Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail


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Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Facts

States: Virginia
Counties: Amherst, Nelson
Length: 6.9 miles
Trail end points: Patrick Henry Highway/SR 151 (Piney River) and Tye River Depot
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Ballast, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017586
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Description

The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail offers a quintessential rail-trail experience in central Virginia, midway between Lynchburg and Charlottesville (less than an hour’s drive from each). The trail is an easy, picturesque ride through a beautiful, natural setting with plentiful opportunities to see unique historical sites. The Piney and Tye rivers are constant companions, and you’ll cross five bridges on the seven-mile route, including a photo-worthy covered bridge at Naked Creek.

Begin your journey at the northern trailhead in Piney River, where a renovated depot serves as a visitor center and there is a new Historic Railroad Park to explore. The rail bed on which the rail-trail now rests was originally built in 1915 to haul timber to local mills. Along your journey, you’ll see other relics of this past, such as rail cars and a railroad weighing scale on display. The trail ends at the Tye River Depot, but note that there is no exit at this southern end; trail-goers will need to turn around and head back to Piney River.

The trail is primarily crushed stone and much of the way is wooded, offering a cool respite even during the hot summer months. White-tailed deer and other wildlife are plentiful and, during the autumn hunting season, trail users should wear blaze-orange clothing. The trail also passes through farm country and open fields. Come in the spring to see wildflowers sprinkling color into the lush green backdrop.

Parking and Trail Access

To access the Piney River trailhead (at 3124 Patrick Henry Highway), take US 29 to State Route 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56, and travel 5 miles to turn left onto SR 151. After 2 miles, you'll see the trailhead sign on left (3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River). Parking for cars and horse trailers is available, as well as portable toilets.

To access the Roses Mill trailhead, take US 29 to SR 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56 and go abut 4 miles to left turn onto Roses Mill Road/SR 674). The trailhead is about 1.4 miles farther (around milepost 1.8 of the trail).

Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Reviews

As the trail goes by a former titanium mine, that is now an EPA Superfund site, I found the lack of nature kind of creepy. Also the first part has lots of fences, whether to keep you out or something else in, I’m not sure.

For a person just starting out, this was a great way to get some miles in without killing my knees on hills. Very pretty. VERY FLAT!!

Flat, easy, and wear a swimsuit! The river is beautiful and begs for a swim. Note: there’s been some trail maintenance in the first mile (probably related to 6 weeks of rain), and the gravel is a bit deep in some sections. We have hybrids and were fine, just required a little attention.


Nice nearly flat trail along the Piney River. Simple out and back for those that want an easy workout or have children and don't want to deal with crowds. Secluded and easy to navigate. I recommend for those that are nearby.

I drove here from Culpeper VA. Not sure I would go this distance for this ride again, but it was a good day for the wife and I to get some miles in the legs early in the season.

We were very happy with this ride! Great trail for families with young children. Our 12-year old had fun and we were able to easily pull our daughter along in a bicycle trailer since the path is a nice smooth surface the entire way. Very scenic, saw lots of wildlife, and was able to stop and let the kids play in the river at the end!

Just getting back on my bicycle and wanted a non-hilly ride to encourage my efforts at getting some exercise. The trailhead was well-marked and lots of parking. A pleasant ride as most of the trail is shaded. The scenery is lovely with the river adjacent. We went on a weekday morning and there were very few others on the trail. The just-under 14 miles was a perfect first ride.

Family friendly trail. Really nice how it is right beside the Piney river!

What a way to spend a Saturday morning in April. As another reviewer stated it is a hidden gem in the mountains. The trail is relatively flat, there is one slight grade that is very doable for any rider. My only complaint is that i wished i lived closer to ride it more often. If you are staying in the Charlottesville area you should definitely give this one a try. You won't be disappointed in the beauty.

biked this 10-09-2016, in morning.....Peacefull,.quiet,beautifull Piney River views, only 2 other bikers,nice packed gravel trail,easy riding, i did it with my hybrid w/700x 35 tires,no problem, but wider tire footprint would be better,close to Blue Ridge Parkway....trail clean and well maintained..last 5 miles is one way (you need to return on same path) Abit isolated, so be sure to have a pal, or spare tube/kit/.etc, just in case...highly recommend!

Initially hard to find using Google maps app, but well worth the persistence to locate the trailhead. Very level, well-constructed and maintained path. Plenty of benches along the way for rest stops and river views. There are even a few places along the trail where it's safe to enter the water. The trail has markers every 1/4 of a mile, so you know precisely how far you have gone.

Initially hard to find using Google maps app, but well worth the persistence to locate the trailhead. Very level, well-constructed and maintained path. Plenty of benches along the way for rest stops and river views. There are even a few places along the trail where it's safe to enter the water. The trail has markers every 1/4 of a mile, so you know precisely how far you have gone.

This trail is fantastic. Made it to the end and back with my 11yr old son and had no issues. The trail is in perfect condition and is crushed rock the whole way. There are no excessive gradients that would cause the beginner to fret or sweat. Plenty of great places to check out and swim, fish or hang out. We did come across two COPPERHEAD SNAKES - Beware climbing around any rocky river banks! We also saw frogs, a 3.5' black snake and deer. The path is probably a total of 80% shaded by the trees which is also nice.

