West Virginia Mountains and Telescopes

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Durbin, West Virginia
Date Published:
March 27, 2021
Gravel Ratio:
70% G / 25% P / 5% ST
Difficulty Rating:
Enjoyability Rating:
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This route is brought to you by Kymberly Byers, a self proclaimed “vagabond bikepacker” whose passion is to ride the back roads to the roads less traveled. Photo Credits: Kymberly Byers


The views due to the elevation change are spectacular.

County Route 3 is actually an unimproved section of the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike (since 1835). It super cool to travel on this historic route!

The Radio Telescopes of the Green Bank Observatory are quite a sight and certainly worth a tour detour especially if you're a science geek.

The Suspension Bridge that you'll encounter on the route is picture worthy and fun to bike.

Travelers Repose, a historic Inn located in Bartow is a unique and historically interesting place.


The climb up from Bartow is a steady 8-12% grade with a few steeper sections for a total of about 2,000 feet of climbing, or half the total elevation gain for the day.

There is zero cell phone service because of the radio observatory, so you are totally on your own. (I personally use a Spot Gen 3 Satellite Tracker as my back up but you will have to turn off all your electronics near the telescopes.)

Do this ride if you want challenging climbs with spectacular views mixed with history and science in a scenic location in the heart of West Virginia.

Other Notes:

This is a rural route with no resupply/bathrooms after mile three.

On route, the only water available is streams and rivers, so bring enough hydration or pack a water filter.

The majority of this route is gravel with a little bit of pavement between the bike trail and forest service road 244, and pavement after Lindy Point. Don't get mislead to think it will be easy with about 30% pavement. The other 70% is relatively tough gravel miles.

There is a resupply place called Trents General store at about mile 18 in the town Arbovale, but is a little bit off route. (I did not check this out.)

Access to the telescope grounds on my route is through a gap in the fence at the elementary school because I was actually scouting a larger bikepacking route that will approach this area from the south. When you reach the Observatory, just up the road from the school, you can ride on to the observatory campus, just turn your electronics off. (I put my phone on airplane mode much earlier in the day and left Garmin on the entire ride)

The starting location/parking is in front of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, a working museum of historic railroad equipment.

Driving Directions

Route Contributor

Guest: Kymberly Byers

Kymberly Byers is a self proclaimed “vagabond bikepacker” whose passion is to ride the back roads to the road less traveled.

Her current mailing address is in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but she gets around quite a bit and who knows where she’ll land next!

Kymberly began bikepacking in 2017 and has been doing multiple trips a year since. In 2020, She bikepacked 100 consecutive days from Fort Wayne Indiana to the Headwaters of the Mississippi to the Badlands, Black Hills, Devils Tower, over the Bighorn mountains, to Yellowstone, made a lap around the Tetons and many points beyond. She also completed smaller trips along the Gulf coast, Texas, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and more- 26 states in 2020 alone!

You can learn more about Kymberly and her 2020 bikpacking trip on the Girls Gone Gravel Podcast:  https://soundcloud.com/girlsgonegravel/rebroadcast-strangers-self-worth-with-kymberly-byers-episode-25

“Basically, I just want to ride and experience the vast beauty of our earth. If I can share my experiences, then all the better.”

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