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The Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail runs for 4.5 miles on a former Danville & Western Railroad corridor, which was acquired by Southern Railway in 1920 and ultimately abandoned by its successor, Norfolk Southern, in 2009. The original railroad was affectionately known as the "Dick & Willie" after its initials.
The paved trail passes through the heart of Martinsville, with short sections on both ends outside city limits in Henry County. Underpasses and restored trestles provide safe crossings of busy roads; there are only two at-grade crossings along the trail's entire length, and these are at low-traffic, rural roads.
In the west, the trail currently ends in the community of Villa Heights, near a supermarket and Mexican restaurant. In the east, a dead end forces trail users to turn around, but you will want to linger at a scenic overlook of Mulberry Creek in the area’s secluded woodlands.
At Pine Street in Martinsville, the Uptown Spur Trail branches off from the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail on a former railroad spur to head towards the city's charming downtown. Benches along both trails provide opportunities to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.
Ample parking for the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail is available at the western trailhead off Virginia Avenue/US 220 Business in Villa Heights. Access the parking lot from the shopping center at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Commonwealth Boulevard.
Additional parking and restrooms are available in Martinsville at trailheads located at the intersection of Liberty Street and Stultz Road; Doyle Street and Hooker Street; and Fisher Street and Fishel Street (remnants of an original trestle can be viewed here).
We pulled into the La Parral Mexican Restaurant lot and looked for the trail access. Take the road at the far end of the lot (southwest?) down to the parking for the trail head. We made sure to start our "climb" at the bottom of the trail (Virginia Road). Most of the trail was indeed uphill, but we put the bikes in low gear and took our time (we are 75+). It seemed a steeper climb than one expects from a Rail to Trail but still doable. It was a great trail surface with interesting information about the trail and clean, convenient stops along the way. The return trip was glorious. We just loved it.
The trail is all paved. Since it is leaf falling time it was a little hard to see the trail in some spots. Not a busy trail but we didn't realize that it was uphill for 3 miles. According to my phone exercise app it is 695 foot change in elevation. Very gentle and doable, though. We parked at the Virginia Ave trail head. We have an RV so we parked in the old Food Lion plaza just above the trail head parking. There was no signage for the parking area on the main roads for the parking area.
We started at the large mall parking lot by the Mexican restaurant. Plenty of parking. For those who are accustomed to flat rail trails this trail could be a problem. The first 3.5 miles were uphill (not steep but continuous). Small flat area outside of town at the top of the hill and then downhill for one more mile. We did the lovely 1 mile spur into the town. That makes 11 miles total. Mostly forested and shade, beautiful landscaping, and wide trail. Very little pedaling the last 4.5 miles to the car!
Very nice asphalt trail to run on. The community has made the trail very nice , parking and restrooms at three different locations and it's just beautifully maintained. They have plaques with historical information and the Spur Trail takes you to uptown area. I'll be back.
My wife and I rode this trail about 3 weeks ago. It was a workout for our 50+ year old legs! The downhill back to the parking lot at Virginia Ave. was a welcome relief.
We look forward too riding it again. Will also check out the Silverbell Trail.
I rode this yesterday, 5/6/2015. I began at the Doyle Street access point. I went left (away from Virginia Avenue) and rode to the end of the trail. I then turned around and rode to the opposite end, then back to where I began. I loved the downhill from Doyle Street to Virginia Avenue. The long, slow, slight uphill back to the car was a nice workout. It helped me get my "bicycle legs" back in working order.
There were several other trail users, mostly walkers. My husband, who was walking, said he saw one other bicyclist.
I felt safe throughout the entire ride, which is important. If I don't feel safe somewhere I won't return, no matter how nice the trail is.
I will definitely make the 45 one-way trip again to ride and/or walk on this trail more often.
