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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.
Oct 21 2022. Great colors leaves everywhere. Cool weather. once we hit the gravel -> trail all to myself. Start in the town La Crosse . Where the beginning has pavement and great parking area
It was great as we didn’t see anyone else. We picked up the trail in Laurenceville near New Street. The trail is in fair condition. It is not really crushed rock as grass has grown up in parts. Part of the experience was also seeing a bear. Not anything I wanted to experience though. I’ve done many of the other trail and feel this was a fair rating.
I roundtripped this trail in April ‘21 on a hybrid mountain bike. 35.5 miles, 3:40 time, 9.6mph average speed. The trail was well maintained - grass was cut, large fallen trees were removed, garbage containers were emptied, trail parking is plentiful at the several trailheads. The first few miles out of LaCrosse were paved, the rest is crushed gravel, softer sand, and dirt/grass. I saw only 2 other bikers all day (they were on e-bikes). There definitely is not a lot of use on the trail, there are no tunnels or really long trestles or bridges, and there is not much in terms of trailside amenities that I could tell (restaurants, bed and breakfasts, stores), but if you’re looking for a nice long ride in the woods with nobody else around, this is the trail for you. If it gets connected into a larger/longer trail system, and if that spurs some economic development along the way in terms of businesses catering to bikers and tourists, this current trail could be a great foundation for a future longer trail that could be a bucket-list type of ride.
We were skeptical about riding the Tobacco Heritage Trail after reading several reviews. But what a wonderful surprise our ride turned out to be! The 17 mile trail in southeast Virginia is well groomed and maintained with a surface of crushed stone, grass and pavement. The trail goes through canopied forests, tobacco farms and homey small towns. Our YouTube video of the trail is on our channel, Bent on Bike Trails.
Had a great time. Gradual upgrades.
I've biked this trail twice since August. Love it. The first time I saw three other cyclists, and the second time I saw one. It's all flat or nearly flat. The unpaved part between Brodnax and Lawrenceville varies between nice hardpack and slow sand, but my gravel bike did fine with it, as I'm sure a mountain bike would. The forest on this trail is hardwood trees. It was great to disappear into the woods by myself for a while. I'll be back, even though I live 80 miles away.
Rode round trip starting in Lawrenceville and it was spectacular! We loved every minute of it. We rode with gravel bikes and the surface was perfect and well maintained. We will definitely be going back soon. With Covid restrictions, there wasn't anywhere to eat lunch, but there were plenty of places on our way back home.
OK. The paved portion in nice; the rest of the trail: ugh! Atractive woodland setting, but poorly maintained. Frequent sections were marked by deep sand and loose gravel. Very tiresome to navigate and ride. And not a tobacco plant within miles. LOL
Started from Pamplin in the morning of June 12. Half a mile in, we spotted someone on the trail running away from us. As it turned so that we saw it in profile, we realized that it was a bear. Turned around double quick! Will not be going on this trail again.
Such a pretty trail! Highly recommend. And it was virtually people-free. On the unlaced section it was super quiet, minus the bird sounds. Very peaceful.
Wife and I rode Lawrenceville to La Crosse and returned the following day, staying at the Fairfield Marriott right off the trail. The trail is pretty flat, but more uphill on the way to La Crosse. The trail is in pretty good shape except for a fallen tree from the recent storms. The grass on the trail was recently cut so there was a lot of room to the sides and the center grass was low. The facilities along this trail are excellent—several bathrooms, garbage cans, and benches. The last four miles to La Crosse are paved which made for easy riding. We saw quite a few deer, a snake or two, and a couple of turtles on the journey. I keep telling the snakes to stay away because my wife is afraid of them; but they don’t listen to me.
There really isn’t that much along the trail so take food and water with you. La Crosse and South Hill have all kinds of places to eat, so once you get there you have plenty of choices.
My only complaints are the lack of use of the trail and the need for crushed limestone. The trail is really nice and we really did not see any use. With all that infrastructure people should take advantage of it being there and the towns and the county should try to highlight it more. The trail cover is more of a sandy material, not like the typical crushed limestone. When it is dry you can lose traction pretty easily and you will slide. Be careful with that. There is also an issue with the mile markers. It seems like you go from mile 1 to mile 4 with no 2 or 3.
