Jackson River Scenic Trail Reviews    

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Great trail, not quite as long as advertised

By rhlanham in June, 2016

Yesterday my wife and I rode the trail. Coming from Lynchburg the trail head in Covington was easy to find, and there were signs directing you through town (this was the Intervale trail head). The trail is predominantly flat, with a few sections that have a slight grade, up or down depending on your direction. We experienced no dogs that some of the other reviewers mentioned, only 1 black snake, but he was minding his own business. There are plenty of things to see, and the trail was very well maintained (the county was even clearing trees yesterday). The mile markers were spot on with my GPS. The trail currently ends at the Smith Bridge parking area, and the mileage there from Intervale was 7.1 or so, definitely not 10. Be sure to check out the old Smith bridge over the river there! There was currently construction underway on extending the trail farther North, so once this is done it will make the trail even nicer! Lunch afterwards at Cucci's Italian in Covington is a must!

Good trail- one bumpy stretch- and no access above the Smith Bridge

By twobisbees in June, 2016

My wife and I purchased new bikes a few weeks ago. Since then we have ridden 3 trails. This trail was really, really nice. The ONLY complaint was that about a 2-3 mile stretch was fairly bumpy due to horse tracks. It appeared that the area had received a LOT of rain recently- perhaps this made the trail more bumpy than usual. There is a riding stable located along the trail, and it was evident that the horses had been using the trail about 1-2 miles in either direction and had rutted up the trail a little. We were also disappointed that there was no trail access above the Smith Bridge- it looks like they are currently getting ready to add cinders to the trail above the Smith Bridge.

Hopefully the trail will be "groomed" at some point to smooth out the bumpy areas. If it were smooth, this trail would get a 5+ rating from us !


By rockisland in November, 2015

What a wonderful trail. This trail maybe a little out of the way but it is a crown jewel of rail trails! Plus, once you're in the area there are many outdoor activities/adventures available. The Jackson River views are amazing as well as the cliffs, mountains and even fields. You can not get a more complete experience. I spoke with maintenance workers on the trail (super nice)and they said that the next two sections will be under construction at the beginning of the year. This will connect the Intervale trail head to the City of Covington and continue the trail from the Smith Bride trail head to the Bath County line. They also said a future connection into Bath County is under development. Very much so looking forward to that!

Unleashed dogs=awful experience in beautiful setting

By martinjm77 in October, 2015

My husband and were enjoying the JRST on Sunday, July 19 between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. At approximately 5.8 miles, a loose dog (white with brown spots) emerged from a yard to our right. Thinking it had more bark than bite, we didn't flee but tried to steer clear. It pursued me on the left side and bit my upper left ankle. The wound bled for the rest of the ride. The house is north of a place called 'heavenly acres' and a place with chihuahua pups for sale. I spoke with another group of riders and the dog chased one of them as well.

Per this incident on July 19, I received no less than 8 phone calls from a Sheriff Deputy and no less than 3 calls from the Alleghany Health Department. The dog that bit me was not located. I was highly encouraged (almost forced) to obtain the rabies vaccine, which I did.

One awful dog, on one awful day in Covington/Alleghany County has now cost my insurance company over $3,500 and me personally, out of pocket, just under $2000.

There are no 'unleashed dog' warning signs and no protective barriers.

The trail is high risk for preventative injury in albeit a place of beauty. Because of my experience, and the experience of other riders from what I hear and read, I would not recommend this trail to anyone.

Lovely and flat

By nataliedell in August, 2015

My husband and I did a long run here while staying at The Homestead, about 30 minutes away by car. The scenery is beautiful and the trail is shady and flat. We saw other runners as well as bikers and a few dog-walkers (though all were leashed or were quickly grabbed as soon as owners saw us coming). There were a few loose dogs at nearby yards, however.

Highly recommended for those looking for some beautiful and flat distance while in the area!

Great experience

By jake.berberich in September, 2014

My son and I had a wonderful experience. Rode early Saturday morning. The trail is well maintained and free of debris. No problems with dogs as mentioned in other reviews, but did hear them. Simply beautiful ride. Wish it were closer to Roanoke!

Literally a life changer

By darwenus in September, 2014

This is the trail that has gotten me to change my sedentary life for the better. The Jackson River Scenic Trail a wonderful beginner's trail for anyone who is just beginning to become active. It is wide and gravel lined, and the elevation changes are slow and gradual. You can walk it at a leisurely pace, use it for bicycling or running, and enjoy it in the way that suits your own current activity level. This trail is beautiful and it serves as kind of a mental and physical reset-button for me. I can't say enough good about it. Pictures I've taken on the trail this summer are here:

Sheriff's Office Patrol of the trail

By acso trail patrol in September, 2014

The Sheriff's Office patrols this trail from time to time on ATV's. Any violations should be reported by dialing 911 or 540-965-1770.

Too Many Dogs not on leashes on this trail!

