Rail Trails for Fall Fun

by Virginia Blog | Posted: Sep 17, 2015 | Updated: Aug 25, 2016

Comments: 4 Comments

From the rough and tumble on the mountains to the paved or sandy shores, there’s no end to the scenic views and adventures Virginia has to offer.

For a chance to really enjoy Virginia in the fall season, make sure to check out some of the favorite trails in the state. Bikers and hikers can’t seem to get enough of all that Virginia has to offer. It really is like no other state in the nation. Take a trip along the James River or follow history all the way up to the Nation’s capital. There’s no stopping the excitement this fall.

 

DICK & WILLIE PASSAGE RAIL TRAIL – Martinsville, VA

Dick & Willie Passage Trail

Dick & Willie Passage Trail

Running for 4.5 beautiful miles through Martinsville and Henry County is the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail. Beginning at Virginia Avenue, the trail can be accessed at the beginning, Liberty St, Doyle St, or Fisher St. Meandering through a scenic wonderland and part of Virginia history, this trail is a favorite not only of bikers and hikers, but of history fanatics as well. Learn about its significance with the signs along the trail or take a break from the world through the trees and wildlife surrounding the former Danville and Western Railroad. This paved trail is also perfect for walking, running, and rollerblading.

Dining:

  • Pigs R Us / Checkered Pig – 4.5 stars – Liberty Street, Martinsville – 0.7 miles from trail
    “Great BBQ, Great Portions” –selmonr
    Easily described as out of this world! Virginia barbeque at its finest with returning customers from off the trail and locals alike. A great place to stop in off the trail and taste some hardy meals.
  • Hugo’s – 4.5 stars – East Church Street, Martinsville – 0.9 miles from trail
    “The best bar and grill in town!!” – Betsy B.
    This local favorite restaurant is a great place close to the trial with many different options all sure to please all the friends. Check in with the locals and try out the bar or some of the best wings around.

Lodging:

  • Hampton Inn – 4.5 stars – Hampton Drive, Martinsville – 1.9 miles from trail
    “Family Friendly Hotel” –Debra S.
    At the Hampton Inn in Martinsville you’re treated as a friend and will find great rooms really close to the trial. It’s a great place to stop in for a night and relax.
  • Comfort Inn Martinsville – 4 stars – Virginia Ave, Martinsville – 1.9 miles from trail
    “Nice hotel and good service”
    This comfort Inn provides just the comfort you need after a long day on the trail. Take a break with new friends and be met with a wonderful breakfast in the morning.

 

JAMES RIVER HERITAGE TRAIL – Amherst, VA

Accessible from Percival’s Island Natural Area is found the James River Heritage Trail, a paved hiking and biking trail. As a formerly abandoned railroad bed, this trail is where the beauty and history of the state come together. The trail follows Lynchburg’s Blackwater Creek Trail and crosses onto Percival’s Isle. Later crossing the James River and entering Amherst County, the trail continues along the river for a beautiful scenic walk or bike ride along the river. With multiple easy access points along the trail, these 9.5 miles is known as one of the favorite urban trails in Virginia.

Dining:

  • Isabella’s Italian Trattoria – 4.5 stars – Boonsboro Rd, Lynchburg – 5.3 miles from trail
    “This place deserves its #1 spot” –Susan D.
    With award deserving staff and dishes, Isabella’s is a great spot for a beautifully prepared meal after a beautiful day walking through Virginia. Take a break and enjoy a tasty meal.
  • Mister Goodies – 5 stars – Timberlake Rd, Lynchburg – 14.2 miles from trail
    “They deserve more than five stars!!!” –Luke S.
    This great little place is full of all the sweets and treats you could dream of. A nice spot with affordable snacks. Stop in this local favorite for a tasty dessert you can’t miss while you’re here.

Lodging:

  • Kirkley Hotel – 4 stars – Candlers Mountain Rd, Lynchburg – 5 miles from trail
    “Reasonably priced hotel with luxury touches” –trvlwannab
    This is a comfortable stop at a great price for the rest you need after a long trip along the Heritage Trail. Stop by for a pleasant staff and even better night’s sleep.
  • Amherst Inn – 4 stars – Richmond Highway, Amherst – 18 miles from trail
    “You will NOT be disappointed.” –LH R
    This is a convenient stop while passing through Amherst. Guests call this a nice surprise in a quiet place. Stay for a night and relax.

