The 2013 motorcycle travel season started off with a return to Pocahontas County, West Virginia. As much as I loved my visit in 2012, it was even better this year.
With over 1,200 miles of pristine asphalt for motorcycle riders, you need a few trips there to do them justice and see all there is to see. Suffice to say that no matter which road you choose, you’ll be delighted. Pavement is in excellent condition, the scenery is wonderful, and the people are extremely welcoming.
- The Highland Scenic Highway cuts through 43 miles of the Monongahela National Forest. The elevation rises from 2,325 feet to over 4,500 feet and four scenic overlooks provide stunning views.
- Marlinton, WV, is the County Seat with a population of 800. It has the only two stoplights in Pocahontas County. There are no big box stores and no national chains; accommodations are all mom and pop establishments who roll out the welcome mat for riders. Make sure to check out The Dirt Bean and Rayetta’s Lunch Box.
- Green Bank Telescope. This radio telescope blew me away. It’s the world’s largest steerable telescope, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and it’s open to the public for tours. Weighing 16.725 million pounds, it can move 360 degrees in less than nine minutes and can do a full elevation swing in four minutes. The 2.3-acre parabola reflects signals originating 14 billion light years away to the receiver, which then translates the data.
- Mountain Quest Inn. When you want to escape from it all, this Garden of Eden-like place is your spot. Hosts Drs. Alex and David Bennett also operate it as a conference and retreat center. To stay here is refreshing, rejuvenating, and recharging— and that’s before you ride anywhere!
- Cass, WV. A thriving railway town when the lumber industry was king, it’s now rich in the history of an era gone by. Walk the town, ride the Cass Scenic Railway, or stay in one of the carefully restored white clapboard cottages, once home to railway workers.
- Sharp’s Country Store. Plan to spend some time here to soak up the history, especially if owner Tom Shipley is in. He traces his family history back to his eighth great granddad, William Sharp, who built the first house in nearby Huntersville in the 1760s. When people come into the store, there will usually be two or three older gentlemen sitting around the counter, talking about life, and solving the world’s problems, just like they’ve been doing since 1884. Everyone is welcome to join in the conversation.
- Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway, also known as Route 39, it stretches 139 miles from Lexington, VA, to Summersville, WV. Centrally located along its length, the area around Marlinton makes an ideal staging point from which to venture out in any direction. The pull-off at Goshen Pass, four miles east of Goshen, begs a stop. Overlooking the Maury River Gorge, the river here has some of the most popular whitewater in Virginia.
- Dunmore Bakery. Gasoline, fast food, sandwiches, and freshly baked goods are available at this delightful spot at the intersection of Highways 92 and 28, run by Kevin and Amanda Fraser.
- The Old Clark Inn and The Locust Hill B&B and Cabin. Located right in the town of Marlinton, these two bed and breakfasts cater to riders with that extra bit of attention. Lots of friendships are formed and tales told on their front porches.
- Elk River Inn & Restaurant. Known for its gourmet menu, you can eat on the large deck, enjoy the view through large windows, or relax at the pub-style bar. Live local music completes a wonderful dining experience.
There’s a lot about Pocahontas County that makes it ideal for riders. The nearest interstate is forty miles away and access from any direction is via some of the finest motorcycle roads in the country. This means not only is there less traffic, but you won’t get caught plugging along behind long lines of RVs.
Text by Liz Jansen
Photography by Presidio Studios, Lewisburg, WV.
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