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RECREATION PLANNING

Virginia's State Trails

In response to Virginia Code § 10.1-204 and the growing demand for trails and related coordination and technical assistance, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation worked with a Greenways and Trails Task Force to develop a statewide trail action plan. This plan includes working with local partners to develop statewide trunkline trails that form the framework for connecting regional and community trails.

Statewide Trunkline Trails under development

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
East Coast Greenway
James River Heritage Trail
Beaches to Bluegrass Trail
Great Eastern Trail

In addition, the state offers a variety of trail experiences on state lands

Virginia's State Parks offer more than 460 miles of trails, many of which connect to the extensive trail and gated roads system in adjacent state and national forests. High Bridge Trail State Park offers 33 miles of adventure on a former railway donated by Norfolk Southern Corporation. Norfolk Southern also donated abandoned rail corridor for New River Trail State Park, a 57-mile rail-trail stretching from Pulaski to Galax in Southwest Virginia. The Wilderness Road Trail in Lee County joins the Wilderness Road State Park with the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and uses portions of an abandoned railroad. In addition to hiking trails, many parks have trails for horseback riding as well as trails designed specifically for mountain biking.

Virginia's Department of Transportation has a number of shared-use paths that run parallel to major roads. Since these are entirely within VDOT right-of-way, they are built and maintained by VDOT. Many of these paths, like the one beside the Fairfax County Parkway, are located in Northern Virginia, where bicycle plans have been in place for many years.

Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, within its wildlife management area system, maintains numerous access trails for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related outdoor recreation. These trails are also open for hiking and horseback riding, although it is not recommended during hunting season, except on Sundays. The popular Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, a thematic driving trail that links approved sites across the state, celebrates the diversity of Virginia's natural habitat.

The Virginia Department of Forestry also maintains many trails in 17 state forests. The Zoar State Forest trails, the Willis River hiking and canoe trails in the Cumberland State Forest, and the connector between the Cumberland and Appomattox-Buckingham State Forests are some of the more popular trails in use. Most state forests contain hiking trails (54 total miles) and an infrastructure of forest roads and trails, amounting to approximately 260 miles that are avail- able for use by trail enthusiasts. Horseback riders have recognized the potential that this system of gated roads offers, and have worked with the state forester to build and maintain a system of horse trails in the Cumberland State, Appomattox-Buckingham, and Prince Edward state forests. Mountain bicyclists also use many of the same forest management roads as trails.