Drove in from Raleigh area to do the peaceful 18 miles from west of La Crosse to Lawrenceville. Western 4-5 miles is a nice paved section. Railroad St. in Brodnax is a seamless transition to crushed stone section (look for the shareroads to confirm you're on the right path). The crushed stone section is clearly designed with horses in mind, but it is a perfectly fine trail for MTBs. And they have provided 4 fixed latrines (Bless'm!) and a multitude of picnic tables. Ate at The Clubhouse Grill in Lawrenceville (turn right at the abrupt end of the trail, down the hill, quick right). Good comfort food with local atmosphere. And the only eatery (except Hardee's) I could find on the trail.
The only reason I didn't give this trail 5 stars is that I think La Crosse needs to solidify it's standing as the premier trail access point by providing at least a changing hut, or better yet rest rooms and water fountain.
Rode from Evans Creek trailhead to LaCrosse and back. It was after heavy rain, so Trail was smooth, if a little heavy to pedal through. We were the ONLY people on the trail. I’m also a horsewoman, and it looks like a great trail to ride on too! The birding was fantastic. We aren’t fussy, just like a nice ride. Highly recommend. PS: if we cyclists want more rail trails, we need to use trails like this one, and visit local businesses. It might not be perfect for some, but if we want more, we need to show the economic advantages to having these trails!
I mountain biked the entire section from Lacrosse to Lawrencville. Great adventure. You have to go west a mile then back to get that little piece out of the way, then go east!
20 miles for the entire section. Great ride, nothing too bad at all. I am new to biking and did it easily with breaks. First 5 or so miles are paved.... almost a blacktop type surface, then it switches to a hard pressed small gravel.
I did see evidence of horses but no damage to trail. Trail was marked well, but there was a time warp near the end when it said I had 5 miles left, then a mile later I was done. Trail ends in Lawrencville with no pomp and circumstance... it just ends.
Many bridges and creeks and you also go over the Meherrin River.
Only bad comment was the litter and trash the last 1 mile or so. They need to get a team in there and clean it up. It ruins the trip to have that be the last thing you see.
Had seen the photo of the vines growing over the trail and had to make a trip down from Richmond again. High for today was 84 degree and extremely muggy by noon. Probably not the best biking weather but I managed.
The trail condition was good other than being covered with leaves and of course the over-grown grass on the trail. The grass was mowed down but the crushed stone really needs to be dragged and repacked again to really clean it up again. The section with the foreign vine growth was cleaned up when I went through that area (posted photo).
Didn't see one other biker the whole trip and I only saw 6 walkers.
I did an extra 10 miles because 5 miles into the trail I realized I forgot my cellphone/camera so I had to turn around and pedal back to my vehicle.
My rating of the trail this trip is a 4 star. What would make it a 5? If they'd clean up the actual trail and get the grass out of it. And smooth and pack the crushed stone areas. If they added a few water supply areas, it would definitely be a 6 stars! Nice bathrooms but lacking water supplies along the way.
Overall I love this trail and it's worth my time to drive from Richmond to pedal it. I will continue to visit this trial in the future and look forward to more improvements to it.
Rode the trail today from Lawrenceville to Lacrosse and back. The riding surface was fine for me, riding an old road bike with 25mm tires. Could see where some sections could get churned by horse hooves, but even after yesterdays rain, wasn't an issue. Looking forward to when I can ride all the way to Clarksville!
The first 9 miles were awesome. Trail was well maintained an very clean. after mile post 9.5 a few spots on the trail had become overgrown. Between mile post 12 to around 14 the hoof prints were so bad it was like riding on railroad tracks. Great scenery. Parked at Evans creek trail head, very clean & well maintained.
This review applies to the section from LaCrosse eastward. The unpaved section that starts approximately 5 miles east of LaCrosse appears to be heavily used by horses. The hoof prints make this very bumpy and is NOT recommended for biking. I ride on some trails that have not so great conditions but after a mile on the unpaved section I turned around. It was too bone jarring.
