A Visit to West Virginia’s Beartown State Park

Beartown State Park is located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Photos by David Taylor.

By David Taylor

One our swing through southern West Virginia we happened across the amazing rock formations and walking trails at Beartown State Park.

Made of one large rock formation that splits into sections and clefts large enough for walkways, Beartown State Park is noted for its massive boulders, overhanging cliffs and unusual rock formations. Compromised of Pottsville Sandstone, formed during the Pennsylvanian Age, faulting and erosion capped the mountain and left ‘sunken streets’ in a ‘town of rocks.’ Huge rock formations, deep caves and dark corners invite the imagination to speculate if bears really do inhabit the vicinity.

Beartown State Park is a 110-acre (45 ha) state park located on the eastern summit of Droop Mountain, 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Hillsboro, West Virginia, in northern Greenbrier County, West Virginia (with a small portion of the park also located in Pocahontas County). The land was purchased in 1970 with funds from the Nature Conservancy and a donation from Mrs. Edwin G. Polan, in memory of her son, Ronald Keith Neal, a local soldier who was killed in the Vietnam War.

These walkways are great to explore on with great views of nature.
Accessibility for the disabled was assessed by West Virginia University. The 2005 assessment found issues with the slipperiness of the boardwalk ramps and signage in the parking lot.

According to Wikipedia, the name “Beartown State Park” was chosen because local residents claimed that many cave-like openings in the rocks made ideal winter dens for the native black bears, the state animal of West Virginia. Also because the many deep, narrow crevasses were formed in a regular criss-cross pattern which appear from above like the streets of a small town. Beartown is noted for its unusual rock formations, which consist of Droop, or Pottsville, Sandstone formed during the Pennsylvanian age. Massive boulders, overhanging cliffs and deep crevasses make up the beauty of the park. On the face of the cliffs are hundreds of eroded pits. These pits range from the size of a marble to others large enough to hold two grown men. It is not unusual to see ice and snow remaining in the deeper crevasses until midsummer.

The park is open daily from April to October. Access during the off-season is available by appointment. No fee is charged for admission to the park.

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