Destination Durbin

By ,

March 29, 2024


Once a booming railroad town, Durbin, WV, is on its way to become Pocahontas County's next hit recreation destination. With hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, kayaking, and more, Durbin has a little piece of paradise for all manner of outdoor enthusiast!

Historic Train Departing Durbin

Departing from Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Historic Train Rides Make Durbin a Destination from a Different Time

It’s hard not to catch a particular strain of high-energy enthusiasm sitting across from Nicolle Flood-Sawczyszyn, the Mon Forest Towns representative for the Town of Durbin. After assembling an impromptu town social media committee in the Station 2 Restaurant & Motel, she leaned over the table to say, “I hope you’re ready for Durbin to blow up,” pantomiming an explosion with her hands, “This town has so much going for it; we just need to let the world know.” Over the course of that afternoon, we met with business owners, a local historian, and town council members who all made one thing clear – Durbin is ready to become Pocahontas County’s next big outdoor recreation destination.

Railroad Trestle on Durbin's West Fork Rail Trail

The West Fork Rail Trail, with a Southern Trailhead in Durbin, is perfect for Fishing, Biking, Hiking, and Camping

In many ways, the “Basecamp of the Mon” is already a nexus of recreation in the region. The town, situated near the geographic center of the Monongahela National Forest at the headwaters of the Greenbrier River and hugged on either side by the rising mountains, features direct access to the 22-mile West Fork Rail Trail and West Virginia’s longest hiking route, the 311-mile Allegheny Trail. For Nicolle, who is also a member of the volunteer-led West Virginia Scenic Trails Association (WVSTA), the Allegheny Trail is a crucial resource for Durbin and our Mon Forest Towns as a whole.

“This town has so much going for it; we just need to let the world know.”


WVSTA Meets in Nicholas County to Discuss Plans for the Allegheny Trail and Making Durbin a Top Hiking Destination

West Virginia Scenic Trails Association (WVSTA) Meets to Discuss the Allegheny Trail and Plans to Make Durbin a Premier Hiking Destination

Running up the spine of the mountain range that gives the trail its name, the Allegheny runs through five Mon Forest Towns, with a spur onto the 24-mile Allegheny Highlands Trail connecting two more – forming a tangible connection between communities and establishing an outline for a future region-wide Mon  Forest Towns trail system. As WVSTA prepares to host its 50th-anniversary celebration this year in Greenbank, just a few minutes outside Durbin, Nicolle is eager to catch the eye of America’s growing backpacking scene and catapult the Allegheny and the towns it crosses into the limelight. With a full-length documentary film in the works, a new podcast following the trail’s development, and collaboration with big-name artists on Mon-inspired murals, WVSTA aspires to raise towns like Durbin to the national recreation stage, leveraging their relative remoteness into an asset for those seeking the chance to step away from the everyday routine.

Allegheny Trail Infographic with State Parks and Forests

However, Durbin’s outdoor activities aren’t limited to backpackers. A fifteen-minute drive in any direction provides visitors with the chance to explore an assortment of daily activities, from kayaking on the Greenbrier River to fishing at the regularly stocked Lake Buffalo and Shavers Fork. History buffs can chart the course of the First Campaign of the American Civil War at Cheat Summit Fort, Camp Bartow, and Camp Allegheny, while the scientifically inclined can peer into space at the neighboring Greenbank Observatory. The short trails at Gaudineer Knob Scenic Area offer families beautiful views, charming picnic spots, and a deep dive into one of West Virginia’s last Old Growth forests without leaving the little ones too tired to make it back to the car. Meanwhile, the more adventurous can take on one of the Mon’s steepest hikes at Smoke Camp or venture up to Mower Basin, where the Forest Service is hard at work connecting the restored mine land to Lower Pocahontas’ extensive network of trails. The Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative has unveiled a new Historic Durbin Walking Tour that dives deep into the Durbin’s amazing story for anyone wanting a more relaxed walk within town.

Mountains at Mower Basin

View of Mower Basin Trail System from Scenic Overlook

To make the most of Durbin’s outdoor recreation catalog, the town has recently joined the WV Community Development Hub’s DARRE program and is drafting a comprehensive plan to map Durbin’s route to revitalization. Mayor John Osborne remarked at a town council meeting, We’re all on board; we’re ready to make this happen. During the 20th Century’s railroad boom, Durbin was home to a dozen hotels and restaurants- now, a hundred years later, the stage is set for the town’s return to glory. With architectural assessments underway in 2024, soft-cost business support, and assistance from the WVU Sustainable Development Law Clinic, the town hopes to lay a solid foundation for an economic revival and is encouraging entrepreneurs to get in on the ground floor.

We’re all on board; we’re ready to make this happen.


One such entrepreneur is Jonathan Kyle, part of Let’s Get Outside LLC and the new owner of Durbin’s East Fork Campground & Horse Hotel. In a press release, the Kyle family stated, “2024 is not only a new year for the East Fork Campground & Horse Hotel but a great opportunity for the new owners and operators to showcase the beauty of Durbin, West Virginia.. [we are] excited to share this piece of Mountain State heaven with our guests and look forward to making incredible memories for many years to come.

While each of our Mon Forest Towns are united by their relationship to the Monongahela National Forest, each offers something wholly unique. Surrounded by the forest and deep in the Radio Quiet Zone, the absence of big-city conveniences in Durbin creates the exact environment so many now crave – a place disconnected from the constant pings of texts, where bright lights are replaced by unbelievably starry skies. As the faint aroma of woodsmoke hangs in the air and a steam locomotive hums in the distance, you might think for a moment that with a destination like Durbin, time travel is just a day’s drive away.

Photo of Dark Night Sky with Stars in the Mon

Night Skies Outside of Durbin, WV