Virginia Tech, located in the Blue Ridge Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains, is abundant with rich forests, scenic mountain views and adventures. While winter is quickly approaching, there is still time to take advantage of nearby trails.
Virginia Tech’s Alternative Transportation Department is a strong advocate for ways of getting around campus other than driving a car. This includes walking, biking, taking transit and carpooling. These are all sustainable modes of transportation and are great ways to experience Blacksburg and the beautiful surrounding areas. With a bounty of connecting trails surrounding Virginia Tech, students have many options for exploring areas beyond campus.
The always-improving and ever-expanding Huckleberry Trail is one of the region’s greatest assets. The trail runs from Gateway Park at the base of Brush Mountain to the Montgomery County Public Library in downtown Blacksburg and continues all the way to the Christiansburg Recreation Center. Even more trail extensions are under way or in the planning stages.
Over the past few years, several improvements to the trail network on the south side of campus were completed. These include a trail underpass under Southgate Drive, three trail roundabouts and new connections to English Field and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. These improvements further enhanced the connectivity for students, faculty and staff with the 20 miles of paved trails on campus and the 11-mile-long Huckleberry Trail.
One of the easiest ways to take advantage of these trails is to use a Roam NRV share bike. The program is a partnership among Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Montgomery County and Virginia Tech that allows riders to take Roam bikes all throughout the region. Conveniently a Roam bike share hub can be found at the Huckleberry trailhead on Miller Street, near the library in Blacksburg.
The Huckleberry is mostly flat and provides a variety of rolling, rural landscapes, forested paths and exposure to the towns. It is the perfect trail on which to walk a dog, ride a bike or experience nearby parks.
The Coal Mining Heritage Park is just one of the sites to see on the Huckleberry Trail. Located between the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, the park offers a 1.5 mile loop trail and the remnants of an old mining community. The trail was designed to meet International Mountain Bike Association standards to attract and accommodate bicyclists, joggers and other frequent trail users.
Through the Heritage Trail and the in Gateway Park Trail in Blacksburg, the Huckleberry also connects users to Pandapas Pond and its various trails, nestled in the Jefferson National Forest. Pandapas is popular for its quiet wildlife, fishing, canoeing and different trail accesses.
The founder of the nonprofit Friends of the Huckleberry Trail, Bill Ellenbogen, said in the News Messenger, “Our goal was to stretch the trail from downtown Christiansburg in the south to the Jefferson National Forest north of Blacksburg. We wanted more than just a trail, indeed a linear park. What that means is a series of parks and amenities that the trail would tie together.”
It is a good season to walk, run or bike the Huckleberry Trail to see how this goal has come to fruition.
Written by Christy Myers