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long distance multi-use non-motorized trails

Tobacco Heritage Trail Gets a Makeover

Newly paved four mile section of the Tobacco Heritage Trail

The paving of a four mile section of Tobacco Heritage Trail has been a hot topic for trail users. On one hand paving introduces a manmade structure into the natural landscape, but on the other hand paving has many advantages that make this trail user a happy camper.

With the new paving, a family using strollers and tricycles will be able to enjoy the beautiful trail scenery from the safety of a non-motorized trail. Before the paving, the trail surface was fairly mushy and difficult to push a stroller on. It was an unsolved mystery why this section of trail from La Crosse to Brodnax never set like other sections of the trail. The surface was tested, the construction reviewed and professionals consulted, but no definitive answer was ever reached as to why the surface wasn’t firm like the other areas of trail.

Disabled individuals who use wheelchairs will be able for the first time to journey into the woods and explore. While the paving of this short section may limit a percentage of the trail users, it opens up a whole new world to people whose entire lives have met with one limit after another. This is one less limit disabled individuals will face.

The majority of trail users that support paving the four miles are surprisingly local runners. Fund raising races that had previously occurred on the Tobacco Heritage Trail were losing more and more participants due to the ruts and bumps. Runners who voiced their concern of twisting ankles due to the unevenness of the surface are excited about having a smooth trail to use.

Don’t like paving? For the rest of the trail users that do not prefer the paving, know that you are welcome on the Tobacco Heritage Trail. Ten new beautiful unpaved miles will be added to the Tobacco Heritage Trail this year. Connecting with the Lawrenceville section will make thirteen miles of unpaved trail that will be especially beneficial for equestrians.  On the newest section of trail there will be horse mounting benches, horse hitching posts and parking areas large enough to accommodate horse trailers. By having parts of the trail paved and parts of the trail unpaved, we hope that no matter your opinion you will be able to enjoy the trail surface of your preference.

As for myself, I look forward to hopping on my bicycle and sailing down the pavement with the wind blowing in my hair!

One Comment

  1. John Andre
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Tobacco Heritage Trail during a recent visit to South Boston. Having bicycled dozens of rail-trail conversions throughout the country, I’m convinced that THT has the potential to become one of the most popular trails in the Mid-Atlantic region. Why? Because when complete, the system will form a nearly traffic-free continuous 150-mile loop through Southside Virginia. Virtually all current trail systems are linear and can only be traversed end-to-end. This creates logistical headaches for long-distance hikers and bikers because it requires either a vehicle ride back to the starting point or a repetitious out-and-back route. By contrast, the completed THT will enable users to explore the entire system and finish at or near their starting point. This is particularly attractive to bicyclists seeking a long ride with minimal contact with vehicle traffic. Because of this feature, THT could become a major driver of economic revival of towns along the route that will provide food, lodging, and entertainment to users. The close proximity of THT to major population centers such as Richmond, Raleigh-Durham, and Greensboro will ensure heavy usage, especially on weekends. The State of Virginia, local governments, conservation groups, and businesses should take advantage of this unique opportunity and support completion of the THT. The eventual return in tourism dollars will more than pay for the up-front expenses. More important, the trail will provide immeasurable non-monetary benefits to local users and visitors alike through enhanced health and recreational opportunities.

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