Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail

Departure Address: VA-151, Piney River, VA 22964Map

Coordinates: 37.708215, -79.0230404 Map

Parking: Trailhead off VA Rt 151Map

Total Distance: 13 miles roundtrip

Food and Drinks: Cambells's General StoreMap

This is a 14 mile ride on one of Virginia’s newest Rail-to-Trail project at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We will be riding at a leisurely pace on mostly flat terrain. The trail surface is made up of asphalt, crushed stone and ballast. A mountain bike or hybrid bike will be needed for this ride. The trail passes under tall conifers and other deciduous trees while paralleling Piney River near its north bank with plenty of places to pull off to get closer to the river. Near Rose Mill, the trail passes over a bridge that traverses the Piney River.

The trail traces the route of the former Virginia Blue Ridge Railway. The line originally extended from Tye River Depot, where it interchanged with the Southern Railway, to Massies Mill. The railroad followed the course of the Tye and Piney Rivers for several miles before entering the mountains. It passed through the communities of Roses Mill, Piney River, Canopy, Lowesville, and Buffalo Mine. It was built in 1915 to haul chestnut timber out of the heavily-timbered Piney River area to local mills. Timber runs were halted during World War I, since they were not essential to the war effort, and a chestnut blight wiped out much of the timbered areas.

Passenger service carried the line through 1936. The line saw a true resurgence when a company began extracting titanium dioxide from the Piney River and needed transport. Also, three companies were built to extract aplite from the area and used the rail for transport and the line thrived until the late 1960s. Hurricane Camille destroyed some of the tracks in 1969 and Cyanamid, the company that began the line's industrial boom in the 1930s, closed in 1970.

You will need to bring a bike, helmet, water and snacks. You may also want to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, camera and light jacket. Don't forget a first aid kit and bike repair kit!

Recommended Gear:

Bike First Aid Kit

Bike Repair Kit

Cycling Backpack

Recommended Meetups and Other Groups:

Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club

Recommended Books: Falcon Mountain Bike Virginia, Mountain Bike! Virginia, Backroad Bicycling in the Blue Ridge.

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