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In Southern Virginia, an exciting regional trail project has been taking shape for over a decade. The Tobacco Heritage Trail will one day span 160 miles, connecting the counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, and Mecklenburg. Currently, segments of the planned route—totaling 22.7 miles—are open in all but one of these counties. A portion of the trail is also part of the larger East Coast Greenway, a growing network of multiuse trails connecting 15 states and 450 cities and towns on a 3,000-mile route between Maine and Florida.
Tobacco and cotton made this region prosperous, and the arrival of the railroad here in 1890 transformed the towns along its route from quaint villages to economic hubs. Visitors can now walk, bike, or ride horseback through the old railway corridor, enjoying historical buildings, scenic natural areas, and cultural amenities in the area’s rural towns. Equestrians will find horse-mounting benches and hitching posts in the stretch be-tween Lawrenceville and Brodnax.
We’ll focus this write-up on the longest contiguous segment, a 16.6-mile stretch between Lawrenceville and La Crosse, though four other disconnected sections of the trail are open: 1.8 miles in Victoria, 2.6 miles in South Boston, 1.1 miles in Boydton, and 0.6 mile in Kenbridge. The trail is crushed stone, except a 1.3-mile section in LaCrosse that is paved.
Begin your excursion in central Lawrenceville at the trailhead off South Street; from there, you’ll head west on the trail. As you leave town behind, the trail is surrounded by forest and farmlands, setting the tone for most of the journey. Enjoy the quiet and keep your eyes open for interpretative signage about the history of the area. You may even wish to pack a lunch, as there are trailside wooded spots with picnic tables for alfresco dining.
In 7 miles, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a pretty 300-foot bridge across the Meherrin River. In another 6 miles, you’ll reach Brodnax’s Main Street. You won’t find many restaurants in town, but a gas station just off the trail sells snacks and drinks. As you travel through town, you’ll be on quiet Railroad Street; outside of town, you’ll be back on trail.
Much of the last leg of the route traverses a lovely tree-lined corridor before you reach trail’s end in 3.6 miles. You might catch a glimpse of wild turkey, deer, rabbits, or other wildlife along this stretch. And, as you approach La Crosse’s Main Street, keep an eye out for the cherry-red antique caboose.
Lawrenceville: Parking is available at the Evans Creek Trailhead. From South Hill, take US 58 east toward Lawrenceville for about 10 miles and turn left on Evans Creek Road; the trailhead will appear on the right after about a mile.
La Crosse: A trailhead with parking is available at 115 South Main Street. Parking is also available at 239 High St.
Victoria: Park at Victoria Railroad Park at 1485 Firehouse Road.
South Boston: The trail is best reached by traveling north on US 501 from downtown, turning left onto Edmund Street and left onto Railroad Avenue. A parking lot for the trail is on the right (Cotton Mill Park at 196 Railroad Ave).
Boydton: A trailhead is available at 564 Washington Street.
Kenbridge: There is a trailhead with parking on E. 6th Street.
Brodnax: 3000 Evans Creek Rd & 1950 Regional Airport Rd.
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