HIKING: LOOPS & TRAILS
A circuit or loop hike is one where you can start and end at the same point without having to go “out and back” on the same trail. By combining more than one trail, you’ll traverse different scenery and terrain. The beauty of these types of hikes is that you don’t have to get worried about getting lost – as long as you pay attention!
Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail
The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail is 7 miles and is open for hiking, biking and horseback riding year-round from sunrise to sunset. The main trailhead is in Piney River on SR 151, Patrick Henry Hwy. It has ample parking for cars and horse trailers. A smaller trailhead (at milepost 1.7) in Rose Mill on SR 674, Rose Mill Rd can accommodate only cars. Restroom facilities (portajohns) are available at both trailheads.
The mainly crushed stone trail follows a scenic route along the Piney and Tye Rivers, where wildflowers bloom from spring through summer and wildlife abounds. The trail dead ends at the 7 mile point, there is no eastern access at Tye River Depot, you must retrace your steps to your vehicle.
During the autumn hunting season, trail users should wear blaze orange clothing. The trail is open sunrise to sunset. The trail occupies the rail bed of the former Virginia Blue Ridge Railway, which ran from Tye River Depot (to interchange with the Southern Railway) to Massies Mill. Construction of the railroad started in 1915 and the line was abandoned in 1980.
Beginning in late July 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be overseeing cleanup efforts at the U.S. Titanium Superfund Site. These cleanup activities will be next to the portion of the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail located near the Route 151 Piney River Trailhead entrance, and may result in partial closure of the trail and parking lot temporarily. The Rose Mill Trailhead would be the primary location for parking and access during this time. EPA and Nelson County Parks and Recreation are committed to continue providing trail users with the most up-to-date information. Please continue to check back in for more updates on this upcoming work by calling Nelson County Parks and Recreation: 434-263-7130. To learn more about the U.S. Titanium Superfund Site please visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/ustitanium
VIRGINIA BLUE RIDGE RAILWAY TRAIL
3124 Patrick Henry Highway | Piney River, Virginia 22964
Piney River Trailhead: 3124 Patrick Henry Highway Piney River, Virginia 22964
Rose Mill Trailhead: 1434 Rose Mill Rd. Arrington, Virginia 22922
Contacts: Nelson County, VA 434-263-7130 or Amherst County, VA 434-929-1954
DIRECTIONS, PARKING & TRAIL ACCESS
To access the Piney River trailhead from the Lovingston area, take US 29 to State Route 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56, and travel 5 miles to turn left onto SR 151. After 2 miles you’ll see the trailhead sign on left (3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River). Parking for cars and horse trailers is available. To access the Roses Mill trailhead from the Lovingston area, take US 29 to SR 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56 and go about 4 miles to left turn onto Roses Mill Road/SR 674). The trailhead is about 1.4 miles farther (around milepost 1.7 of the trail).
**See above information regarding partial closure in late July 2020**
Fortune’s Cove Nature Preserve
THE PRESERVE provides a challenging hike that rewards visitors with stunning mountain vistas. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades. The 5.5-mile loop trail climbs steeply from the parking area, gaining some 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching its highest point. A parking area and informational kiosk at the base of the cove will help orient visitors.
From Route 29 north at Lovingston, take Route 718 (Mountain Cove Road) to Route 651 (Fortune’s Cove Lane).
The USDA Forest Service has closed the parking lot and associated trail that provides access to Spy Rock. The Forest Service is closing the parking lot located behind the Montebello Fish Hatchery in Nelson County.
The public can continue to access Spy Rock via an alternative route. Hikers should be aware that this alternative route is approximately 6.5 miles in length (round-trip) and has fewer trail blazes and other directional signage. All hikers should carry a map of this alternative route and be well-prepared for this longer distance hike.
Parking for this alternative route is located at the end of State Route 826 (Meadows Lane). State Route 826 is maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation and is not suitable for some passenger vehicles. The road is recommended for travel only by higher clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles.
Directions to Spy Rock:
- From State Route 56, take State Route 826 (Meadows Lane) for approximately 3.75 miles to its end point at the Crabtree Meadows parking area.
- From the Crabtree Meadows parking area, hike back along State Route 826 for 0.5 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 596 (Cash Hollow Road).
- Hike* along Forest Service Road 596 (Cash Hollow Road) for 0.5 miles to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail.
- Turn right (south) on the Appalachian Trail and continue for 2.1 miles to the intersection with Spy Rock Trail, Forest Trail #732.
- Link to map
*Note: No parking is allowed on or along Forest Service Road 596 (Cash Hollow Road).
For more information on Spy Rock, please contact the Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger District office at 540-291-2188.
Montebello Nature Trail
A short trail (.5 mile) follows a small stream that was once part of the Montebello Fish Hatchery. The path is lined with a wide diversity of ferns as well as native shrubs and wildflowers. Relax on one of the benches and listen for the Louisiana water thrush or watch dragonflies skimming the stream. Entrance just above the dam. The trail is always open. Follow Route 56 to Montebello.
359 Fish Hatchery Lane
Montebello, VA 24464
Rockfish Valley Loop Trails
Experience the Rockfish River and Reid’s Creek on approximately 4 miles of trails on a farm surrounding the confluence. Part of the VIRGINIA BIRDING AND WILDLIFE TRAIL, these paths offer recreation and interaction with nature and history. Currently open for hiking only, these are mowed grass and dirt trails, and have a nearly flat grade throughout, although surrounded by spectacular mountain views.
Parking is located at SPRUCE CREEK PARK at old Wintergreen, and on the southwest side of the Route 151 bridge over the Rockfish River. Open sunrise to sunset.
Kids in Parks TRACK Trails
KIDS IN PARKS AT THE VIRGINIA BLUE RIDGE RAILWAY TRAIL
This Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation program helps get kids and families “un-plugged”, outdoors and actively engaged in nature, for their health and the health of our parks. Each TRACK Trail provides a series of self-guided, brochure led adventures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. Kids who register their TRACK Trail adventures on the KIDS IN PARKS WEBSITE become members of the program’s Trail TRACKer Team and earn prizes designed to make their next adventure more fun.
Piney River Depot & Trailhead
3124 Patrick Henry Highway
Piney River,Virginia, 22964
434-263-7130 or 434-263-7015
KIDS IN PARKS ROCKFISH VALLEY TRACK
The Rockfish Valley Kids in Parks Track Trail in Nellysford at the Rockfish Valley Foundation’s beautiful Rockfish River Trailhead on Route 151, 1.5 miles south of Nellysford. This is another of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Track Trail programs of self guided outdoor opportunities for kids and families to connect with nature. The Rockfish Valley TRACK Trail is a flat, 1mile loop that follows the South Fork of the Rockfish River and Reids Creek. The trail features riparian, field and bog habitats and offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail was made possible with grant support provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford, Virginia, 22958.
Rockfish River Trailhead
(Route 151) Rockfish Valley Highway (Southwest side of the Rockfish River bridge/ south of the Rockfish Valley Natural History Center)
Nellysford, VA 22958