Explore an ancient wonderland of towering rocks at Beartown
Beartown State Park’s boardwalk is a cool retreat in summer’s heat
You’d never know it just driving by, but tucked into the forest on the border of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties lies one of West Virginia’s most amazing natural wonders.
At 110 acres, Beartown State Park is a modest-sized state park, but it packs a mighty big punch when it comes to scenery and geology. Follow the path from the parking lot into the cool tunnel of trees. From there, a boardwalk winds through a maze of rocky formations, massive boulders, overhanging cliffs and deep crevices formed hundreds of millions of years ago. It’s an awe-inspiring sight.
“You feel like a dinosaur may be around each corner. A different world! Very relaxing and cool to be there. The holes in the rocks are fascinating.”— JFleshSiloam, TripAdvisor Reviewer
The land now known as Beartown State Park was purchased in 1970 with funds from the Nature Conservancy and a donation from Edwin G. Polan in memory of her son, Ronald Keith Neal, a local soldier who died in Vietnam.
The park’s name comes from residents who claimed the many cave-like openings in the rocks made ideal winter dens for black bears native to the area. It also refers to the many deep, narrow crevices that crisscross the area that from a bird’s eye view resemble the streets of a small town.
“We visited here on a beautiful spring day. We researched this place because we have a special needs daughter who gets nervous on regular and rough trails. This park consists of a boardwalk built around the unusual rock formations. It is easy to navigate and walk along. The plaques throughout the walkway are informative and interesting. It was a beautiful walk and it was enjoyed by all of us—adults, teens, and youngsters alike. Apparently the land was donated by a woman in memory of her son she lost in the Vietnam War. What a wonderful way to remember him.”— pdhiggins7, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Walker Valley, New York
Interpretive signs line the half-mile walkway, detailing the geological processes at work in the area. The towering formations of Droop sandstone that make up Beartown were formed during the Pennsylvanian Age some 300 million years ago. The moss-covered sandstone is dotted with hundreds of circular pits or cavities caused by erosion.
The solitude and remoteness of the area lends an air of otherworldliness to the place. Were it not for the manmade boardwalk, you might feel like you’ve stepped out of a time machine into an era millions of years before humans walked the earth.
“This is such a great little park tucked away off the beaten path. We brought our dogs along and they managed well. The rocks make everything much cooler which is great on a hot summer day. Our 2 young boys enjoyed this walk as there was always something neat to see. We combined this with a trip to Droop Mountain Battlefield to make it a full day trip out.”— creeksidehorses, TripAdvisor Reviewer
While visiting Beartown, you won’t want to pass up Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park just a short drive down the road. Part of the 16-state Civil War Discovery Trail, the park has an onsite museum and signage dedicated to the Civil War battle that was fought there in 1863. Amenities include a picnic area, hiking trails and an observation tower with a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
The 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail is a favorite destination for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Pack your fishing gear and stop to cast a line in the rippling waters of the Greenbrier River that runs alongside the scenic trail. A West Virginia fishing license is required and can be purchased at www.wvfish.com.
Overnight accommodations can be found nearby at Watoga State Park, which has two campgrounds and three types of cabins, including the historic CCC legacy cabins. The park offers a range of recreational opportunities, including boating, hiking and fishing.
West Virginia State Parks have it all, from spectacular scenery to top-notch outdoor recreation to fascinating historic connections. Visit Beartown State Park and discover why West Virginia is Almost Heaven.
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