I hiked from the trailhead in Lawrenceville to my pickup location in South Hill (~18 miles). The trail technically ends in Lacrosse, but its a short walk down the road to a main commercial hub in South Hill. Like others who have reviewed this hike, I didnt park at the trailhead in Lawrenceville because it was pretty secluded. I felt better parking at the Sunoco gas station around the corner. The trail is well marked and well-maintained. I only ran into 3 other people on the entire trip (I hiked on a Wednesday). There are a few restrooms along the way, but NO WATER STOPS. Remember to bring plenty of water with you. The trail goes behind a gas station in Brodnax where you can refill. I hiked in late June and there were a few areas of the trail that went through low, wet and cool areas that were pretty "buggy". Remember to bring your bug spray as the mosquitoes and Mayflies were pretty bad. The trail is paved from Brodnax to LaCrosse (great for bikes, but hard on your feet if wearing hiking boots). There are signs along the way with historical information that I found to be very interesting. There isn't much in the way of scenic views, but the trail does offer peace and quiet.
We started in Lawrenceville & went to La Crose and back. Total of 39 miles. There is parking at the trail head but nothing there so we felt better leaving the car around the corner in the lot next to Hardee's and across from the convince store so people were around. Make sure you take everything you will need because there isn't anything for a long 17 miles. The trail was soft and sandy like which took a lot out of us by the time we got back. Our fault for not preparing for it. The paved section at the was great for a break and there is a store there to stock up for the return trip. Great views along the way and nice restrooms. This is one of the tougher trails we have done but well worth it. Just be prepared and you should really enjoy this trail.
The pin for the Tobacco Heritage trail needs to be moved to the intersection of Rt 46 and Rt 58. The name Lawrenceville isn't even on your big map! I used to live there and have been away for 12 years. Am an avid bicyclist and am looking forward to riding these trails! When I first moved to Roanoke in 1975, biking was very dangerous, there was nowhere to ride. Now that seems to be changing and I'm looking forward to riding the trails. We stay in Williamsburg and go to Richmond often. So I hope to see these map changes soon, so others won't be confused. I lived in Southside VA for 20 years, and am glad the space is being put to good use. Thanks.
The newly-opened 13-mile section of the Tobacco Heritage Trail between Brodnax and Lawrenceville should be popular with runners due to the soft, sandy surface that's easy on the feet and joints. There's little or no post-run soreness that one typically experiences on harder surfaces. Although a railroad grade, there are several detectable rises and descents to break the monotony. Mile markers are placed every 1/2 mile. The trail managers stage several annual running events on the trail, including a half-marathon in spring and a 15K in the fall.
Hybrid and mountain bikers will also enjoy the scenic path, with its tall stands of pine, hickory, and birch. Skinny-tired bikes are best used on the paved section between La Crosse and Brodnax, or on the lightly-travelled roads.
The trail roughly parallels U.S. 58, the iconic highway that runs the entire length of southern Virginia. Tourists may want to pick up a copy of "Beaches to Bluegrass," a travel guide to U.S. 58 by local author Joe Tennis. Lodging is available in nearby South Hill, along with a B&B in the quaint town of Victoria, which also hosts a separate one-mile section of the trail.
I rode this trail end to end from Lawrenceville to Lacrosse and back on 9/5/15. The eastern 2/3 of the trail is unpaved. According to my GPS, in the westbound direction there is a long gradual uphill climb from the bridge over the Meherrin River all the way to Broadnax and Lacrosse. As others have said - traversing the unpaved section is much easier on a mountain bike than a road bike. I ride a Specialized CrossTrail with 700 x 38 tires and front suspension. The fork helped to navigate the numerous branches (some up to 6 inches in diameter) that had fallen across the trail from a storm the day before I rode. Given the wet gravel, I experienced a little bit of "wheel suck" on my rear tire, but otherwise had no difficulty riding all 38.5 continuous miles (roundtrip).
At Broadnax there is a short on-road section before the paved part of the trail continues. On the return trip I stopped at the gas station here to refill my bottles with Gatorade. It's always nice to have at least one gas station or convenience store along a trail route.