This rail trail was just what I needed! I biked the 15 mile round trip (backtracking a couple of times) solo on a beautiful 70 degree day. I saw about 20 people, most biking but some jogging or walking dogs. It was great to get off the trail and go down to (and in some cases into) the Piney River. The trail was extremely well maintained and easy to ride. Benches were plentiful and in most cases provided great views of the river. The only bathroom was a single port-a-potty at the Roses Mill trail head but it was very clean. This was a beautiful quiet ride and it was worth the drive down from Waynesboro. I will be back, probably in the fall looking for great colors. Thanks to whoever maintains the trail!

My family took a short hike on the trail..2 mile round trip...We took our two dogs with us..both are pomerainians..When we got back to the car my wife remove over 15 ticks from one dog alone.. the dog stayed on the trail most of the time but every once in a while would go to the side area. Beautiful hike,next time we will bike the trail..BTW there are no rest rooms at the trailhead

My husband and I rode this on our tandem on a Sunday evening with thunderstorms threatening. Our only companions were 5 dear. Trail was in excellent shape - no wash-outs even with all the heavy rains we have had this spring. The mile markers every 1/4 mile were a surprise but would be good for walkers. The only caution I'd offer is that there was a loose dog at the house by the Rose Mill parking area. He came our way but stopped before getting to us - we had our spray ready! The first section (less then 2 miles) would be nice for families with young children - close to the water and picnic tables. It really does end without an exit - so be prepared to turn around and ride all the way back to either parking area.

The rivers were impressive and made a great riding companion, they were very blue green for Halloween. For a relatively short ride, good exercise and it was the perfect way to start the day at wintergreen. Quick ride, stop by the brewery and check into the inn!

We entered via the Piney River Trailhead. Nice trail - Flat, Easy cycling, Nice river views, well maintained.I think our favorite part was riding next to a farm with beautiful rolling hills and cows (picture perfect bucolic setting). We went with our 14 mo son on a stem mounted baby bike seat (ibert). It was 3 hrs round trip with lunch at the end of the trail and a 20 min splash session in the river). Most of the good benches with views and good river access are closer to the piney river trailhead. We will definitely do this one again.

Heard good things so I biked all (14) miles this morning in about an hour. I loved it and can't recommend highly enough. Very easy trail to walk, run or bike and in awesome condition. Some amazing vistas and photo spots so take the camera if you like. The covered bridge is not to be missed! Nelson County has many beautiful places to enjoy and this is certainly one. Have fun!

My wife and I rode the trail June 20 in hot humid conditions. Out side of the weather the ride was great. From mile marker 2 to marker 2.75 there is no need to peddle. In our excitement we never thought about the uphill peddle in our return. The grade was was very soft. The trail itself was great. Interesting history and there is access to the river to cool off and plenty of benches to sit.I would highly recommend. The ride with stops and lunch took about 3 hours.

We rode this trail on April 24th, 2015. The weather was absolutely perfect. The scenery along the trail is beautiful. The bridges over the river are really nice. The signage explaining the historical significance of the trail and the wildlife are excellent. We really enjoyed the reconstruction of the railroad car weighing system at the end of the trail. It took us about 2 hours to do the 14 miles. The surface is crushed stone but it is packed so hard with a rock bed underneath it is very easy riding. Mostly flat with a few mild grades. Having done a lot of trails, it is certainly evident that this trail is very well maintained and a lot of time has been spent keeping it that way. Will definitely come back.

Rode this trail January 17, 2015.

Rode this trail last spring. It was well maintained crushed gravel. We saw only a couple of cyclists and a few walkers. Like others, cell service can be hard to come by and I don't recall water on the trail. Didn't see any place close to eat. Ride to the end and enjoy the railroad exhibit. Lots of shade. The trail runs near the river and by farms. To locate, just head to Piney River and you can't miss it.

Had a great walk. Very scenic for the stretch along the Piney River. Easy, flat, scenic. Looks like great water for fishing along trail, easy access to water.

I am a new cyclist and am getting my 10 year old son interested in biking as well. We live in Charlottesville and it was a pleasant ride to this trail, took about 90 mins. The trail is well marked, well kept and wide. I believe this to be the flattest land in all of Nelson county. The views were fantastic and we saw less than 15 people on the whole 6.9 mile trail. There is one road crossing on a rural road that isn't very busy. My son and I were able to do the whole trail fairly easily. There is minimal grade on this trail. If you have a chance to ride this trail it's worth it. Plenty of picnic tables and wonderful views of the Tye river. Bring your camera. The minor drawback is cell service is very minimal to non-existent in some places on this rural trail.

We have ridden this trail several times in the last two years. It was severly washed out last year and we were hesitant to ride again, wondering if it could possibly be repaired. We were pleasantly surprised at the improvements that have been made since we last rode. All the washed out areas were repaired and the grass along the edges was mowed, fresh fine gravel had been applied to a smoothed out trail. At the end of the trail they have installed an historic exhibit of a rail road scale which was rather interesting. Those who have worked on this trail deserve huge Kudos! Thanks for keeping this trail in great riding condition for all of us.

