Jackson River Scenic Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

Waterfalls, river views, rugged rock formations, vibrant fall foliage and delicate flowers in the spring: These are the sights that put the “scenic” in Jackson River Scenic Trail. The serene rail-trail, nestled in the Allegheny Highlands of western Virginia, traces the route of what was once the Hot Springs Branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

It begins in Intervale, just north of Covington, and winds north hugging the curves of its namesake river. Picnic benches along the water allow you to rest and take in the beautiful surroundings. For added adventure, you can kayak or canoe in the river, and it’s also known as an excellent place for trout fishing.

The trail’s crushed gravel surface stops at the Smith Bridge trailhead; north from there, the trail has a natural, grassy surface to its end at Natural Well. Much of the route is wooded and you may see deer, rabbits, groundhogs and other wildlife.

Round out your experience with a visit to the C&O Depot in Covington for a peek at the trail’s railroad past. The restored 1908 structure now houses the Alleghany Historical Society and their exhibits on the history of the region. Rail buffs may also want to head 11 miles east of Covington to Clifton Forge, where many historic railroad artifacts and equipment are on display at the C&O Railway Heritage Center.

Another nearby and worthwhile side trip is the Falling Spring Overlook. The roadside attraction is a jaw-dropping 80-foot waterfall on US 220, just north of Covington.

Parking and Trail Access

There are three parking areas for the trail:

  • Just north of Covington at US 220 and Dressler Road
  • In Clearwater Park on Jackson River Road across from Petticoat Junction
  • At the Smith Bridge parking lot on State Route 721, a half-mile off Route 687


Great trail, not quite as long as advertised

   June, 2016 by rhlanham

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 ...read more

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

   June, 2016 by twobisbees

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 ...read more


   November, 2015 by rockisland

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 ...read more