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For a backpacker in search of wilderness, the city that serves as the jumping-off point to a week spent on the trails is little more than a place to pick up last minute supplies, pack and get one last full night’s sleep. Not Lewisburg, West Virginia, which is a destination unto itself. Honestly, sitting in The Asylum looking over the novel that is their beer selection, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to head into the woods the next morning at all!
For me, Lewisburg was the gateway into the mountains and forests to the north. But the quaint, “Coolest Small Town in America,” as they like to call themselves, is a launchpad for adventure-seekers headed in all directions. Greenbrier State Forest, just minutes east of downtown is packed with hiking and biking trails, and Calvin Price State Forest and 10,000-acre Watoga State Park abut the Virginia border to the northeast. But the reason I was here was the gigantic Monongahela National Forest, encapsulating a sizable portion of the Allegheny Mountains and running nearly to Maryland in the north. For anyone headed into the Monongahela, Lewisburg is the last big vestige of civilization on the south side, which made it a great place to eat up and get ready for the week ahead.
Along with The Asylum, which has a full menu of pub food to match its impressive bar selection, Thunderbird Taco came well recommended by the locals I surveyed. It was also my first glimpse of a seemingly out of place, but delicious regional taste for Mexican fares.
Walking around, it wasn’t hard to imagine what the colorful and historic downtown district would look like on a warm summer evening, rather than the damp spring day when I was there. Shops and boutiques like Serenity Now Outfitters had me jumping from one door to the next, not wanting to miss a thing.
On the practical side, Lewisburg has everything to set it up as a backpacker’s pre-trip hub, including a collection of hotels and supercenters for picking up the last-minute necessities that I couldn’t fly here with—things like fuel for my camp stove and backpacking eats. So even with lots more of the Lewisburg nightlife to explore, with my backpack loaded up, I was itching to head north to the mountains.
Learn more about wild, wonderful West Virginia here