Huckleberry Trail & Coal Mining Heritage Park

  • Highlights: History, rails to trails, kid & stroller friendly
  • Distance: 8.5 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 495 feet
  • Trail Surface: Huckleberry Trail is paved, Coal Mining Heritage Loop Trail is a dirt surface with several wooden boardwalks
  • Difficulty Level: Easy/Moderate 
  • Trailhead Parking: Christiansburg Recreation Center, 1600 N. Franklin St., Christiansburg, VA
  • Website: Friends of the Huckleberry Trail and Coal Mining Heritage Park
  • Beer Pairings: Iron Tree Brewing: Deerstalker ESB & Hazy River IPA

The Hike:

We often receive requests from our readers for more urban hikes. On a recent visit to Blacksburg, we discovered the Huckleberry Trail. The Huckleberry is a 15-mile paved trail which connects Blacksburg and Christiansburg. This paved, multi-use trail is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists. The trail is well marked and well maintained.

We began our walk at the Chrsitiansburg Recreation Center. The “trailhead” is located near the intersection of Cambria and North Franklin streets. Follow the many signs to Blacksburg. The first 1.5 miles of this walk are decidedly urban: sidewalks, street crossings, and shopping centers. However, we saw a small herd of deer in a wooded area near the Home Depot.

The trail crosses over several active railroad crossings—a reminder that much of the Huckleberry Trail is a reclaimed railroad bed dating back to the early 1900s. The trail follows the pedestrian Renva Weeks Knowles bridge over busy Peppers Ferry Road and the next few miles have no street noise of any signs of development.

An Eagle Scout project near a meadow helps identify 26 tree species. A railroad cut passes through rock before crossing a footbridge over an active railroad spur. At 3 miles, reach Coal Mining Heritage Park. 

Coal Mining Heritage Loop:

Located on the site of an early 20th century coal mine, this park features mining artifacts and equipment used in the mine. Numerous exhibits and placards describe the coal mining that occurred on this site. We continued on the Huckleberry to its intersection with Merrimac Road at 3.6 miles. However, for a shorter hike, follow the Coal Mining Loop either way and return to Christiansburg.

The Coal Mining Heritage Loop is a dirt trail with several small stream crossings. This trail loops around the Huckleberry. On our return from Merrimac Road, we went left the Coal Mining Loop over a wooden boardwalk and then walked beside the stream. 

This trail soon crosses the Huckleberry and begins a modest climb to the former site of the mine superintendent’s home. In 1.5 miles, the trail returns to the Huckleberry. Bear right here heading south on the Huckleberry and follow the signs to return to Christiansburg and the Recreation Center.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Trail Map:

Beer Pairing: 

Iron Tree Brewing Co. is located just a few miles from the Recreation Center in Christiansburg. This brewery offers 12 beers on tap, indoor and outdoor seating, and visiting food trucks on weekends. 

Pete is a pushover for an Extra Special Bitter. It made his day to see Beerstalker ESB (5.9% ABV • 41 IBU) on the menu. Beerstalker has just the right level of bitterness and a perfect copper color. It’s hoppiness in a glass. Kathy enjoyed a pint of Hazy River (6.0% ABV • 45 IBU), a hazy New England-style IPA. Brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, no fruit was sacrificed to brew this beer! The citrus flavor and aroma are derived from the hops.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.