Overall - this trail is really nice. The interpretive signs are interesting, the mile markers are clear -and there are multiple opportunities to use restrooms, picnic tables, and bear-resistant trash cans. There is a lot of shade along the entire route - but the tree canopy is definitely thicker on the eastern, unpaved section. It is also very quiet on the eastern end. I saw two deer, two pheasants, and lots of squirrels, birds and butterflies.
If the section from Broadnax to Lawrenceville is paved I imagine that more people will ride it. Hopefully it's quiet character will remain. There is an extensive route ultimately planned for the Tobacco Heritage Trail. If this comes to fruition, I hope that other bicycle tourists such as myself (drove 100 miles to get here) will give the region's economy a boost - and stay at a hotel or eat at local restaurants.
My wife and I visited this trail mid-week in late June. We had just completed four days of riding on our tandem mountain bike on the VA Capital, NC Neuse and NC American Tobacco trails, and this was the final trail on our way home to Pa. Entering the town of La Crosse was a real treat. Quiet and clean with a beautiful trailhead. We parked in what we hoped was a lot for trail users and unloaded our bike. Funny thing, there was not a single car in the lot with a bike rack! We decided to head east towards Lawrenceville. The first few miles went by quickly and was beautifully paved. Saw four walkers. The next parking lot we encountered had several county workers, but no cars. In the distance I saw the beginning of the unpaved part of the trail. No problem, we have the correct tires, right? Unfortunately we were not prepared for a soft surface with deep hoof marks covering every square foot of the trail for the next six miles. My wife was ready to call it quits, but we were driving 1000 plus miles to ride these trails, and I wasn't ready just yet to call it a day. Fortunately the surface got harder further down the trail and the rest of the way was quite a bit easier. We passed probably a dozen worker trying to stop the advancing grass and weeds. No bikers! Ate lunch in Lawrenceville and retraced our route. Even saw three other bikers, but no other trail users. Upon our return to La Crosse we were curious to find out when the rest of the trail would be paved. Turns out the answer is probably never. What a shame! No wheel chairs, rollerbladers handicapped cyclists or families with pull-behind child carts will find this trail comfortable. ( at least the day we were there) This trail should have had at least 50 cyclists and their families on it, instead it had 5. Other trails that are paved make provision for equestrian users by have a unpaved path adjacent to the paved. Surely some common ground can be reached to make this entire trail more enjoyable for all to use. The not so middle aged Pa. Tandem Team (66 and 69)
My husband and I rode from Lawrenceville to the Meherrin Bridge for a total of 13.5 miles. We rode our Hybrid Bikes which were perfect for the surface. There must have been a storm a day or so before as there were a few trees down. We just picked up the bikes and proceeded along the trail. We did not see another human being the entire ride but were lucky enough to see a Red Tail Hawk and a family of Deer. We would recommend that you do this route in the morning before it gets too hot as it is not shaded in a lot of areas and the abundant sunshine made for a very hot ride. We will check out Brodnax to LaCrosse next time. The Trail is very well done and we enjoyed the peacefulness and the scenery.
Please lave this section of trail. Horses are always tearing tearing it up after a rain and are deficating in the trail. If you want to ride a horse, take a ride in a pasture or somewhere where others aren't forced to ride or walk around feces and torn up trail.
My first exposure on 5/7/15 and I liked it. Starting from the LaCrosse lot off Main Street it was easy access coming south down I-85. The trail starts with 4 miles paved. A slight uphill/downhill bias fluctuates regularly. Three little towns in the first 18.5 miles west of Lawrenceville. You may not see anyone. If quiet suits you, ride for it.
We just visited this trail again (March 2015), hopeful that Google maps was accurate in depicting the trail out of South Boston extending 20+ miles to Sutherlin/Ringold. The South Boston portion is still a short 2 miles, and there's no signs of extending the trail anytime soon. It's a pleasant ride, but short. We explored the whole region looking for signs of more trail, and ended up in Sutherlin, where the trail is open for 7-8 miles to Ringold. The Sutherlin-Ringold portion was a nice ride with a slight uphill grade. It would be great if the entire Tobacco Heritage Trail would be open for riders to enjoy!
