New River Trail State Park
New River Trail State Park is a state park located in southwest Virginia, United States. It parallels 39 miles (63 km) of the New River along an old railroad right-of-way, and is a designated National Recreation Trail. At Fries Junction, the trail splits and one branch follows Chestnut Creek for 12 miles.
The trail itself is a rail trail that was created out of 57 miles (92 km) of abandoned railroad formerly owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway. Norfolk Southern donated the land to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1986 for purposes of creating a state park. Volunteers began making improvements and the park made its grand opening in May 1987, with 4 miles (6.4 km) of trail open for use. Since then, 57 miles (92 km) have been made open for public recreational use. The trail surface is crushed stone.
The trail meanders through numerous old industrial towns including Pulaski, Galax, and Fries. It also passes by the historic Shot Tower and two turn-of-the-century hydroelectric dams. The Shot Tower is one of the most recognized features of the New River Trail. It was built for Thomas Jackson in 1807. The 75ft tower above ground is mirrored by a 75ft shaft underground to create a 150ft drop that allowed molten lead to form a perfectly round ball.
The trail is commonly used for walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, camping, and horseback riding. Those who use the trail can expect to view scenic vistas from old railroad bridges and to pass through two old railroad tunnels. Keep an eye out for geo-caches stashed throughout the park.
For a true trail experience, visit the Foster Falls office and rent a canoe, kayak, float tube, or bicycle. Horse back trips are also an option.
Foster Falls was named after the former landowner William Foster. Virginia Coke and Mining Co. used to operate on the property and produced around two thousand pounds of pig iron in a year. Many of the small communities surrounding the area produced iron. A lot of the old iron furnaces are still standing throughout the park.
The park headquarters is located in historic Foster Falls at 116 Orphanage Dr. Max Meadows, VA. The road gets its name from a point in history when the former Foster Falls Hotel, was turned into an orphanage for disadvantaged children.
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- Michael J. Pulice (May 2009). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Foster Falls Historic District". Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
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