One of the first things I came across when I was researching the Blacksburg area was the Huckleberry Trail and as soon as I got here, I became obsessed with finding it, so we could ride/run/walk on it. We tried to follow the signs to it from downtown one day, but had no luck, so the next morning, I set out to find it on my daily run. We had been so close the day before–just one street over!
So the next day, Jeff and I grabbed our bikes and hit the trail. The trail runs about 6 miles from Blacksburg to Christiansburg, and definitely reminds me of the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach. Although this trail drops you off at the New River Mall instead of the beach, but at least the trail itself is gorgeous!
One of the wonderful things about the east coast is that there always seems to be a long history behind everything, the Huckleberry Trail included. According to the trail website,
The Huckleberry Trail has deep roots and a long history in providing transportation between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.
It began as the Virginia Anthracite Coal and Rail Company in 1902 to transport coal from the Merrimac Mine (now the location of the Coal Miners’ Heritage Park) to the Cambria Depot in Christiansburg. In 1904, the railway was extended to Blacksburg (the depot was located at approximately the site of the current Montgomery/Floyd Regional Library) and a contract was made between the coal company and Virginia Tech. On September 15, 1904, the first passenger train rolled into Blacksburg.
The regular schedule at that time was four daily trains, with three of the trips carrying mail. Passengers could make the trip from Cambria to Blacksburg for 50 cents with baggage, or 35 cents without, and a round trip could be purchased for 60 cents without bags.
On September 21, 1904, the first round of cadets made their way into Blacksburg on the train. It was soon nicknamed “Huckleberry Crossing” because when the train would stall, passengers could step off the train and pass time picking the abundance of huckleberries (wild blueberries) along the route. The name stuck, and “Huckleberry Crossing” was soon painted in large letters on the depot.
From 1912 to 1922, the Huckleberry was Blacksburg’s main link to surrounding areas, but by the early 1930’s, fewer students were riding the train because of the long wait. With the use of automobiles increasing, the Huckleberry’s passenger service was cut to twice a day in the 1940’s and then once a day in the 1950’s.
On July 25, 1958, the Huckleberry made it’s last steam run and operated on power until August 9, 1958. In the summer of 1966, the Blacksburg depot was closed.
Thanks to the vision of J.C. Garrett of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech, the Huckleberry would not be lost. In 1966, he and others worked to transform the train path into a nature trail and walking path for about one mile between the Blacksburg Library and Airport Road, the start of what would later become known as the Huckleberry Trail.
The trail also has hiking offshoots and information and displays about some of the history talked about above.
And they even have a bathroom!
Most of the pictures in this post were taken from Christiansburg towards Blacksburg.
Also, the county plans to expand the trail to include access to the national forest and further into Christiansburg, as seen here.
You can find more information about the Huckleberry Trail here!