New River Trail

Jefferson National Forest, Virginia

Distance54.9mi
Elevation Gain8,294ft
Trailhead Elevation2,158ft
Top2,355ft
Elevation Min/Max1844/2355ft
Elevation Start/End2158/2158ft

New River Trail

New River Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Galax City, Wythe County, Grayson County, Pulaski County, and Carroll County, Virginia. It is within Jefferson National Forest. It is 54.9 miles long and begins at 2,158 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 110.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 8,294 feet. New River Trail Parking, New River Trail Parking Lot, and another parking are near the trailhead. The Byllesby School (historical) (elevation 2,096 feet) school can be seen along the trail.

New River Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"A bicycle tour along the New River Trail can take you back fifty or sixty years; it can also take you back more than 100 million years. It all depends on your perspective and the elasticity of your imagination. The New River is the second-oldest river in the world and dates back geologically more than 100 million years. Get out on the trail, scan the water rushing past high rock cliffs, and ponder that.

As you pedal you will also see clear, tangible evidence of a once-thriving railroad culture. There are two tunnels and three major bridges to remind you that a railroad once roared alongside the river, rattled across bridges, and roared through these tunnels. There are also abandoned mills and industrial sites to visit. Terrain: originally engineered as a railroad line, the trail is relatively flat with an occasional, slight uphill grade."

"Linear Park. It has a nice ring to it, and New river Trail State Park is Virginia's only one, all 55 official miles of it. If looking down into the churning white water of a mountain river hundreds of feet below weaken you grip on the handlebar, you'll need to dismount and walk across the trestles more than once.

Likewise, if dark gives you anxiety attacks, you may want to travel prepared with a bike light. One tunnel is 229 feet long. The overall length makes riding the entire stretch in one day impractical for most. And the ride along America's second oldest river is too good to rush. So mount the panniers and stow the fly rod and camping equipment."

"Following one of the world’s oldest rivers, the spectacular New River Trail—a linear state park—explores an especially remote corner of Virginia, where the river and forest and historical mining tidbits are your constant companions. Surface: Cinder and ballast stone."

"Southwestern Virginia's New River Trail follows the 57-mile abandoned railroad bed form Pulaski to Galax with a branch trail that leads to the town of Fries. For nearly 40 miles, this rail trail parallels the banks of the New River, the great grandfather of rivers. The New River is much older than its name might suggest. Flowing south to north, as very few rivers in North America do, the New River has the distinction of being the world's section oldest river.

Along the trail, cyclists will cross more than 30 bridges and trestles and cycle through tunnels nearly 200 feet long. The longest bridge in the par, located at Fries Junction, is more than 1,000 feet long and offers dramatic views of the ancient river which courses more than 40 feet below. Scenery unique to Southwest Virginia is visible along the way. The area's rich history of an era long past, with the departure of the railroad, lives on whole-heartedly in the towns and communities that line the trail."

"The trail runs from the town of Pulaski to Galax, with a 5-mile spur going to Fries. Scenery includes bucolic farmland, dense woods, rocky cliffs, and 200-foot railroad trestles above the New River. However, this 55-mile point-to-point converted railroad line runs downhill from Galax to Claytor Lake, some 43 miles.

For this reason many riders will elect to start at Fries or Galax and, with the help of a shuttle from New River Bicycles, ride to the shop's location at Draper or continue all the way to Pulaski. The ever-changing trail scenery includes waterfront views along the New River; secluded wooded settings on one side and sheer wall of granite on the other; and railroad trestle crossings hovering hundreds of feet above streams such as Cripple Creek. Find out in advance is there is a trail closure between mileposts 17 and 19."

New River Trail Reviews

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5/28/2011
Great Trail! Great Views! Moderate ride, can be done on a PathWay Bike, do not need a Mountan Bike.
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10/20/2009
I have done all 57 miles . The ride from Fosters Fall to Fries Junction is fantastic. Had a bear run in front of us. WAY COOL!!! the ride from Pulaski to Claytor Lake is not as nice as the rest of the trail but still well worth the ride. Great trail for those just starting out (like me) very few grades and the scenery is great.
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10/3/2009
Wonderful trail with picture taking opportunities every few feet (that gave me a reason to quit riding). Flat well maintained trail. We got on in Fries Va and turned around at the Galax split, after crossing the train tressel. Lots of fun and an easy ride for just about anyone. We saw someone in a golf cart riding on the trail, which I thought was a good idea for someone who could not walk or bike the trail. It is a beauty that should be enjoyed by everyone.
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8/29/2009
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8/3/2008
Excellent trail. Campground located right on the trail. Some parts a bit buisy for my liking, but majority of it was great.
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7/1/2008
Another good family ride. Rode from Galax to Pulaski. Not allot of places to eat and re-fill along the way, but a beautiful ride.
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6/10/2007
Beautiful early summer day, rode from Fries to Byllesby Dam and back, about 18 miles. Early part of trail coming out of Fries runs very close to a road which was fortunately not too busy. River in Fries spectacularly gorgeous, and beauty was amazing throughout ride. Trail surface just fine. Toilets at Fries and at junction of the Fries Spur and main trail from Galax both a bit ripe, but bearable. I feel blessed to live close enough to ride this trail regularly. Note there are no parking fees in Fries, so I can feel guilty for enjoying it for free as well (as I do not pay Virginia taxes). Post-ride lunch at Shaylynn's in Fries was solid American food and cheap (turn left out of parking lot and it is just a short distance away, on the left past the fire station that sits back from the road a bit).
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6/9/2007
We entered the trail at Pulaski-Xaloy and enjoyed a short ride to Allisonia and back to Pulaski-Xaloy. There was some storm damage along the trail from recent storms, but the trail itself is clear. The trail is well maintained and the facilities are good. The store mentioned in the Trail summary at Draper is no longer in business. My only suggestion is to make sure you bring your own food, do not rely on the ability to purchase food along the trail.
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9/29/2006
Fall arrived early in SW Virginia this year. I began my ride to Pulaski on a crisp, wet morning at the Galax trailhead (MP 51.7). Severe hail producing storms had passed through the area the night before leaving the trail covered with wet leaves and ushering in much cooler temperatures. Despite the overnight precipitation, the trail was in good condition with very few puddles. The trail from Galax takes you along the Chestnut Creek before finally reaching the New River (MP 40) and it is here that the trail is joined by the Fries spur. Much of the trail is carved into the hillside and you are often riding with a towering rock wall on one side and a 30’ wooded slope to the river’s edge on the other. There are plenty of covered picnic tables and restroom facilities along the trail however, few places to purchase snacks or drinks. From Galax to Claytor Lake the trail is very flat however there is a noticeable incline from the lake to just beyond Draper. The incline is not severe but did have me checking to see if my brakes were stuck on or my rear tire was going flat. The trail is fairly isolated and I passed only two other cyclists and six pedestrians over the entire 51 mile ride. The many river crossings and two tunnels made for a more interesting ride and overall this was scenic and well maintained trail. I would recommend saving this one for spring when the temperatures are warmer and the trees are all in bloom.
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8/21/2006
Awesome and beautiful! We did the entire trail twice on pleasure (comfort) bikes and found it relatively easy. The most beautiful part is between Pulaski and Allisonia, but it is extremely pretty between Fries and Fries Junction. The Hiwassee Bridge area is absolutely beautiful.
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New River Trail Photos

Trail Information

Jefferson National Forest
Nearby City
Jefferson National Forest
Parks
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
Swimming
Additional Use
New River Trail State Park, 540-699-6778.
Local Contacts