 

NEW RIVER TRAIL STATE PARK – Foster Falls, VA

New River Trail State Park

New River Trail State Park

A premier rail-trail of the nation is found in Southern Virginia as the New River Trail State Park. This National Recreation Trail runs through Grayson, Carroll, Wythe, and Pulaski counties and follows the New River for nearly 39 miles. Find the old red caboose at the Galax trailhead and follow Chestnut Creek for a while. Rugged paths meet carved trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and biking. Boating is even invited along the trail side. With different options of ways to walk the trail, look for railroading highlights, tunnels, trestle bridges, and the historic Shot Tower.

Dining:

  • Key Ingredients Restaurant – 4.5 stars – Fort Chiswell Mansion – 6.2 miles from trail
    “A delicious surprise” –Jane B.
    This stop is the great place to incorporate the history of Virginia in with your visit. With a beautiful view only made better with the great dishes, this is the stop to make.
  • Judy’s Family Diner – 4 stars – East Lee Hwy – 6.7 miles from trail
    “Tasty and hot home cooked meal” –kdar52
    Looking for a quick and comfortable stop much better than any fast food? We’ve found it. This is a great place to stop a little off the trail that provides the hot, home cooking you need after the trail.

Lodging:

  • Comfort Inn – 4.5 stars – exit 80 off I81 – 2.6 miles from trail
    “A really nice hotel” –vlayne
    Family and pet friendly, this Comfort Inn is ideal for a rest near the New River State Park. Stop in for a night or two and explore more of the beauty this Virginia Park and town has to offer.
  • Hampton Inn – 4 stars – Fort Chiswell Road, Max Meadows – 6.3 miles from trail
    “Nice Find” –Admin77
    One of the best places to stay near the park is the Hampton that is recommended by visitors and locals alike. When you need a rest stop, this is the place to find a pillow and great eats nearby.

 

WASHINGTON & OLD DOMINION REGIONAL PARK – Ashburn, VA

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

One of the most popular trails in the state is the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park where you can find a passage from Virginia’s rural past to the life of the nation’s capital. With roots in the railroad that dates back to the Civil War, this is the perfect escape with no way to get lost as it is excellently marked and a past time of many bikers and hikers. This trail passes through the urban side of the state and later incorporates other trails that break off. Don’t miss out on the many historic and beautiful towns found along the trail way. With many options to take a break and start back up again it is the trail with everything.

Dining:

  • Blue Ridge Grill – 4.5 stars – Brambleton, Ashburn – 6.8 miles from park
    “Good local food.” –Evelyn Z.
    With management that treats you like family and great new dishes to try, this local eatery is a must stop while in the area. Blue Ridge Grill is full of salads, ribs, oysters, and more to fill and please.
  • Sweetwater Tavern – 4.5 stars – Waterview Plz, Sterling – 4.7 miles from park
    “Excellent!” –hineconsult
    This stop is a beloved place of travelers to stop in a grab a bite of everything because it’s just that good. From tasty meals to the beautiful Park nearby, there’s no missing this stop.

Lodging:

  • Holiday Inn Express – 4.5 stars – Elden St, Herndon – 5 miles from park
    “Visiting DC great place to stay” –Phil A.
    This is the Holiday Inn you know, love, and trust. What makes it better is how much there is to do around here. A great location with great people.
  • Lansdowne Resort – 4 stars – Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg – 9.4 miles from park
    “Beautiful resort” –Karastar
    In need of a vacation after your long and beautiful walk? Lansdown offers the best relaxation surrounded by more of the beautiful scenic Virginia.

 

VIRGINIA CAPITAL TRAIL – Richmond to Williamsburg

Virginia Capital Bike Trail: Shiplock Park

Virginia Capital Bike Trail: Shiplock Park

The Virginia Capital Trail is a favorite for locals and people traveling from all over the country. We invite you to travel back in time and then back to modern day. This trail passes through the first settlement in Jamestown, the Capital in Colonial Williamsburg, and Virginia’s modern government in Richmond. With many different entrance points, break the trail down into short lengths for a trip with the family to learn about the homes of Presidents. Or challenge yourself with the full trail and take in the refreshing Canal Walk near the James River. With many opportunities to start and take a break, this trail is the best way to take in all the many sides of Virginia.

Dining:

  • The Boathouse – 3.5 stars – E Old Main St, Richmond – 1 mile from trail
    “I LOVE the location of this restaurant.” Katie B.
    A great view of the James River is met with the beautiful Richmond skyline. Here you’ll find great seafood and enough room to bring everyone from the trail.
  • Cul’s Courthouse Grill – 4 stars – Courthouse Rd, Charles City – 0.5 miles from trail
    “The hospitality we experienced here was second to none!” Shonna S.
    You can’t get any closer to the trail than this. Found right across the street from parking for an access point on the trail, here you’ll find a hearty dish and friendly staff.