We rode this trail earlier this month and for such a short trail, it was fun, next to the water and beautiful. If you're nearby, this is definitely one of the nicest rail-trails around.

Elevation Map

Totally loved this trail and will be doing it again! It was one of the best rides I've ever taken on a public trail. Did it during the week so it wasn't crowded - only passed three couples on my ride. No major hills and excellent for beginners and families with kids new to biking.

Beautiful trail! very scenic meandering along the river. Lots of spots to rest except at the end / turn around. Looks like its also a big fishing trail. Lot's of riders taking rods and fishing along the way. Only thing I would recommend is a bench or table at the end.

I rode this great lovely, trail again 5/3/14 to see exactly how it ends near Tye Depot. This Blue Ridge Railroad branched off of the main line railroad which crosses the Tye River on a high bridge just east of Rt. 29. So a bit east the Rt. 29 bridge the Rail Line heads up hill to where it split off the main line. The trail now ends with a gate and a display of some Rail Road equipment. I guess they don't have the right-a-way to go all the way to the old connection which is just a short distance ahead. There is no exit. You have to turnaround. Youker

Prefer the walking surface to asphalt or dirt. Still had some slick spots, but a beautiful trail, nice walk and can't wait to see the restored building!!

We began our ride from the trailhead at Piney River. This was a very nice ride with changing scenery the whole way, river on one side, farms on the other. Most of the trail follows along the Tye River, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. There are a few bridges along the way that break up the gravel trail, which is why the river alternates sides of the trail. For the first couple of miles the trail is moderately downhill (which means the last few miles are moderately uphill if you ride the entire trail), but other than that is a fairly level ride. It starts out as pavement, but the trail is mostly gravel. We highly recommend this trail if you are looking for a short ride with plenty of scenery.

My first rails to trails trip in a long time and it was great! Beautiful,lush scenery and trail in good shape. Really enjoyed the route along the rivers and the railway relics displayed in 2 spots. At the trail end one should step around the gate and view the weighing station (I guess). Overall, a great trail; would do again in other seasons to get full flavor of wonderful Nelson Co. Virginia. And not an advertisement, but go to at least one vineyard or brewery while you are in the area--just plain good stuff!

Had a wonderful midday family bike ride and picnic by the river. I wish there were picnic tables on the section east of Rose Mill Rd, but other than that the trail was beautiful and easy riding, even for are daughter (11). We will definitely be going back.

What a great place to begin our tradition of biking with our two young sons. The trail was in great condition, and my boys were able to gain confidence and feel the freedom of riding a bike in a place other than our neighborhood. As expected, there was washout between mile markers 5 and 6 and we were grateful this fact was clearly marked on the trail. Still, at 5.5 miles one way, it was a perfect first ride for our family. The boys loved calling out the 1/4 markers as we passed them! We will definitely be back!

My wife and I rode this trail 6/5/2113 to celebrate my 61st birthday. It was a very nice ride. The last mile or so was rough as it was washed out in places by storms recently but we went to the end which stops at a locked gate. There were benches and tables along the way. Trailhead on rt151 has portable toilets and good parking. Stayed at cabins at Crabtree falls so we could hike falls trail next day. Good trip!

I biked this lovely trail today March 31, 2012 starting at Piney River Parking lot off Rt 151 which has a porta potty. The surface is fine crushed limestone and it runs along the lovely Tye River with lots of small water falls. However it is more than 5.5 miles to Rt 29. More like 6 1/4. The trail continues on but I only went about 100 yards past the Rt29 twin bridges. You can not access here since it is very steep. The description says it goes on to Tye Depot but I do not know how far down that is. A sign near Roses Mill says there is no exit at the east end. Youker

This is a pleasant trail - very level and surfaced with crushed stone. The views of the river are very relaxing. This is not a thigh buster but more akin to a pleasant walk. We rode side by side and conversed most of the ride.

However, we did not think to bring blaze orange. There are signs at the gate suggesting to wear blaze orange during hunting season. Since it was a busy weekend mid day, and we were an hour away from home we decided to use the trail anyway. (Certainly a bad idea).

Most others using the trail were wearing blaze orange. We did not hear shots or see hunters while riding but we did see one hunter entering the area as we left (around 2:00 PM). Much of the trail has posted signs on either side. But clearly wearing blaze orange is a good idea.

So I thought I would post this note to others so that they might not forget the dangers of hunting season and the precautions one should take.

Returned to this trail a few weeks back and was thrilled to see that more had been added to it! I cannot wait to see what comes next! The trail is beautiful!

This trail has been extended past the Tye River and under U.S. 29. Although it was a little washed out in places because of Spring flooding, the trail has been surfaced with crushed limestone and several bridges have been constructed over waterways.

I have been riding on the Blackwater Creek bike trail in Lynchburg for years, and I just found out about the Blue Ridge Railway Trail today. Are there other bike trails in Central Virginia?

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