A sampling of National Recreation Trails in the news or recently designated. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.
Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths.
Search all of Virginia's designated National Recreation Trails in the Online NRT Database
Massanutten Mountain Trail in southwest Virginia
Algonkian Regional Park Sanctuary Trail — Located in Sterling, this 2-mile loop trail runs through more than 30 acres of wetlands on Lowe's Island along the Potomac River. These wetlands support a variety of flora and fauna, and allow trail users to observe wildlife, such as Bald Eagles, in a unique setting. This trail is a spur of the Potomac Heritage Trail and will eventually include observation platforms and interpretive signage to enhance the trail user experience (designated 2004).
Buffalo Creek Nature Area — This three-mile trail system is known as both a recreational and educational resource. The unique setting is ideal for educating visitors about native plant species, such as the dwarf ginseng which has qualified for registry with the Virginia Native Plant Society and the Society of American Foresters. The area also includes a looping trail system which is ideal for year-round walking and hiking activities.
DeHart Mountain Trail — Located on the north side of DeHart Mountain, this backcountry hiking trail extends over 5 miles, connecting ancient footpaths, waterfalls, caves, and an isolated pioneer homesite. Hosting more than 400 plant species, this pristine setting is ideal for hiking and wildlife observation. In addition to its scenic and cultural features, the trail is used for environmental education tours, which draw school children from throughout the area.
Young volunteers on the Rivanna Trail (photo by Diana Foster)
Fairfax County Cross County Trail — This 41-mile urban trail/rail-trail serves as the county's primary multi-use north/south trail and allows trail users to travel through a variety of landscapes while enjoying activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding (designated 2007).
High Bridge Trail State Park — This 31-mile multiuse rail-trail in Central Virginia ideally suited for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places and a Virginia Historic Landmark. At 2,422 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River, High Bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the 10 longest recreational bridges in the United States. The trail is wide and level, making it easy to use by all ages and skill levels (designated 2013).
Massanutten Mountain Trail runs 71 miles through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests' Lee Ranger District. The trail is steeped in history, and offers a rich diversity of eastern wildflowers and animals in the area of Virginia between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Great North Mountain to the west (designated 2003).
New River Trail State Park — See more photos of the trail — This 57-mile linear state park passes through 4 counties in Southwest Virginia and follows the historic New River, the second oldest river in the world. The rail-trail provides a link to a number of nearby recreational areas, such as Shot Tower State Historical Park, and allows for a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and natural and human history interpretation (designated 2002).
Cyclist on bridge over the Occoquan Water Trail
Occoquan Water Trail — The 40 miles of the Occoquan Water Trail offer an unparalleled opportunity for boating adventure and exploration only 20 miles southwest of Washington, DC. Visitors are invited to discover ancient hemlock groves, granite cliffs, Civil War sites, relic structures, the historic port Town of Occoquan, remnant settlements, and wildlife sanctuaries (designated 2009).
Rivanna Trail — This 20-mile trail provides recreational and educational opportunities to numerous community groups including schools, scout troops, and senior citizens. The trail is home to diverse habitats and historic resources and has been nominated as a Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. In addition, the trail provides recreation for people who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife observation (designated 2002). See some great photos of young people at work and hiking on the trail.
Tobacco Heritage Trail - South Boston — Along this 2.6-mile segment of the Tobacco Heritage Trail in South Boston, history and nature are close at hand. Featured historic sites on the rail-trail include the remains of a cotton mill, the Prizery (once a tobacco warehouse, now a community theatre, museum, and events venue) Diamond Hill (a former slave cemetery), and Berry Hill Plantation. Nature enthusiasts enjoy birding, scenic views of the Dan River, and plenty of fresh air (designated 2013).
Virginia Capital Trail — This 8-mile urban trail and greenway is part of the planned 50-mile pedestrian and bicycle facility that will parallel the oldest inland transportation route in North America and connects Williamsburg to Richmond in a unique way (designated 2007).
Warrenton Branch Greenway - rail trail and historic site near downtown Warrenton (designated 2012).