The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail is one of the most beautiful rail-trail experiences you’ll find in Virginia. The trail is located in Central Virginia, just a little less than an hour from both Lynchburg and Charlottesville. The leisurely seven mile trail covers diverse and beautiful landscapes. Unique historical sites are stationed along the way, and hikers will be sure to see remnants of the old train.
What now stands as a beautiful and scenic hiking trail in central Virginia began as the dream of a local group of citizens. They saw great potential in the abandoned railway and wished to have it converted into a hiking trail. Thus the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Foundation, Inc. was formed.
In its day, the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway was once the longest-running commercial short line in the country’s history. The company was founded in 1914 and construction began at the Tye River Depot in Nelson County. The structure of the railroad would follow along both the Tye and Piney Rivers before it headed into mountain territory. Until World War I, the railway was largely used to transport chestnut and lumber to nearby mills. Later, the trail would be used to service quarries.
By 1980, the Blue Ridge Railway had become completely abandoned and would remain that way until it was later developed for the rail-to-trails project. It took nearly 6 years of planning, working, and fund-raising, but efforts from the foundation proved successful. By June 2003, the first phase of the trail was opened to the public. This included nearly 2 miles of trail surfaces and renovation of the railway bridge. Photographed above is the exquisite river scenery that follows alongside the walkway.
Today the completed trail provides an incredible glimpse into the natural landscape as well as the historical influence of the original train line. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The trail can be accessed from either Piney River Trailhead (on Patrick Henry Highway) or the Roses Mill trailhead (State Route 674).