The central feature for which the 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.
During the Civil War, the bridge—now included on the National Register of Historic Places—was a strategic point for both Union and Confederate soldiers; both armies made attempts to destroy it to prevent the other side from crossing the river. About a dozen miles from the west end of the High Bridge Trail is the famed Appomattox Court House, where General Lee finally surrendered. Several museums and other historical attractions in Appomattox make the town a worthwhile side trip.
Those looking for a short, easy outing can begin their journey in the charming town of Farmville. From downtown, riders and hikers will only have 4.5 miles to go to reach the bridge, following the wide, gentle grade of the former South Side Railroad, a spur off the Norfolk Southern Railway. Along the way, look for the railroad’s mile-marker posts dating back to the 1850s; those marked with “N” list the distance from Norfolk; those labeled with a “W” notified railroad engineers to blow their whistles. (For an even shorter excursion, a closer parking lot is available at River Road, about a mile from the bridge.)
For the more adventurous, the rail-trail extends outward from either end of the bridge, totaling more than 30 miles through woodlands and rural farmland. The trail’s surface of finely crushed limestone is well-suited for hybrids and mountain bikes, and horseback riding is also permitted. Restrooms are available en route, but drinking water is not, so be sure to pack some.
In addition to Farmville, the communities of Pamplin City, Prospect and Rice are also connected by the trail. Its eastern end lies just outside of Burkeville.
To access the trail, parking is available at the following locations (west to east); a fee is required.
- Near Pamplin: Heights School Road off U.S. Business 460, near trail milepost 168
- In Elam: Off U.S. 460 at Sulpher Spring Road, near trail milepost 164
- In Prospect: Prospect Road off U.S. 460, near trail milepost 161 (wheelchair accessible; designated horse trailer parking)
- In Tuggle: Tuggle Road off U.S. 460 and near U.S. 15 North, near trail milepost 156
- In Farmville: In the municipal lots where the trail intersects Main Street, near trail milepost 150
- In Farmville: Osborn Road, 0.25 mile off N. Main Street, near trail milepost 149 (designated horse trailer parking)
- In Farmville: River Road, 3 miles off N. Main Street, near trail milepost 146
- In Rice: Depot Road, 0.25 mile off U.S. 460, near trail milepost 142 (wheelchair accessible)