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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 Huckleberry Trail is a mix of rural and rolling landscape, sometimes forested, sometimes wide open, and town life as the trail starts and ends in city centers. The northern trailhead is nestled in a residential neighborhood at the Blacksburg Area Branch 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. Crossing under State Route 460, take care to stay with the Huckleberry as it heads southeast along the highway. Other options lead you to the roadway or fade away into farm fields.
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 trailhead north of New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg is the former terminus of the trail. Now you can either plow up the steep hillside to the mall-side pocket park (one of many on the trail) or branch off to the west around the base of the hill to run adjacent to the active rail line. A new bridge over SR 114 continues the trail behind big-box stores to Cambria Street and the trail’s current endpoint at the Christiansburg Recreation Center.
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 parking near the southern terminus, take US 460 toward Christiansburg and turn right on State Route 114/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.
This is a very nice trail. Well maintained, great views, good mix of terrain. Thanks Virginia.
Very surprised at how well maintained the trail was. WE really liked the rolling hills and the countryside mixed with a little urban too. We are on our way to Indian Head Trail in Maryland but stopped here to do the Huckleberry Trail to gain some miles. Very good trail for walkers, runners AND cyclists! 4 out of 5 stars for this ride! MEW from Georgia
My husband and I biked this trail last week. We picked it up at the NRV mall (note to others - be sure to park by the movie theatre and not behind the dept store - steep uphill if you park there - flat by the theatre). This trail is beautiful and goes through woods, pastures, and a little bit of "city" in Blacksburg. You can see Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. This was a gorgeous trail but was a bit hilly between miles 3 and 5. No problem for my husband but I had to walk a few hills. We did go "off trail" on the coal mine loop - it was a little dicey but fun! Highly recommended but be warned about the hills.
Last year (2010) the town of Christiansburg extended the trail to parallel the remaining active railroad to where it crosses VA 114. It now ends at the NRV mall's movie theaters ands adds around 6/10s to the length. There is also ample parking at the new trailhead at the theaters. In comment to an earlier reviewer stating it is hilly and not a rail-trail; well it is a rail-trail but portions of the original line were severed by the Virginia Tech airport and the 460 bypass after it was abandoned years ago, so the ends had to be connected. The town also wants to cross VA 114 with the trail and make it end further into town.
"This trail is a delight at all times, but I recommend it most during the month of June. Start at the Blacksburg end (right near the public library) and enjoy the range of wildflowers and the hedgerows of berries and blossoms. Vistas of meadows with the Blue Ridge mountains in the background make this a serene and peaceful experience."
"This ranks as one of our favorite trails in VA. It's relatively short, but asphalt can't be beat on a bicycle and the country scenery is an attraction. There is an old anthracite coal Mine that has been blocked off that is of historical note. We met the very friendly police chief of Blacksburg (Chief Brown) and several other folk."
"We ride with a recumbant and a handcycle and had difficulty with this one. One reviewer wrote that there were a ""few hills.""
It turns out there are a lot of hills and the grades are about 8%. Most rail-trails we have riden have far fewer hills and it seems unlikely a train actually used this one. Too bad, it was a pretty trail and in a lovely part of Virginia.
The town of Blacksburg has some nice eating spots and parking by the library was convenient, but you do have to ride on the street for a block or two. On the other end at the mall is probably the safest access, but the long steep hill is intimidating."
"The Huckleberry Trail is a nice, scenic trail for biking or in-line skating. There is an excellent paved surface that averages a ~2% upward grade toward Blacksburg, with a few short, moderate hills.
The trail is scenic and quiet on the Christiansburg half; users will see open fields and have views into downtown Blacksburg.
Skate it in dry weather.
"The Huckleberry trail running between downtown Blacksburg, Va and the New River Valley Mall on US 460 in Christiansburg, Va runs for 5.76 miles. It is great for train watching. The trail crosses over the Norfolk Southern Whitethorne line (former Virginian railway)where heavy long coal trains climb to the summit of the eastern divide. The bridge offers a great vantage point to view the locomotives. A mile south of the bridge the trails ends at the mall where the Huckleberry line (Blacksburg branch) is still in limited use. If you are lucky you might witness a train delivering cars to the Corning plant. The line was build to serve the coal mines in the Merrimac area just north of the NS tracks. The community got its' name from the civil war ironclad ""Merrimac"" of which burned coal from the mines in this area.
The trail is paved, quiet, and friendly. "
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