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"Virginia is for Lovers" is the tourism slogan for the state, but for outdoor enthusiasts, you could also easily say that "Virginia is for Trail Lovers." The state's eclectic mix of trail experiences truly offers something for every trail traveler.
Nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands, the New River Trail State Park offers 57 miles of scenic riding largely along its namesake river under a lush canopy of trees. Remnants of the area's industrial past—like old iron furnaces, a tall shot tower where musket balls were made, restored train depots, railroad trestles and a bright red caboose at the southern trailhead in Galax—also make for an enjoyable ride into history.
Running from Jamestown to Richmond, the story of the Virginia Capital Trail is the story of early American history itself, from the English colony that started it all through the war that nearly ripped it asunder 250 years later. Dozens of historical markers can be found along the paved 52-mile pathway and there are 10 plantations open to the public along the route, some mere steps from the trail.
Traveling for 45 miles from just outside of Washington, D.C., into the rolling hills of Virginia’s Piedmont, the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park offers a tranquil respite connecting several towns and providing a recreational haven. The W&OD Trail, which has a well-earned place in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, is also part of the growing Capital Trails Coalition trail system in the D.C. metro region.
Tucked into the Blue Ridge range of southwestern Virginia, is a stunning Rail-Trail Hall of Famer, the 32-mile Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail. From its highpoint on the eastern end of the trail, the gravel pathway flattens out on its way to Abingdon, breaking from the forested wilderness into open farmland and more populated areas. Along the way, you'll cross 47 bridges, some more than 600 feet long.
The central feature for which the 32-mile High Bridge Trail is named is an unforgettable experience, towering 125 feet above the mighty Appomattox River and nearly a half-mile (2,440 feet) across it. The bridge’s breathtaking view of the surrounding central Virginia countryside, combined with the ease of getting here—the trail is only about an hour’s drive from both Lynchburg and Richmond—make it a must-see destination
The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail offers a quintessential rail-trail experience in central Virginia, midway between Lynchburg and Charlottesville (less than an hour’s drive from each). The trail is an easy, picturesque ride through a beautiful, natural setting with plentiful opportunities to see unique historical sites. The Piney and Tye rivers are constant companions, and you’ll cross five bridges on the 7-mile route, including a photo-worthy covered bridge at Naked Creek.
The 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail stretches from Rosslyn in Virginia south to the Mount Vernon Estate, President Washington’s famous home. The trail passes through parks, wetlands, urban areas, suburban neighborhoods, woods and Old Town Alexandria—one of the most historically significant locales from the American Civil War and now a popular waterfront area.
In southwestern Virginia, the Guest River Gorge Trail meanders along 300-million-year-old sandstone cliffs that plunge 400 feet to the pristine waters below. The gentle grade of this 6-mile trail and its crushed-stone surface make it ideal for a comfortable bike ride. In addition to spectacular Guest River views, the trail offers a trip through Swede Tunnel, built in 1922, and crosses three bridges.
Waterfalls, river views, rugged rock formations, vibrant fall foliage and delicate flowers in the spring: these are the sights that put the “scenic” in Jackson River Scenic Trail. Along the 14-mile gravel trail, nestled in the Allegheny Highlands of western Virginia, keep watch for deer, rabbits, groundhogs and other wildlife that call these peaceful surroundings home.
The James River Heritage Trail offers 9.5 miles of pathway through Blackwater Creek Natural Area and historical areas of downtown Lynchburg. Highlights include Hollins Tunnel, which stretches nearly half a mile, and a spectacular refurbished railroad bridge onto Percival's Island.
"Biking" may not be the first word you think of when you picture Texas, but the Lone Star State has some surprising recreational gems.
You'll have a variety of trail experiences to choose from in Washington, from rustic backcountry adventures to well-groomed paved routes through city centers.
Colorado: There are few states as well associated with outdoor recreation as this one—and for good reason.