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Ride or Hike Along Virginia's Rails to Trails

RICHMOND Va. - Many of Virginia's old railroad grades have been converted into multi-use recreation trails perfect outdoor lovers who prefer more moderate and leisurely outdoor experiences. The routes' gentle, mostly flat trails range from a few miles to more and wind through some of the most beautiful scenery in Virginia. Below are highlights of Virginia's Rails to Trails. Find out more at Virginia.org/outdoors.  

Virginia Creeper Trail: The mellow grade of the Virginia Creeper Trail makes a perfect relaxed, two-wheeled mountain adventure. The rail trail runs 34 miles from Abingdon to Whitetop Station, carving through farmland, mountain streams and the wooded splendor of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. A popular option is to rent a bike from one of outfitters in either Abingdon or Damascus, who shuttle riders to Whitetop Station. From there, it's a 17-mile ride into Damascus, almost all downhill.  

Tobacco Heritage Trail: The ambitious trail development project will eventually create 174 miles of multi-use trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding that will link Virginia's western counties to the Virginia Beach Pipeline Trail. Currently, the 70-mile phase from Lawrenceville to Clarksville is under active development, and the first five-mile segment from Brodnax to LaCrosse is open.  

High Bridge Trail State Park: The centerpiece of this 31-mile rail trail in Farmville is the historic High Bridge, which was built in 1853 and runs 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River. The scenic ride on crushed stone largely follows the river -- also revered for its paddling and fishing opportunities that can be enjoyed at nearby Twin Lakes and Holliday Lake State Parks.  

Guest River Gorge Trail: This former railroad grade cuts through the scenic deep gorge for six miles, offering a remote escape in Southwest Virginia and eventually ending at the Guest River's confluence with the Clinch River.  

New River Trail State Park: The majority of this linear state park in the Blue Ridge Highlands parallels the majestic New River -- one of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the only that runs south to north. The rail-trail totals 57 miles as it curves through rural Carroll, Grayson, Pulaski and Wythe counties. Pitch a tent alongside the river at one of four primitive campgrounds for a truly enjoyable biking adventure.  

Washington & Old Dominion Trail: This 45-mile trail built on the former line of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad traverses the scenic countryside of Northern Virginia from Shirlington to Purcellville.  

James River Heritage Trail: A great way to mix forested scenic seclusion and urban flavor, the James River Heritage Trail system combines lush natural areas and the historic downtown of Lynchburg. The nine-mile trail starts as the Blackwater Creek Bikeway and then becomes the Lynchburg River walk as it approaches downtown where cyclists are rewarded with stunning views of the James River. Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. 

Go to www.Virginia.org\outdoors  or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free copy of the 2013 Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.  Stay connected with Virginia on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter at @VisitVirginia.

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