North Bend Rail Trail Bike Camping Recap

9 cyclists (Roger, Cory, John, Steve, Carey, Jess, Brett, Tim, Ray]
140+ miles
Fully loaded bikes with camping gear for a bike overnighter
10 tunnels, temps were consistently in the 50's in the tunnels providing a respite from the heat.
Temps peaked over 100 in the sun (GPS said 122 max), averaged 90's during the day, 70's overnight.
Animal sightings: Turtles, gars, turkeys, pea hens, deer, salamander, snake, horses, other small rodents

North Bend Rail Trail
Start: Parkersburg, WV
We passed through Walker, Petroleum, Cairo, Cornwallis, Ellenboro, Pennsboro, Toll Gate, Greenwood, Central Station, West Union, Smithburg and Industrial.
Camping: Salem, WV
Returned to Parkersburg on Sunday

Ride report: Most of the towns along the trail consist of clustered homes with no services. Cairo is home to the Country Trails Bikes/The Cairo Supply Co. which is a grocery, supply and bike shop about 22 miles from the start. It sits right on the trail and was a welcome stop and shade during the ride in both directions. During the heat of the day on Saturday we stopped for ice cream in Pennsboro. Ellenboro has a McDonald's/convenience store we used as a rest stop on Sunday. The tunnels were great for cooling off on both days since the temps were in the 50's inside the tunnel. On Saturday we passed a wagon train headed for a picnic and we watched their lights fade into the tunnel fog before we passed them again on the other side.

Salem, WV was our end point for the ride. When we arrived in town we were dusty, hot and tired and found the only pool to be closed indefinitely. Roger approached the IGA manager about using the hose to wash off. What a sight we were- 9 half dressed cyclists standing in the parking lot of the store taking a cold and refreshing shower. After cleaning up we headed to setup camp. The campsite was east of town and was next to the sewage plant outflow which provided a constant water sound to cover the Rt 50 traffic noise, at least for most of the time. The pit toilet was rough and there was a shelter where we stored food and water. 

We headed back into Salem in search of dinner and drink. Sadly most of the local restaurants in town are closed except for a DQ and Domino's Pizza. We picked up pizzas and drinks from IGA and ate at the Salem Depot. The DQ is a convenient stop for a clean rest room. After dinner and a beer we headed back to camp with our water for morning.

On Sunday we headed to Cottage Corner Too for breakfast. The restaurant is east of Salem on County Road 50/20a as you head out of town. Half the group headed up to get breakfast and found the restaurant didn't open until 7am. Again Roger saved the day by asking if they would open early and by the time the rest of the group made it to the restaurant we were able to order right away. Great cheap food and nice people.

Since I am originally from WV I know that most people from the state are friendly. Everybody we experienced on this trip were super friendly and people were very helpful when we were stuck.

Trail conditions: The trail condition worsens as you head from west to east. Trail conditions for the first section to Cairo is fairly consistent double track. The middle section is a mix of loose pea gravel, larger ballast and grassy surfaces. The eastern section is a mix of overgrown double track and mowed grassy sections with no discernible trail. As you head into Salem the trail becomes single track. We ran into at least two sections of the trail torn up by fracking. West Union had a paved trail through town which was a nice change from the ever changing trail conditions. On Sunday we bypassed some of the grassy sections by sticking to parallel roads saving some energy and sanity.

Photos from the adventure


  1. Wish we had known you were coming through and maybe could have provided you with some refreshments & a clean bathroom break at the church along the trail in Smithburg. Did you know that the North Bend Rail Trail is part of the Atlantic to Pacific trail called the American Discovery Trail? Sorry we missed getting to meet you! Sharon and Paul...WV state coordinators...ADT.

  2. Sharon and Paul,

    If/when we ride the trail again we will let you know. I didn't know that the trail is part of the ADT. Thanks for the offer!

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  4. Can you post your contact information so that other cyclists will know they can see refuge in Smithburg?

  5. My little family of 3 is planing to bike the trail this upcoming weekend, starting tomorrow in Woolf Summit and going probably as far as Petroleum and back. Can any of you tell me a little bit more about campsite in Petroleum? Or any other around it? Thanks, Kamila.


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