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You can access the Elizabeth River Trail from several places, including the intersection of Langley Road and Redgate Ave.; the intersection of Claremont and Raleigh Avenues; on Boissevain Ave., on Warrington Ave. and on W. Olney Road (all near the intersection with Claremont Ave.).
The trail also connects with many streets in West Ghent. In addition, on-street parking is available all along the trail.
This is a great route, but I agree with others that the signs are hard to see sometimes. We parked at the Harbor Park baseball stadium, rode along Waterside, thru Ghent (then trail is closed for construction), rode on Brambleton for a few minutes, then West Ghent to ODU and back. Our total was 11 miles. It helped that we were familiar with the area!
I had a great time on this trail. It was Sunday morning, I parked at Harbor park and started cycling from there. The water front has plenty of room to ride quickly with great visibility to avoid pedestrians, not many this morning. I took the trail past the Chrysler museum then wandered a little but that is the great thing about urban riding, you kind of can see where you are by the buildings. I did not do entire trail. I rode 6 miles and then turned back.
By scavenger hunt, I mean trying to stay on the trail. The lack of signage put us in a part of town I'm not sure I wanted to be. The trial maker signs aren't in practical spots and are very small. We turned and shortly into our ride. Unfortunate.
Check out a tour of the trail I did on my bike!!!
I live near the northern section of this trail - and have ridden it numerous times end to end. As others have said - it is not a rail trail in the classic sense. Except the original "Atlantic City" section in the Chelsea / Fort Norfolk area (used to be called Atlantic City), most of the trail is on-road or on separate right of way that was not a former railroad. However, if you're looking to see a very large swath of the City of Norfolk's greatest attributes - ride the trail from end to end.
Unfortunately, until the second "Mid-Town Tunnel" is finished in 2016 or 2017, the best "rail trail" part of the route is closed - or at least bisected. There is a detour - but it is entirely on-street and poorly marked. When the project is open, and the trail is whole again the trail will be much, much better. In the meantime - print out a map to bring with you or else you're certain to get lost. Most locals will help you find your way.
The major attractions on the route in downtown Norfolk nclude Harbor Park (minor league baseball), Towne Point Park, Nauticus and the battleship USS Wisconsin. Continuing north west outside of downtown Norfolk there are numerous interesting stopping areas. Plum Point Park is a quiet waterside nature park close to Forth Norfolk. "Chelsea" is the hip newly rejuvenated industrial area of West Ghent with Smartmouth Brewery, Tortilla West, The Birch (beer and wine tasting), Torch Bistro, and Chelsea Bakehouse. Further north are the newest parts of the trail - the connector between Mallory Country Club and Jeff Robertson Park in West Ghent. North of the Hampton Boulevard / Norfolk Southern RR underpass, the trail enters residential neighborhoods - first Lambert's Point - then Old Dominion University - and finally Larchmont and Loch Haven (after the beautiful ride over the Lafayette River bridge).
In my opinion, the worst part of the existing trail route is the railroad underpass on Hampton Blvd near 21st Street. Built in 1939 - the sidewalk is too narrow (about 6 feet), dark, and sometimes strewn with broken glass. I would greatly prefer a bike/ped bridge over the Norfolk Southern rail yard. It would be a shorter route to connect West Ghent with Lambert's Point and Larchmont neighborhoods.
Perhaps sometime this trail will also continue to other new trail connections - such as along the railroad tracks parallel to International Terminal Boulevard in the north - and east into Virginia Beach along the light rail line. One can only dream.
Trail is cut off in diff places, not fun.
This trail has parts of it closed consistently on weekends with no detours. When there are events at Town Point Park, they will install fences along the trail. Also the trail is now closed near MHI. There also is a part of the trail through the oriental garden (this is also a choke point in the trail) that is now occasionally closed for private functions. I use part of this trail for commuting over to Berkley or the ferry, but find it annoying to use on the weekends with all the closures and lack of detours. So I don't think this should really be called a trail. Also the signage for the trail could be better. Especially since the cannonball trail follows it for a bit.
My wife and I had a great ride today through Norfolk on the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT) starting at Harbor Park and turning around just North of the Hampton Bldv bridge.
- You see a lot, ex: downtown Norfolk, the USS Wisconsin, Freemason, the Light Rail, the Hague, Ghent, West Ghent, ODU, the Norfolk Yacht Club.
- I know Norfolk well, yet as this was my first time on the ERT I noticed buildings and details that had escaped me in the past.
- We didn't measure our ride, but it was probably about 17 miles or so.
- The route is well covered. So even though it was a hot sunny July day, it felt pretty good since there was a lot of shade.
- The usage of "Trail" is not accurate. Out of the 8.5 or so miles we rode (out, then back), I estimate maybe 3/4 mile are dedicated asphalt paths such as what's shown in the picture on TrailLink. The 3/4 mile of dedicated paths are not in one area but chopped up along 3-4 parts of the route. The remaining parts of the route are the wide walkways of Town Point Park and a maze of neighborhood streets.
- Some sections of the route require you have to cross and ride on busy Hampton Blvd.
- Since it was our first going to on ERT, and I realized beforehand that there were a ton of turns we'd have to make, I had to bring a printed map of the route with me. I only saw a few signs for the ERT near Dominion Tower. Without signage I had to stop at least 10 times to refer to the map and ensure we were still on the path and not on some random street in the neighborhood.
- Without a printed map or GPS, you won't know how to get from one end of the ERT to the other unless you've ridden it many times before.
- Since most of the ride takes you through neighborhoods there is really no definitive end. After crossing the Hampton Blvd. bridge we were kind of bored of the ride, decided to ditch the last small section of the official ERT, and rode back using a much more direct route.
I'd refer to this as a route through Norfolk which mostly avoids vehicular traffic. Due to the need to navigate and account for cars, it was slow going. You'll want to ride a mountain or commuter bike due to the sidewalks and sometimes rough roads. Don't ride your road bike - the skinny tires probably won't survive and there's not much opportunity to gain speed.
Overall, I'd recommend it for a leisurely ride, although I won't be a rush to go back.
The trail is a safe route through the winding Norfolk landscape that allows riders to see nature and the downtown city scape all in under 10 miles! Every weekend a group of bicyclist rides together on the Elizabeth River Trail in their community ride which meet at 1910 Colley Ave Norfolk Virginia at 8AM Saturday morning then heads to Robertson Park in Norfolk to get on the trail head. The group not only welcomed me but riders of all ages and skills level to join in. We staid together, we laughed together and enjoined each others company from the first day to every other day we have rode together since.
Interested in learning more about the trail visit 1910 Colley Ave Norfolk at 8am on any given Saturday and join in the tour!
a pleasant stroll can be had along this trail, though i wouldn't recommend this as a destination for cyclists, as you'd be finished in about 2 1/2 minutes end to end!...more creative bikers can integrate this into a longer trek through norfolk...hopefully, in the coming years, this trail could be expanded eastward along the vast expanse of waterfront
no signs advertising fort norfolk that i could see...i would have stopped in
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