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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. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.
High Bridge Trail State Park is a 31 mile long multi-use trail in Central Virginia ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The trail, once a rail bed, is wide, level and generally flat and covered with finely crushed limestone. The surface and dimensions make it easy for all ages and abilities to enjoy it. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, which is 2,422 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2013.
The historical significance of High Bridge Trail State Park is nationally recognized. The former railroad line was part of the South Side Railroad which connected Petersburg to Lynchburg, Virginia. The park is named for the remarkable railroad bridge over the Appomattox River. High Bridge was the location of two battles fought in the American Civil War during Lee’s retreat from Petersburg on April 6th and 7th, 1865 just days before the final surrender in Appomattox, Virginia.
The original bridge was built in 1853. The current steel-tower bridge was completed in 1914. The immensity of the park’s main attraction, High Bridge, makes High Bridge Trail State Park an alluring as well as scenic travel destination. The majestic High Bridge is 2,422 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River. High Bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the ten longest recreational bridges in the United States. High Bridge is a Virginia Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. High Bridge Trail State Park is the recipient of Scenic Virginia Inc.’s 2012 award for Scenic Tourism.
High Bridge Trail’s location is ideal. Located in Central Virginia in the mid-Atlantic section of the United States it is convenient for many. It is only a day’s drive from New York City, Atlanta, Georgia or Columbus, Ohio. It is within an easy drive of most of the state’s population including an hour or two drive by urban populations in Virginia such as Richmond, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Charlottesville, Washington D.C., and Virginia Beach. It is also appealing as it is an accessible trail with a firm, flat, stable surface— easy to use by all ages and skill levels.
The annual 5K race on National Trails Day
The health and fitness benefits of the trail have become important to locals as well as tourists. There are many who use the trail daily whether walking their dog, running or biking. Numerous bicycling groups have explored the trail or use it regularly. High Bridge Trail State Park is featured on the cover of the 2012 Official State Bicycle Map of Virginia. Hiking clubs, walkers, equestrians and more are all getting their exercise by hitting the trail.
High Bridge Trail State Park hosts an annual 5K race on National Trails Day and runners come from miles away to compete. Within the community, several non-profit and fundraising groups are granted permission to host races, walks, and other charitable events or to raise community awareness.
High Bridge Trail State Park is fortunate to have dedicated partnerships and support. The Friends of High Bridge Trail State Park (FoHBTSP) is a non-profit organization that supports the park through volunteerism, advocacy and fundraising efforts. The Friends are a group of hands-on volunteers dedicated to preserving the park and supporting its mission to conserve the natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources of the park.
Bicycling on the crushed rock trail
They provide a variety of recreational and educational opportunities and promote environmental stewardship as well as organize fundraisers. The Virginia Association for Parks (VAFP) is the nonprofit umbrella organization for the citizen support groups (Friends Groups) and individual volunteers supporting parks across the Commonwealth. The VAFP recently recognized and honored 15 people for their extraordinary contributions at High Bridge Trail State Park during the 2012 VAFP fall conference. Among those awarded were Friends members, tourism advocates, town mayors and officials, and local citizens.
Another partnership is with Virginia's Heartland Regional Visitor Center and Transportation Heritage Museum in Farmville. Travel counselors help visitors find the best places to stay, eat, spend time, and enjoy historical sites and outdoor opportunities in the area. They also act as a visitor center for High Bridge Trail State Park, offering maps and brochures as well as souvenirs. An illustrated history exhibit of High Bridge from 1853-1914 featuring a scale model of the original bridge plus dozens of glass-negative images of the 1914 bridge are on display here.
1914 photo of old and new bridges from East end
The trail experience has been improved by projects initiated by Appomattox, Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties along with the towns of Pamplin, Prospect, Farmville and Burkeville. Restrooms, landscaping, trailheads, renovated depots, trail construction and extensions have all been donated by these jurisdictions.
High Bridge Trail State Park has future plans identified in the 2012 master plan such as facility development, trail management, interpretive displays, kiosks, signs and other media to reinforce the experience. Protecting viewsheds, managing resources, maintaining the trail, meeting the needs of volunteers, providing appropriate education and interpretation are also essential aspects of a positive visitor experience. Park wide improvements will include landscaping, viewsheds, picnicking, interpretive signs, land acquisition, side paths, utilities, parking, and trailside rest areas.
Here is how one park visitor summed up his experience, “This is a great park now that the bridge is complete. The signage, trail surface, frequency and quality of restrooms are excellent. We are frequent users of rail and multi-use trails and have traveled to Maine, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, and many places in between to ride them. High Bridge Trail deserves an ‘A’. The bridge conversion is exceptional and the best we have ever seen. Kudos on a project very well done.”
For more information:
High Bridge Trail State Park
6888 Green Bay Road Green Bay, VA 23942