We rode this in March 2015 on a weekday. We parked at the end near the Mexican restaurant--decent parking lot with a porta-potty. The ride from this end is all uphill for about 3 miles. Of course the ride back is all downhill fun. There's a trail that branches off the Dick & Willie that has some nice steep climbs, as well as some interesting brass animal sculptures. This was not one of our favorite trails....scenery was OK, but there were many unfriendly "cyclist" types on the trail which made it less enjoyable. Maybe it was the day we were there, who knows. Still, we're glad we rode this pleasant paved trail.
Love the fact that this trail has many access points. If we want a twenty minute walk or a forty minute jog, this trail works. Also love the fact that we meet all types of enthusiasts on the trail. (Lunch time walkers, moms with strollers, bikers, hard core runners, etc,). It's especially lovely to walk this trail on an autumn Sunday morning. You are "deep in the woods" but you hear the church bells in the distance. The people of Martinsville made a great investment in this trail. I often travel the 45 minute drive to Martinsville just to walk this trail with a friend on Sundays and then I end up spending the day (and money) in Martinsville. Love this trail.
I love to run this trail! Has good hills, well maintained and convenient access. There are several port a johns along the trail and also one permanent bathroom that (in my experience) has always been pretty clean. Great trail! Don't forget the bike barn if you are a biker!
The new Dick & Willie Passage rail trail is a wonderful new resource for our community. Guests can access the trail from four trailheads to enjoy miles of running, walking, cycling and in-line skating. In addition to being surrounded by nature, the trail offers convenient access to the Uptown Martinsville shopping and dining district that features boutique shops, art galleries, museums, restaurants, two performing arts theaters, discount furniture outlet shopping and a special photo opportunity with America's largest wooden chair.
Both residents and visitors may borrow a bike and helmet to ride for free through the "Bike MHC" program
at the Doyle St. Trailhead. This service is available on the following days:
-- Tuesdays from 11 am to 2 pm
-- Thursdays from 3-6 pm
-- Saturdays (1st, 4th & 5th) from 8 am-12 pm
-- Saturdays (2nd & 3rd) from 10:30 am-12:00 pm
Contact (276) 403-5087 for more details on "Bike MHC".
Additional information about area trails and other area attractions, restaurants, lodging and events can be found at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center at 54 West Church Street.
From the Dick & Willie Passage exit onto the Uptown Spur Trail (between the Doyal Street and Liberty Street trailheads). At the end of the Uptown Spur Trail walk/bike up Franklin Street past the Historic Henry County Courthouse and go one more block over to Church Street.
Plan your trip ahead by calling 1-800-PACE-4-YU or go online at www.Visitmartinsville.com.
This is a great trail for many different activities. I ran it and also biked it. It is really nice that you feel like you are really "in the woods" for much of the trail but you are right in town. There are 2 places that you can bike right off the trail, eat lunch and finish the trail. The trail is well taken care of and the signs, fences etc. are really nice.
Two of us began biking the trail @ El Parral Restaurant @ 670 Commonwealth Boulevard in Martinsville in the late afternoon in November 2010 and rode it to the opposite terminus and back. The weather was cool on a clear and crisp fall day. What a splendid ride. 100% paved; mostly a gentle uphill grade for about 2 miles then down. The length is about 4.5 miles (one way) for a perfect trip length out and back. The return trip was mostly downhill and fast. The trip takes you through a number of different commercial and residential neighborhoods and offers natives a whole new perspective of travel through the town. The view ranges from urban to woodsy with only one crossing of a traffic road. Attractive wooden fencing adorns several short stretches. The paved surface is awesome.
Much care and thought has gone into trail planning with the placement of several port-a-potties and bench seats at various appropriate spots along the way. What a wonderful trail for little ole Martinsville, VA. Why you can even stop for lunch at Dominoes pizza which is almost on the trail.
You don't ride this trail without meeting friends along the way so allow plenty of time!
Much thanks to those with the foresight to implement such a terrific trail; I'm sure there are already plans on the table to extend this beautiful trail towards Collinsville. I can't wait.
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