Mendota Trail


17 Reviews

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Mendota Trail Facts

States: Virginia
Counties: Washington
Length: 12.5 miles
Trail end points: Across from 2421 Mendota Rd (Mendota) and 3460 Island Rd (Bristol)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Boardwalk, Cinder, Crushed Stone, Dirt, Grass, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 9787258

Mendota Trail Description


The Mendota Trail stretches the entire length of the former Southern Railroad corridor between Bristol and Mendota. This 12.5-mile rail-trail became fully connected in September 2023.

About the Route

Trail access is available at the Bristol Trailhead (3460 Island Rd), in the community of Benhams (7720 Rich Valley Rd, Bristol), and at the Mendota Trailhead (across from 2421 Mendota Rd). Mile markers run south to north from Bristol (0.0) to Mendota (12.5) in half mile increments. 

Starting from the Bristol Trailhead, the first 0.4-mile asphalt section is fully ADA accessible with an accompanying ramp leading to the trail. The remainder of the route is a combination of cinder railroad bed, gravel, crushed stone, dirt, and grass. Mountain bikes are recommended. Cyclists, walkers, and runners can use the trail to meander through a tranquil countryside of farmlands, fields, and forests.

The route includes multiple creek crossings and seventeen restored trestle bridges. At mile marker 11.5, the trail crosses the North Fork of the Holston River via the restored Sunny Side Trestle, which is paralleled by a 275-foot-long swinging bridge.

Amenities include a covered pavilion with picnic tables and a seasonal restroom in Bristol. Port-a-potties are available year round in Benhams and Mendota, and during the off-season in Bristol. Additional picnic tables are available creekside in “the gorge," an especially scenic segment of the trail between mile marker 7.0 and just north of mile marker 9.5.

As a rail-trail, the majority of the route is flat with a maximum of a 3% grade. The two exceptions are at mile marker 1.0 and at 10.7 (just north of mile marker 10.5), which have short grades approaching 8%.

The trail is owned and maintained by Washington County, Virginia as a county park. Be advised that cell service is absent or very limited over much of the trail due to its remoteness. Dogs are welcome, though they must remain leashed. Equestrian usage is not permitted. 

Parking and Trail Access

For those driving, parking is available at the southern trailhead (3460 Island Rd, Bristol), midway along the route (7720 Rich Valley Rd, Bristol), and at the northern trailhead (across from 2421 Mendota Rd, Mendota).

Visit the TrailLink map for step-by-step directions.

Mendota Trail Reviews

Beautiful Area

Rode from Hiltons Va on the Hiltons Highway to the Mendota Trail, very scenic Valley, rolling hills with limited traffic. Highly recommend.

I rode about 5 miles (out and back) on the Mendota Trail. The trail was way too bumpy for a Trek hybrid with no shocks. Would recommend the Trail but you definitely need a bike with shocks.

Trail is now complete

Wonderful trail that still isn’t super crowded yet like the Virginia Creeper trail is. Nice trailhead in Bristol with plenty of parking. The Mendota trailhead is an open field so parking is not a problem. We like to ride from Mendota to Bristol to get the climbing over first. It is a drive to Mendota from the interstate but it is a pretty drive. Well worth the trip. You won’t regret it

Run Walk Run

Went from Benhams to Mendota to Bristol, then back to Benhams. The section from Benhams to Mendota is my favorite. It is down the gorge with the stream right near the trail. The section from Benhams to Bristol is more populated with farms and houses. I didn’t have any problems with dogs. The trail was muddy in spots. The trail was pretty empty. There were four cyclists and one walker. It may have been the weather: sleet, light rain, and windy. I really enjoyed it and will go back.

October Fall Ride

We had rode the trail several times from both ends before it was completed. Finally got to ride the last section that was opened and what a delight is was to enjoy, Rode from Mendota to Benhams and back and thoroughly enjoyed it. We definitely think the northern part of the trail is the best part. Thanks to all who worked so diligently to get this trail done.



Wasn’t sure what to expect after reading the reviews, and heard that the entire trail was open. Rode my hybrid with 38 mm tires. First .6 mile was smooth, wide, asphalt. Surface changed to ballast , following natural grade , including roots, old rails and ties. and natural dirt single track. Did follow wooded setting .

Rapidly becoming my favorite trail in the area.

I've had the privilege of enjoying many rides along The Mendota Trail, and each one has been an absolute delight. This trail offers a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty that never fails to leave me in awe.

The trail is accessible to all, making it a wonderful place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

Gorgeous Ride

We biked the trail September 3, 2023 and the center section was complete. We started in Bristol and enjoyed every mile. Shaded, gorgeous scenery, interesting areas to view and we loved the trestles. We were unsure how far the ride was so we turned around at mile 9 and returned to Bristol. This would be stunning with the leaves turning. We’ll be back!

The whole 12.5 miles is open

The entire trail is finished! It’s super shady. We rode from Bristol to Mendota and back. Coming back it’s a steady climb for about 6 miles. Parts of it will beat you up without suspension. There’s a cute store/eatery on the Mendota side. On the Bristol side there are bathrooms that should open soon.

Nice trail

With over 6.5 miles of trail open from the Bristol Va trailhead the Mendota trail is coming along nicely. Great ride that will only get better when completed which should be in 2023 thanks to some new grant money. I highly recommend this ride for one and all.

New northern section

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.

trail closure

Entered from Mendota trailhead. Three new bridges, but trail ended at 2 miles. Gate sign said trail ends. Rough trail but doable.

Trail Closed

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.

can’t wait for completions

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.

Progress proceeding along nicely!

Walked the North end to where Trestle 16 was located. Beautiful area. I can't wait until the whole trail is done!!

A little rough

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.

Great trail for all ages and riders. Will definitely be 5¿ when it's completed. Don't forget to stop by The Store @ Mendota.

Great Trail!!!

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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