Lodging:

  • Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown – 3.5 stars – E Canal St – 1.4 miles from trail
    “Can’t wait to go back and make this my home away from home in RIC!” Alexis S.
    Crowne Plaza is here to provide you with the best night sleep after a long day on the trail. Known for its customer service and up-scale lodging, you’ll feel just like a gold medalist!
  • Chickahominy Riverfront Park – 5 stars – John Tyler Hwy – 1 mile from trail
    “I use this place as a starting point for the Capital to Capital bike trail.” George J.
    This great little park is perfect to stretch and relax. It also offers an area to camp out. So if you just can’t stand leaving the great outdoors, this is the place to stay directly off the trail.

 

VIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL – Abingdon to Whitetop

Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA

Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA

The Virginia Creeper Trail is 34.3 miles packed full of the beauty and serenity Virginia has tucked away. Named after the steam engine that used to run here, this trail dates back to 1986 when the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy decided this was a trail that must be shared. Access to the trail can be found at 11 different points shared by bikers and hikers alike. Another this trail finds itself on the favorite list is the levelness of the trails. No worrying about making it over that next hill, this is the relaxing stroll or ride you’ve been looking for. Great for family or friend filled trips along ponds and through groves.

Dining:

  • Creeper Trail Café – 3.5 stars – Chestnut Mountain Rd, Damascus – 0.1 miles from trail
    “If you’re coming down…I suggest you stop here and get some food to relax and replenish.” Bryson M.
    Can’t miss out on the Creeper Trail Café! With reasonable prices and the best kind of location, all your needs are met right here.
  • Mojo’s Trailside Coffeehouse – 4 stars – Douglas Drive, Damascus – 5 miles from trail
    “This is a great little place to hit up, especially right before you hit the creeper trail!” Alex K.
    Looking for a little pick-me-up for the rest of your ride? Here at Mojoe’s is where you’ll find great coffee, fruit smoothies, and more. Remember to take a peek at the local art around while you’re resting.

Lodging:

  • Laurel Creek RV Park – 5 stars – Orchard Hill Rd, Damascus – 0.1 miles from trail
    “This park is exactly what I was looking for.” L.D.
    Another excuse to stay on the trail is easy to find right here. Check out Laurel Creek RV Park where you’ll find picnic tables and level ground perfect for an overnight stay.

 

TOBACCO HERITAGE TRAIL – Five Southern Virginia Counties

Tobacco Heritage Trail

Tobacco Heritage Trail

The history of our beautiful state is found in the history of it on the Tobacco Heritage Trail. Here you’ll find miles of forests, tobacco farms, and small towns. This trail runs through the counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Halifax, Mecklenburg, and even Lunenburg. With nearly 174 miles of trail and many different points of entry, you’ll make a new favorite past time out of Virginia’s trails. There’s no better way to learn about history than being in the scenic beauty of it. This trail uses abandoned rail beds, roadways, and bridges to create an impressive new look at the rural, historic, and forever stunning aspects of Virginia.

Dining:

  • Bistro 1888 – 4 stars – Main St, South Boston – 0.4 miles from trail
    “The seafood dishes were absolutely fresh, impeccably prepared, and quite delicious.” Chris M.
    A wonderfully crafted menu awaits the guests of Bistro 1888. Come on in and check out specials and dishes that locals and visitors alike just can’t seem to get enough of.
  • Molasses Grill – 4.5 stars – S Main St, Halifax – 5.5 miles from trail
    “Very impressive, definitely a fan, and will definitely come back.” Shuk C.
    This fine dining restaurant is the perfect blend of flavor and full plates to help you relax after a long day on the trail. With meals cooked to perfection you’ll find yourself on the trail again just to come back by.

Lodging:

  • Best Western Plus – 4 stars – Thompson Rd, South Hill – 1.7 miles from trail
    “Comfortable and convenient.” Audrey S.
    This Best Western is packed full of welcoming people, comfortable rooms, and a great view. This is the place to be after a long day out on the trail. Come in and take a break.

About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

Shellie Anne says:

A terrific article! Worthy of saving, thank you.

giniajim says:

Let me add another rail trail to your list. The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail in King George County. 15.5 miles under a nice tree canopy. Not fully developed but Friends’ group is slowly covering the trail with rock dust. See the web site for full details: http://www.friendsdrht.org.