite curvy roads within the Nice Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. 

Pulling as much as my campground at Babcock State Park, I used to be welcomed with a clear, fairly campsite not removed from the bathhouse and a few excellent bushes from which to hold my hammock. I used to be exhausted after a full day of using – essentially the most miles I had ever ridden in at some point – and it confirmed. I struggled to arrange camp and put together some dehydrated meals for dinner. Fatigue is a critical concern on bike journeys, and I used to be relieved that I used to be safely at my dwelling away from dwelling.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Babcock State Park
Whereas tenting at Babcock, I used to be in a position to get up to this pleasant view each morning.

An Ethereal Glow and a Well-known Bridge

Waking as much as a stunning view of my bike from my open tent, I used to be wanting ahead to consuming some actual meals. I made my first cease on the Cathedral Cafe & Guide Retailer in Fayetteville. A transformed outdated church, it nonetheless has the beautiful stained-glass home windows intact, which glowed ethereal colours on the within with the daylight shining by way of. A breakfast of croissant French toast and regionally made chorizo hit the spot, and I used to be able to hit the mountain climbing trails.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Cathedral Cafe Fayetteville Midland Trail
Of all of the artifical constructions within the Midland Path space, these stained-glass home windows at Cathedral Cafe have been essentially the most beautiful.

I hadn’t finished a lot planning by way of the paths I needed to hike, so I finished on the New River Gorge Nationwide Park & Protect Welcome Middle. It has an overlook of the New River Gorge Bridge, so I unexpectedly caught my first glimpse of its expansive kind. As soon as contained in the constructing, the pleasant state park ranger instructed I head to Lengthy Level Path for the very best view of the bridge, so I set out with their map, kindly marked up with my route.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Long Point Trail New River Gorge Bridge
The start of the Lengthy Level Path, which results in the highest of a cliff close to the New River Gorge Bridge.

The Lengthy Level Path was a positive, reasonably troublesome hike, however the magic was on the high of the overlook. Sheer cliffs dropped off dramatically on all sides, whereas miles of forest prolonged out into the space. The woods have been solely interrupted by the three,030-foot-long, 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge, at one time the very best bridge within the nation and nonetheless the very best east of the Mississippi. I as soon as stood on the highest of the 75-foot-tall Pure Bridge on the Purple River Gorge in Kentucky, however this was much more magnificent.

There have been two unstated guidelines on the high: First, you’re taking an image for the subsequent individual in line on the sting of the cliff in entrance of the bridge, and second, nobody places anybody else at risk. When visiting treacherous pure wonders, I’m at all times amazed that individuals have a lot belief in everybody round them – and themselves – to not fall off. After the picture trade, I sat down on a rock close to one facet of the cliff and loved a leisurely bagged lunch.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip New River Gorge Bridge
Standing mere inches away from the sting with the New River Gorge Bridge within the background.

Extra Exploration on My West Virginia Motorbike Journey

Earlier than heading to the sights beneficial to me the day earlier than, I crossed the New River Gorge Bridge. I used to be in a position to steal some glances over the guardrail of the four-lane freeway and was rewarded with views of the forest stretching so far as I might see and the winding New River tons of of ft under me.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip New River Gorge Bridge
The New River Gorge Bridge towers 876 ft above the dashing waters under. It’s potential to trip on high of the bridge in addition to on a highway under it. (Picture by steheap/Adobe Inventory)

Again on Route 60, I noticed the signal for Kanawha Falls and pulled off. It’s an impressively extensive waterfall, because it spans the complete width of the Kanawha River. The viewing space is a bit removed from the falls, so I felt disconnected from the highly effective water. Cathedral Falls, simply down the highway, is way nearer to the viewing space and is staggeringly tall, however the parking zone was so busy that I couldn’t pull over to get a more in-depth look; I solely caught glimpses as I rode previous. Gauley Bridge additionally ran proper alongside the highway however was a bit lackluster after viewing the New River Gorge Bridge.

Be taught extra about Logan County, West Virginia, and the Hatfield-McCoy Area right here.

An Unlikely Driving Associate

It was getting late within the day, and I nonetheless needed to go to Lewisburg. I left Gauley Bridge and headed out, feeling some nervousness about making it again to my campsite earlier than dusk. I used to be not wanting ahead to traversing mountainous roadways after darkish, however I pressed on nonetheless.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Kanawha Falls Midland Trail Gauley Bridge
Kanawha Falls, the most important waterfall in West Virginia, roars alongside the Midland Path close to Gauley Bridge.