We rode from La Crosse to Lawerenceville and back around 35 miles 10-31-14. The trail is well marked, cool bridges and views. We stopped in Lawerenceville for lunch at Pino's and it was a nice little place and a good recharge for the return trip. It was Halloween and our waitress was the gangster of Pino's. Nice lady!
The middle of the trail isn't as packed and is a little slower than the ends, we had most of the trail to ourselves. We will do this again.
On Tuesday I rode from Lawrenceville to the Meherrin bridge and back, a total of 14 miles. The trail was in great shape with lots of interpretive signs, nice scenery and leftover railroad artifacts. Other than one pedestrian near the trailhead, I didn't see any other trail users.
On my way home in the car, I stopped in Brodnax to check out conditions there. The old A&D railway station is still standing.
Here is my Flickr album of my trip: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jhuber1111/sets/72157644817057010/
My husband and I rode for a total of 7 miles starting from the Lawrenceville end with our daughter running it. We all had a wonderful time, the trail is very well maintained with several picnic tables scattered along the way. The trail was basically flat with a little rise from the creek. What a great thing to have so close to home.
Did this ride a week ago on a quiet weekday, starting in La Crosse, running to Lawrenceville, and then back, for a total of just over 34 miles. I had the trail to completely to myself. Very much enjoyed the first 4 miles out of La Crosse, which were paved. The rest of the trail was fine gravel, with alot of soft spots, which required some extra effort. But the path is relatively flat, with some beautiful bridges and nice interpretive signs about the local history and birding. Once in Lawrenceville the trail abruptly ended and the trail head was not very robust. La Crosse, however, had ample parking and staging, and there are high quality bathrooms scattered along the trail. Glad I had plenty of water and snacks with me, but highly enjoyed the ride
tried this on 4/4, and it was surprisingly challenging. the "crushed stone" as found under a search by this website are quite soft: my 32c hybrid tires (supposedly ok; found under a search here for "bike", not "mountain bike") sank into a lot of resistance. i was forced to pedal 1-3 speeds lower than i would be on a paved trail, and i could hardly say there were notable ascents on this one. i don't recall over the dozens of trails i've been on being so happy to be done after just 10 miles.
the setting is pretty nice and rural, but around the 4 mile mark from the eastern terminus in lawrenceville there was a sign across the path that the trail was closed. strange, because the trail didn't appear to be in any worse shape for as far as i could see beyond that point.
Excellent trail. Very peaceful ride today. The trail now has a new asphalt surface from the western terminus to about 4 miles eastbound. The next 5.5 miles are smooth crushed stone to the bridge over the Meherrin river. It looks as though the remaining 8-9 miles to Lawrenceville are being prepared for completion soon. I highly recommend this trail.
The trails are very horse friendly with the rock dust footing and are used very often by horses. Thanks for the great trail and hope it stays horse friendly. Have heard talk of asphalt being used to redo the trail hope this isnt true cause thats not a very horse friendly surface for the horse or the rider. Asphalt hurts to fall on if its from the back of a horse or a simple trip from your own two feet. Again Thanks for maken a great riden trail and hopefully keeping the natural look of the trail.
As an avid biker, I have ridden some of the best trails in Virginia, from Lynchberg and Farmville to Virginia Beach and Damascus, where the Virginia Creeper Trail is one of my favourite rides. I have ridden the Tobacco Heritage trail between LaCrosse and Brodnax twice: the first time a few years ago when it was little more than a cowpath, and more recently last fall after it had been 'cleaned up' a little. When this trail is completed and connects up with other trails in the area, I expect a very nice ride from end to end. I do hope though that there will more 'cleaning up' coming, as I found the present LaCrosse-to-Brodnax leg quite rough and in need of a better surface. The rest area benches at the mid-point should be painted white, as they were so hot with the sun shining on the black paint that I couldn't sit on them. I find North America is becoming more 'biker-friendly' every day and efforts like yours are much appreciated. Keep up the good work. I'll be back........
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