The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway trail was established in 1997 on the site of the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway and provides a beautiful out and back trail winding through trees and along the Piney River. From the trailhead on Highway 151 or the trailhead at Rose Mill, bikers, horseback riders, walkers, joggers and others can enjoy the entire 7 miles of trail.
This trail grew from the idea of a coalition of local citizens. Steve and Popie Martin had purchased the seven mileright-of-way from the Blue Ridge Railway in hopes it would eventually be open for public recreation. In 1997 representatives of the Blue Ridge Group of the Sierra Club, the Nelson Bicycle Alliance and the Blue Ridge Harness and Saddle Club approached the Martins with the idea of developing a trail for multiple non-motorized uses. The group formed a steering committee and began clearing debris, planning and fund-raising. In 1998 the steering committee became the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Foundation.
The Foundation, working with both Nelson and Amherst Counties, obtained extensive grants from the federal Transportation Enhancement Act, hired consultants and projects managers, and provided supervision and suggestions throughout the development of the trail. Local businesses and private citizens contributed supplemental funds for special projects and many hours of labor on the trail. The trail opened in sections; the final segment of the seven miles was completed, at long last, in 2014.
In 2015 the section of the trail in Amherst County was designated the Popie and Steve Martin Corridor in recognition of the land donation, time and tireless energy of the Martins, without whom this trail would never have happened.
The Foundation remains dedicated to improving signs, exhibits and amenities along the trail (such as the caboose) and seeking a trailhead at the eastern end. Contributions and volunteers are welcome. Tax deductible donations, made to the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Foundation, can be sent to PO Box 1318, Amherst, VA, 24521-1318. For more information, please contact Emily Harper at eharper