Biking and Walking in Virginia
Places to Bike
The Commonwealth of Virginia has many great locations to ride a bicycle. The state offers natural wonders and beauty, historical resources, and opportunities for thrills and excitement. One of the best ways to explore Virginia is on two wheels. In southwestern Virginia, bicyclists can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Appalachian Mountains, where numerous state parks, an expansive national forest, and miles of country roads await road riders and mountain bikers alike.
The Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) 2010 Virginia Bicycling Guide (PDF) is an overview of bicycling in Virginia. It provides practical information on bicycling in state, from laws and safety tips to advice on planning a bicycle trip. The guide also presents detailed information on bicycle routes, state parks and bicycle clubs in each of Virginia's nine tourism regions.
- Blue Ridge Highlands
- Central Virginia
- Eastern Shore
- Heart of Appalachia
- Northern Virginia
- Shenandoah valley
- Southern Virginia
- Hampton Roads
Shared Use Paths
Virginia Capital Trail
The Virginia Capital Trail is a 52-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail in Central Virginia and Hampton Roads that connects the commonwealth's present capital of Richmond with the colonial capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg. The trail is an 8- to 10-feet-wide shared use path that parallels scenic Route 5 and the James River. The Capital Trail overlaps with U.S. Bicycle Routes 76, from the City of Richmond to Willis Church Rd in Henrico County, where it connects with U.S. Bicycle Route 76. See VDOT's U.S. Bicycle Routes page for more information on the 838 miles of the U.S. Bicycle Route system in Virginia.
The project was overseen by VDOT with project funding coming through a combination of federal transportation enhancement grants, state and local government funds, and private donations. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the trail's continued development
High Bridge State Park
High Bridge State Park is a 31-mile rail-trail connecting the towns of Pamplin and Burkeville and running through the communities of Prospect and Farmville in Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward Counties. The highlight of this Southern Virginia trail is a bridge positioned 160 feet above the Appomattox River, from which visitors will experience an expansive view of land where Union and Confederate soldiers fought during the Civil War.
Washington & Old Dominion Trail
The Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) is a 45-mile, nine foot wide paved bike trail in Northern Virginia that stretches from the City of Alexandria to the Town of Purcellville. There is also a parallel gravel equestrian trail, which may be used by pedestrians and cyclists. The W&OD provides connections to numerous local and regional shared use paths and bike trails, such as the Fairfax County Parkway Trail, Four Mile Run Trail, Custis Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, and many more.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) maintains many miles of biking, hiking, horseback, jogging, and nature trails of varying lengths of varying lengths in their 24 regional parks in addition to the W&OD. A trail map of detailing the 45-mile linear park is available from NVRPA.
See Northern Virginia Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources for how to report maintenance issues and the district's paving program and bicycle locker program.
New River Trail
The New River Trail is a 57-mile rail-trail situated within the 765-acre New River Trail State Park. The trail passes through Grayson, Carroll, Wythe, and Pulaski Counties in the Blue Rigde highlands section of Virginia. Numerous access points along the trail provide entry to the park where there are campgrounds and amenities for a variety of visitors, including hikers, cyclists, equestrians, boaters, and paddlers. The trail surface is crushed stone and includes three major bridges and nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles. They parallel the geographically unique New River for approximately 39 miles.
Virginia Creeper Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile rail-trail within the towns of Abingdon and Damascus and Washington County. The trail, which is popular for its scenery, is situated within the Blue Ridge Highlands and Valley regions in Virginia. The Creeper Trail connects to the the Appalachian Trail in Damascus and to the New River Trail via the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, and the Beech Grove Trail. This route traverses Virginia's highest mountain, Mount Rogers, and intersects the Creeper Trail about 20 miles east of Abingdon.
Virginia has 34 state parks across the state. Some parks, including Chippokes Plantation, Pocahontas, and First Landing State Parks, offer special biking trails. The New River Trail State Park, running through 57 miles of southwestern Virginia, is a along a converted rail bed. In some location, rough riding surfaces are more suited to mountain bikes. Camping and travel information on these parks is available from the Department of Conservation and Recreation's website at http://www.dcr.Virginia.gov
Some bicyclists enjoy riding on unpaved or gravel roads. The best source for finding unpaved roads VDOT maintains is to consult the interactive Virginia Unpaved Roads map. The VDOT County Map Series is another resource and is available online as PDFs. Please note this map series was last updated in 2004 so some of the roads have since been paved. One way to confirm whether a road has been paved is to view it in satellite imagery using an online mapping service. Dry unpaved roads often show up much lighter in satellite imagery than pavement.
Crossing the Waters
Cyclists in Hampton Roads and the eastern portion of Virginia may encounter rivers and bays when they ride. Several major river crossings are prohibited to bicyclists and pedestrians, including:
- James River Bridge at Newport News (U.S. Route 17/State Route 32).
- Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (U.S. Route 13).
- Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (I-64).
- Nice Bridge leading to Maryland (U.S. Route 301).
- Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel across Hampton Roads (I-664).
Crossing the James River from Norfolk to Hampton can be accomplished by boarding the Hampton Roads Transit MAX Bus Route 961 which travels through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on Interstate 64. The Hampton stop closest to the Bridge Tunnel is Settlers Landing and Hampton Harbor. The Norfolk stop closest to the James River is the Wards Corner transfer station. Each bus can accommodate two bicycles.
A schedule of the MAX Route 961 can be found here.
The James River can also be crossed upriver from Hampton Roads by taking a 15-20 minute ferry ride on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. See VDOT's Traveling with your Bike page for more information on ferries operated in Virginia.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which is not a VDOT facility, offers a shuttle van for cyclists. The cost is $13, the same as a passenger car toll. You must call ahead at least 24 hours in advance. For more information, contact:
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
32386 Lankford Highway
P.O. Box 111
Cape Charles, VA 23310-0111
Bicycle Access and Prohibition on Limited Access Roadways
Please note these PDFs are the best information available as of March 2012 and may not represent every limited access highway in Virginia
- Non-Interstate - Facilities Not Designated Limited Access and Not Prohibited to Bicycles
- Non-Interstate - Facilities Designated Limited Access and Prohibited to Bicycles
- Non-Interstate - Facilities Designated Limited Access and Not Prohibited to Bicycles