One other rider on a big journey bike, loaded down with arduous instances, turned onto Route 60 behind me. It was enjoyable to trip “collectively” for the remainder of the way in which to Lewisburg. I zipped round curves by way of beautiful surroundings with this unknown bike tourer. After I pulled right into a parking spot simply inside Lewisburg’s downtown strip, he gave me a wave over his shoulder as he handed. There’s nothing just like the camaraderie of a fellow rider, particularly after they’re additionally clearly on their very own distinctive journey.

See all of Rider‘s Southeast U.S. touring tales right here.

The Surprising Present

After consuming an overpriced (however nonetheless scrumptious) plate of lasagna at The Humble Tomato, an upscale-but-casual Italian restaurant proper on the strip, I made a decision to stroll downtown for a bit earlier than heading again. I finished within the Lewisburg Welcome Middle to see if that they had any worthy souvenirs and was greeted by a pleasant older man. He was shocked, as many individuals are, to discover a younger girl on a solo bike journey, and he had loads of questions. After I bought just a few stickers, he started fumbling across the money register and counter, mumbling that he had one thing particular for me.

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Lewisburg
The quaint strip of downtown retailers and eating places alongside the principle highway in Lewisburg.

After just a few awkward minutes, he lastly discovered what he was searching for – a Route 39 pin and coin – and handed them over proudly. “I give these to all of the Harley guys,” he stated with a chuckle. I pocketed the trinkets, a bit embarrassed as I hadn’t truly ridden Route 39 on my journey however thanked him nonetheless. Then I saddled up and headed again to my campsite at Babcock State Park.

A Distinctive Mix of Surroundings

Having been distracted earlier by my journey rider buddy on the way in which to Lewisburg, I had zipped previous the great thing about the countryside alongside that part of the Midland Path. On my return trip, it was the magical “golden hour,” and the surroundings was lit with a heat glow. It was like a captivating mix of surroundings again dwelling – the inexperienced rolling hills of jap Kentucky rural farmland punctuated with the mountainous terrain and sharp corners of the Nice Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Driving on the light slopes and curves of hills as inexperienced as a jewel, I might see Appalachian ridges seemingly on all sides. Peaks would loom straight forward within the distance, rising nearer and nearer till I used to be on them, climbing switchbacks, solely to descend minutes later after which do it once more. It was a dream trip.

Get a free Southern West Virginia Motorbike Experience Information right here.

Returning House from My West Virginia Motorbike Journey

After a pleasing evening at my campsite sitting by a roaring fireplace, I awakened and started grudgingly getting ready for my return dwelling. There was a lot I didn’t get an opportunity to see.

I hopped on the freeway for a faster return journey, and whereas I wasn’t planning on stopping in Charleston, the view of the 23-karat gold-leaf gilded high of the Capitol, with a dome 5 ft larger than the U.S. Capitol, lured me in.

My final cease was the Griffith & Feil Drug and Soda Fountain in Kenova, West Virginia, actually the final exit earlier than the Kentucky border. I loved the intense and colourful neon lights inside and ordered a root beer float – the very best I’ve ever had, with unbelievably creamy vanilla ice cream and fizzy, sweet-and-spicy soda. 

West Virginia Motorcycle trip Kenova Griffith and Feil Drug and Soda Fountain
I loved a root beer float in Kenova at a soda fountain harking back to the previous.

Plans for the Future

Whereas returning my pockets to my bike jacket after paying for my deal with, my fingers brushed towards a metallic object – the Route 39 coin the sort man in Lewisburg had given me the day earlier than. Not solely had I survived the journey I had been nervous about taking within the first place, I had additionally confirmed myself to be a succesful bike camper and tourer. Pleased with my accomplishments, I pocketed the metallic coin, pondering to myself, “I’ll come again to trip this mysterious Route 39.” 

West Virginia Motorcycle trip state capitol Charleston
The West Virginia Capitol in Charleston is a sight to see with its gilded high.

I gathered up my issues, excited on the prospect of arriving dwelling after a profitable solo journey. I used to be additionally wanting ahead to planning my subsequent journey to West Virginia, impressed by a easy reward from a stranger – one thing I wouldn’t have acquired had I not taken that leap and simply rode.