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long distance multi-use non-motorized trails

Tobacco Heritage Trail Most Popular Trail in Mid-Atlantic Region?

Look what one trail user has to say about the future of the Tobacco Heritage Trail:

Like other Rail-Trails, the Tobacco Heritage Trail creates opportunities for new businesses

Like other Rail-Trails, the Tobacco Heritage Trail creates opportunities for new businesses

John Andre

Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink | Edit

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.

This is an exciting opportunity for southern Virginia as it provides a quality of life enhancement for area residents. We hope the trail will make a positive contribution to the local economy. Based on projections the annual income impact is expected to create 197,000 annual visits to the trail and create approximately 61 new jobs annually…this leads to $4.6 million-$3.4 million in direct spending at area restaurants, gas stations, hotels, shops, etc. Already in Victoria, VA Subway decided to build there based on the proximity to the Tobacco Heritage Trail. We also hope that if the THT is a draw for tourism, entrepreneurs will take advantage of the increased business opportunities for agritourism, cycle shops for renting and repairing of bicycles, horse stabling and lodging, and my coworker in particular wants to see an ice cream and snow cone shop at a trail head!

Secondly, the Tobacco Heritage Trail going through southern Virginia positively influences the quality of life by making this a desirable community in which to live. The trail provides an outlet for recreation, healthy living, natural and historic preservation and an alternate source of transportation as it is developed and connects towns.

La Crosse Elementary students learn about the Tobacco Heritage Trail

Children Discover the Outdoors in a Presentation about the Tobacco Heritage Trail

It is also a wholesome environment in which to rear our children. Getting outdoors will help curb the rising cases of depression and chronic obesity among children. Developing habits of healthy doses of fresh air now, will set our children up for good, healthy adult lives.

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