In the early 1900s, a train line nicknamed "the Huckleberry" was built to transport coal and provide mail and passenger service to Blacksburg. The line was also used by the Corps cadets at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (more commonly known as Virginia Tech), who unofficially renamed Blacksburg "Huckleberry Junction" because of the abundance of huckleberries that grew along the train line. The huckleberries grew after trees were cleared for railroad construction, and thereafter, the region became famous for delicious pies and jams. Although many of the huckleberries along the trail today have diminished, trail users can find huckleberry bushes planted around trail information kiosks.
The northern trailhead is nestled in a residential neighborhood at the Montgomery/Floyd Regional Library in downtown Blacksburg, across from the Virginia Tech campus. You may hear a marching band in the distance or notice a game at the nearby Worsham Field on campus. As you continue along this meandering trail, you leave the city and enter a rural landscape, passing behind quiet homes and through open fields and pockets of forests.
The Coal Miner's Heritage Park at mile 4, just before you reach a railroad bridge over the still-active Norfolk Southern rail line, displays old mining equipment. Unlike most rail-trails, this trail has many gentle curves and slopes, providing diversity in your trail experience. In fact, it is on these steeper sections that the old trains were said to have slowed down enough for the cadets to hop from the cars and pick huckleberries before the train gathered more speed.
The trail ends at New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. On the northern end, plans are underway to build connections to the national forest.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the northern trailhead, take US 460 toward Blacksburg and turn onto Main Street (take the US 460 Business route), heading north. Turn left on Miller Street, heading southwest, and drive three blocks to Harrell Street, where street parking is available. The trailhead is located in the library parking lot on Miller Street. However, avoid using this lot; towing may be enforced for trail users parked here.
To reach the southern trailhead, take US 460 toward Christiansburg and turn right on State Route 144 (Peppers Ferry Road). The New River Valley Mall is on the right on New River Road. Follow New River Road, which loops around the mall; trailhead parking is at the back of the mall.