By twins5050 in September, 2014

This is a beautiful trail; however, everytime I ride my bicycle on the trail there are dogs on the trail not on leashes. I am on the trail 4 or 5 times a week. Recently, two dogs tried to bite me. They are always between mile 3 marker and just past the 2nd gate and are not with any owner. Several times I have been biking and dog owners will have their dogs unleashed with them. They always say - "He won't bite." I always get off my bike, and slowly walk past. I feel the need to protect myself, so I will begin bringing pepper spray with me. I feel that Parks and Recreation should do something about this.

Wonderful Trail and River

By youker in May, 2014

I did this 7.2 mile trail from Smith Bridge 5/4/14 with my wife driving shuttle. By the way when you are down here don't miss seeing the Falling Spring at the wayside up on Rt. 220. It is totally unique. The surface is very small loose stone and I found it a bit harder work than a firm surface and used one gear lower. I had a talk with a local and they do hope to extend the trail 10 miles farther but are having normal landowner problems. The river looked so great I wished I had my kayak for the white water. Spring flowers were great. Youker

best yet

By reese.mcclanahan in March, 2014

This trail is wonderful and a hidden treasure. Very nice surface, well kept and very few people on any part of the trail, at least in early spring/late winter. It is by far the trail with the most houses, but it seems the most serene.

best trail yet

By reese.mcclanahan in February, 2014

This has by far been the prettiest trail yet. Very easy, like walking on sand at the beach. Beautiful!!


By jessicarobin in January, 2014

I did this trail in December, I enjoyed it. Its a very nice trail and is a relaxing ride. I recommend this to everyone.


By anoumpire in December, 2013

This trail is an awesome little ride. Surface is great for a smooth ride views along the trail are really nice. Just all around good 14 mile round trip from intervale to smith bridge and back. Highly recommend this trail. I have rode on several rail trails and this one is top of the line. THUMBS UP!!!

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

By jhill@rockingham.k12.va.us in May, 2013

My wife and I rode on this trail on Memorial Day weekend 2013. The trail is in excellent condition. It is an easy ride, flat, and offers beautiful scenery. We plan to return with our grandchildren as this trail seems to be a very safe one for small children to ride on, too, since it does not have steep drop-offs or other hazards.

Very Nice!

By shannans in April, 2013

My husband and I took to this trail on April, 7th 2013 and the trail looked like it was brand new. New picnic tables along the river, the crushed gravel surface was smooth, free of debris and rocks- just perfect. We encountered a little waterfall off of some rock/cliff formation midway right on the trail that you could touch it. It looked so refreshing as we were breaking a little sweat. This would be a great trail for family rides as it is nice and wide to accomodate bikers and walkers.


By charlesdove in October, 2012

This was my first ride on the Jackson River trail, and I was impressed with the scenery, the crushed stone surface, and the parking at the trailheads. The trail now starts at Dressler Dr. (Va778)just as you turn left from route 220 north (just before the Nissan dealer).This is around 2 miles down river/trail from the Jackson River Road access. Large lot with information kiosk and porta-potty. I parked at the Smith Bridge Road lot which is where the crush stone surface ends going north. I measured the distance at 7.5 miles between here and the Dressler Dr. lot. You could continue north but the trail is grass along with water puddles.


By cwilliamsjrst in September, 2012

Newly developed and just amazing. Great family bike ride with beautiful views. Highly recommended!


By snedegar123 in September, 2012

The trail was renovated by a local construction company, and it's a lot nicer then it used to be. They have signs posting it's location, and also it's own parking lot along Jackson River Rd. right across from Petticoat Junction. I use it to run quite frequently, and i couldn't love it any more!

Scenic trail

By jeepster93 in March, 2009

The Jackson River trail is an abandoned C & O railroad bed with very scenic small waterfalls present over rocks in the spring time. On Jackson River road you can park at Petticoat Junction store (just ask the store attendant). Just a little ways from the store you can go either North or South. The South part is not too long and goes back towards Covington. The highlight of the trail is the North route which goes towards Lake MooMaw partially alongside the Jackson River. This part of the trail is roughly 14 miles one way, so you might want to pack a small backpack if you plan on doing the entire North route. It is slightly upgrade going North.

The trail is old ballast and can be very rough in spots. There are a few waterholes, and in one spot approximately 10 miles North of Jackson River road there is a slightly damaged trestle, but if you are very careful you can get over it. In the mid-summer time there are lots of delicious blackberries along the trail, but watch out for the poison oak. I would highly recommend a mountain bike with good tire tubing. A hybrid bike will work, but you have to have thick tubing and be careful in spots where there are some unexpected rocks along the trail. Have fun!

hard to find

By ekolivera in September, 2008

This trail was very difficult to find, but once we located it, we enjoyed our ride. It is hard packed grass. Not many locals seem to know about it. Here are the directions we were given from the Homestead.

Take route 220 south (8-10 miles from the Homestead)
Turn right onto Fall Road (640) There is a small abandoned concrete building on the corner.
Turn left onto Jackson River road.
Make next left onto Smith Bridge Road.
Park at river acess. Bike trail is not along the river. Go back up the road that you just came down and look for yellow posts that mark the entrance to the trail.
The north branch (left) doesn't go very far. Maybe a mile or two.
The south branch goes to Interval, there is a portion that is on a road. We stopped there and turned back.
It is a very pleasant ride.