Legacy Trails Program Awardee


Virginia Highlands Horse Trail

The BCHVH are dedicated to preserving and improving the iconic 83-mile-long Virginia Highlands Horse Trail #337, a multi-use trail in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in the George Washington Jefferson National Forest that stretches from Elk Garden in the west end to the New River, the eastern boundary. This popular trail is used by equestrians, hikers, mountain bikers and in sections, including the project area, is open to seasonal motorcycle use. The trail in the project area runs along and crosses four creeks (West Fork Dry Run, Jones Creek, Kinser Creek and Harvel Creek) that run into Cripple Creek which flows into the New River Watershed, that provides drinking water in southwest Virginia and West Virginia. A 3.5-mile section of the trail lies adjacent to the Little Dry Run Wilderness Area.

Applicant: Back Country Horsemen of the Virginia Highlands
Project Location: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, George Washington Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
Amount Awarded: $75,000.00

Over the years of significant storm events and lack of maintenance, erosion issues and heavy usage has increased on the poorly designed trails and are contributing to runoff and sedimentation in the nearby streams as well as causing unsafe conditions for trail users. In one area (Jones Creek) the main stream channel has become blocked by fallen trees and debris, causing the water to divert into the trail prism, eroding down to bedrock and creating safety and access issues for trail users and impeding the natural streamflow. Several culverts have become blocked or washed out, further contributing to trail damage, impeded water flow and erosion. Sections of tread are extremely entrenched, concentrating waterflow down the trail corridor, scouring the trail tread, and contributing to stream sedimentation.

According to Wildlife Biologist, Brittany Phillips, “Species that would benefit from this project would be young Rainbow and Brook Trout, Blacknose Dace, Crayfish, Macroinvertebrates such as Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddisflies. Species downstream that would benefit would be the federally endangered Candy Darter and the Kanawha Minnow. ALL would benefit from improving trails and creek crossings which would reduce run off and sedimentation into the creeks”

To accomplish this, trails will be realigned, where possible, to better distance them from the streambeds. Where realignment is not possible, or further efforts are required, trail tread and prism will be armored or stabilized with cribbing (timber or stone) walls to stabilize out slopes and reinforce creek banks. Additional tread and drainage repairs will occur including trail tread re-benching, hardening, backslope stabilization, construction of additional drainage features and reconstruction and improvement of existing features which will all be prioritized to reduce sedimentation. Approximately 0.8 miles of braided trails and unauthorized detours will be closed and naturalized. An additional 2.9 miles of connecting trails (Little Dry Run and the Iron Mountain Trail) will also be improved by the project, reducing deferred maintenance backlog.

In addition to volunteer labor that will be provided by BCHVH and local partners, mechanized equipment used to complete the project will be donated by BCHVH members or rented and will include tractors, UTV’s, 1 ton dump truck, skid steer, mini excavator. Horses and mules will contribute in places where machinery can’t go. Two trained crew leaders will coordinate workdays. A trail specialist (AK Trails LLC) and technician with mechanized equipment (Ditch Witch w/6-way blade, Yanmar tracked gravel hauler, plate tamper, etc.) will be hired. A 6-person crew from the Appalachian Conservation Corps will join BCHVH for 3 9-day hitches, to enhance capabilities for labor intensive aspects of the project.

The primary aspects of the project will take place in 4 phases of 8–10-day intensive sessions starting with Phase 1 in September 2023 and ongoing through 2024 with timing dependent on weather patterns. Spring and Summer of 2023 will be spent prepping, planning, and brushing to get ready for the main work sessions.

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2024: Bartram National Recreation Trail Maintenance

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2023: The Storm Creek Connector Trail

2023: Backpacker and Lakeshore Trails

2023: Beaver Meadows Trail

2023: Munson Meadow Trail

2023: Imnaha River Trail

2023: Maxon Meadows Trail to Chamberlain Meadows Camp

2023: Lost Lake Trail

2023: Pasayten Wilderness Project

2023: Catawba River Headwaters

2023: Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

2023: Southfork Trail, White Mountain Wilderness

2023: Black Canyon and Trail Creek Drainages

2023: Twenty Lakes Basin Toads and Trails

2023: Dickey Bell Trail Reroute and Bypass

2023: Horseshoe Canyon Trails

2023: Lower San Francisco River Wilderness Study Area

2023: Trails in Ontonagon and Sturgeon watersheds

2023: Bandit Springs Trail System

2023: Caton Lake Trail

2023: Yellowbelly Trail

2023: Santa Cruz Trail

2023: Bridge Replacement for Trail Access

2023: Pioneer Mountains Trail Maintenance

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2023: Pincushion Mountain Ski Trails

2023: Rocky Gap Horse Trail System

2023: Shrode Lake Trail

2023: Johnson Creek Trail Re-Establishment

2023: Soda Ditch Loop Trail

2023: Restoration of Buckhorn and Indian Trails

2023: Hauf Lake and One Horse Lakes Trails

2023: Building Resilience on the TRT/PCT

2023: Camp Creek Watershed Improvement

2023: Pomas Creek Trail and Entiat River Trail

2023: Western States Trail & Tevis Cup Trail, within Granite Chief Wilderness

2023: Western States Trail Improvements

2023: Sipsey Wilderness Trails Restoration

255 views • posted 05/23/2023