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What are the eight best bicycle trails in Virginia?

By John Singleton on January 21, 2022

Cycling is a healthy, economical, and eco-friendly sport. Regular cycling means regular physical activity, which helps protect you from many serious health conditions. Cycling is also a comfortable exercise that allows you to build up intensity slowly to fit your needs. If you have knee or ankle issues that prevent you from running or walking, biking may be the right activity for you. Thirty minutes a day is a small price to pay for lifelong health.

Bicycling is a fun, low-impact exercise with many physical and emotional benefits, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Decreased body fat
  • Increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Stronger bones
  • Improved posture and coordination
  • Increased cardiovascular fitness

What are the 8 best bike trails in Virginia?

Virginia is a beautiful place for cycling, with many beautiful bike trails.  Starting closest to home and moving outward, here we go:

1. Beaverdam Park Multi-Use Trail

This 4-mile loop Multi-Use Trial at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester County is ideal for hiking or mountain biking. It offers great views of the reservoir with bird watching, fishing, and canoeing. No gas motors are allowed.

2. Capital Trail

This paved trail stretches for 52 miles, from Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom along the James River and State Route 5. It includes wonderful views of the Chickahominy River and goes past many historic homes.

This trail is a great ride for history aficionados because it passes along Revolutionary War battlefields, an estate once owned by President John Tyler, the Charles County Courthouse that dates back to 1730, and then ends near the Jamestown Settlement.

The majority of the trail is mostly level, but it does have a few small hills and one large bridge. It offers plenty of room and plenty of places to meet a shuttle ride or extra cars.

3. The Washington and Old Dominion Regional Park Trail

The 45-mile paved W&OD Trail is ideal for hiking, walking, and cycling. It stretches from the Potomac River to the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trail has a lot more elevation changes than the Capital Trail. It also passes through more urban areas and is a great ride.

4. Chesapeake and Ohio Trail

This path sprawls 184.5 miles, the whole length of the C&O National Historic Park. Riders can go from Georgetown in Washington, D.C., all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. It was originally the towpath for a canal that is mostly filled today. The towpath is not paved and it can get a bit rough, but the scenery is gorgeous.

5. Tobacco Heritage Trail

This 17-mile trail in Southern Virginia connects the Lawrenceville, Brodnax, and La Crosse communities. It travels through wooded forests and picnic areas, and across the Meherrin River on a 300-foot bridge. The surface is a combination of pavement and crushed stone. Park at the Evans Creek Trailhead.

6. Heart of Appalachia Bike Route

This is Virginia’s only official bike route. Located in Southwestern Virginia, it consists of 128 miles of trail systems in four different counties – Bland, Tazewell, Russell, and Wise. This route offers gorgeous mountain views, many natural wonders, and exciting detours. It has paved roads, gravel roads, and single tracks.

7. Chessie Nature Trail

Located in Lexington, this seven-mile trail follows the markers of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. For the first three miles, the trail runs along the beautiful Maury River, with farmlands and wooded areas after that. It passes a steep cliff in the final mile. This trail is also popular with walkers and hikers. Regularly used by W&L students and VMI Cadets, it is shady and well maintained.

8. High Bridge Trail

This trail runs from Burkeville to Pamplin City. Traveling through small communities, it is 31 miles long and ideally suited for cycling. As High Bridge Trail was once a rail bed, it is wide, level, and generally flat with a surface of finely crushed limestone. The centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River. High Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

What makes cycling a wonderful family activity?

Cycling is fun and great exercise for all ages. It only takes two to four hours a week to generally improve your health. Because it’s low-impact, cycling causes less strain and injury than many other exercises.  Cycling uses all the major muscle groups, and it doesn’t require high levels of physical skill. Cycling is a fun way to get fit outdoors that the whole family can enjoy together.

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