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The Richmond and Danville Rail-Trail follows part of the right-of-way of the old railroad of the same name, an important transportation corridor for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The railroad linked the Confederate capital of Richmond with Southside, the area between the James River and the North Carolina border, where hospitals, prisons and supply depots were located. Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Army took the route of this railroad line when they retreated from Richmond near the end of the war. They also used it to carry war supplies and Union prisoners.
Today, 5.5 miles of this historical corridor, which eventually became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system, is the scenic Richmond and Danville Rail-Trail. Also called the Ringgold Trail, the trail opened in January 2001. It travels past farmlands and through light woods, providing a flat route for a walk or bike ride in the rural Virginia countryside on the outskirts of Danville.
Start your trip at the western trailhead, and in only 1 mile you will reach a wetland area with prime waterfowl watching. The ride is comfortable for bicyclists and easy for hikers of all ages; it's also wheelchair accessible. You can brush up on your Civil War history as well: plaques along the way detail significant events that happened near the rail-trail. If you're looking for evidence of the trail's railroading past, the eastern trailhead has a restored railroad depot and an old red caboose.
From Danville, take US 58 east for about 2.5 miles then head north on State Route 734/Ringgold Depot Road for 3 miles. The western trailhead is located on the south side of Ringgold Depot Road.
To access the eastern trailhead, continue east on US 58 for an additional 3.75 miles then head north on Hackberry Road/State Route 656 for 3.25 miles. The trailhead is west of Hackberry Road/Kerns Church Road near the intersection of Kerns Mill Road.
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