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The Mendota Trail will one day stretch the entire length of the former Southern Railroad corridor between Bristol and Mendota. Currently, 10.62 miles of the eventual 12.5 miles are open to the public.
As of November 2022, there are two sections. The northern segment runs about 4.7 miles south from the Mendota Trailhead and crosses over the North Fork Holston River several times until it comes to a dead-end in the woods.
The southern segment runs 5.9 miles north from the Bristol Trailhead. It passes the Benhams Trailhead and continues north until it comes to an end roughly 300 feet northwest of the intersection of Wolf Run Road and Margay Drive. Trail access is available at the Mendota Trailhead (across from 2421 Mendota Rd), in the community of Benhams (7720 Rich Valley Rd, Bristol, near mile marker 5.3), and at the Bristol Trailhead (by 1788 Island Rd).
Starting from the Bristol Trailhead, there is a 0.4-mile asphalt trail that is ADA accessible with accompanying new ramp and steps. The rest of the Mendota Trail remains a natural surface. Cyclists, walkers, and runners can use the dirt trail to wander into lush and tranquil natural areas, which includes multiple water crossings and is partly bordered by a river.
Dogs are welcome, though they must remain leashed. A VDOT swinging bridge runs parallel to the trail bridge that crosses the North Fork of the Holston River at mile marker 11.5. The trail currently has a total of 11 restored trestles, including several that cross a creek at the bottom of a gorge.
The trail is owned and maintained by a private nonprofit organization, the Mendota Trail Conservancy, Inc. Please make sure to utilize only the open portions of the trail; the rest of the corridor is closed to the public due to ongoing construction. The trail is expected to be fully completed in 2023, when it is estimated that the restoration of the trestles located between the two segments will be finished. Be advised that cell service is absent or very limited over much of the trail due to its remoteness.
For those driving, parking is available at the northern trailhead (across from 2421 Mendota Rd, Mendota), at the current northern end of the southern segment (7720 Rich Valley Rd, Bristol), and at the southern trailhead (1788 Island Rd, Bristol). Visit the TrailLink map for step-by-step directions.
At least two addition miles are now open on the northern end. At about the 2.5 mile point going south, the grade begins to rise and the valley walls close in as you ascend into a gap. The trail remains plenty wide and there are some tables and stone benches nearing the 3.5 to 4.5 marks. I very much enjoyed the walk yesterday. Ps. Zero cell reception for most of the way on this end of the trail.
Entered from Mendota trailhead. Three new bridges, but trail ended at 2 miles. Gate sign said trail ends. Rough trail but doable.
Stopped at Bristol end and was under construction. Sign indicated we could go to Benhams and ride from that end. We drove to that end, rode the trail toward Bristol and in about a mile came to a gate with signs indicating trail was closed. Should take down the sign at Bristol Trail head and indicated it is closed instead.
We road the southern section from Belhems to Bristol VA. Just over 5 miles one way with 2 new trestle bridges near Belhems - one of each side. Steady climb up to the top midway then streaky climbs down to trailhead. One small section was added to the side of the road by cutting into the hill and it is a bit narrow. I would ride back up on the road, myself. Outside that the trail is wide and relatively smooth. Some grass. Glad the other sections were mainly froze. Today.
Walked the North end to where Trestle 16 was located. Beautiful area. I can't wait until the whole trail is done!!
A little on the rough side due to the larger gravel chunks, as well as pretty hilly! Not the smoothest ride but decent!
Great trail for all ages and riders. Will definitely be 5¿ when it's completed. Don't forget to stop by The Store @ Mendota.
If you are looking for a place to get away from the busy city the Mendota Trail is the place to go!
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