|Length||5.762 mi (9.3 km)|
|Location||Montgomery County, Virginia|
|Designation||Community Millennium Trail|
|Sights||Appalachian Mountains, Virginia Tech|
The Huckleberry Trail is a 5.762 miles (9.27 km) rail trail in Montgomery County, Virginia, connecting Blacksburg and Christiansburg. The trail features a 12 feet (3.7 m) wide trail with an asphalt surface at the middle, and unpaved shoulders.
The trail takes its name from the former route of the Virginia Anthracite & Coal Railroad, nicknamed "the Huckleberry", upon which the trail was constructed. The huckleberry moniker was developed by the railroad's passengers, who would pick huckleberries alongside the tracks during the railroad's frequent service interruptions and break downs.
The huckleberry Trail is also the home of the Huckleberry Hick.
With passenger service ending in 1958, and the subsequent abandonment of the line in 1967, the former railroad right-of-way remained unused until the idea of its conversion to a pedestrian trail arose in the 1980s. In February 1990, Montgomery County approved what was deemed the Huckleberry Trail as the county's first bikeway. After a successful grass roots fundraising campaign for the trails construction, in October 1993 the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded the Huckleberry project $453,424 towards its construction.
Originally scheduled to commence construction in early 1994, delays resulting from ADA accessibility and prehistoric archaeological sites along the trails path resulted in some adjustments to its route. Additionally, higher costs resulting from the construction of a tunnel and enhanced emergency vehicle access resulted in the project running out of its initial funds and being placed on hold. After delays, and when additional funding was secured, construction commenced on the initial 3.2 miles (5.1 km) segment between the Blacksburg Library and the intersection of Hightop and Merrimac Roads on April 5, 1996. Although utilized by citizens prior to, the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail occurred on December 7, 1996.
Immediately following the completion of the initial phase, bidding for the construction of the second phase with an initial completion date estimated for late 1997. However, estimated costs for the completion of the second segment came in well over-budget resulting in the project being pushed back until additional funding could be secured. With Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Montgomery County all contributing additional funding, construction of the second phase was complete in late 1998, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony occurring on December 1, 1998. The completed trail cost $1.4 million to complete with federal transportation grants covering about $690,000 of the total cost.
By 2000, the success of the trail was recognized by the federal governments as the Huckleberry Trail was named as one of the nation's 2,000 Community Millennium Trails on June 1, 2000. Future expansions of the trail may include a connection with the New River Trail and both the Jefferson National Forest and downtown Christiansburg.
- Freis, Robert (August 22, 1993). "Trail picking up steam". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- Sunderland, Kim (February 6, 1990). "Huckleberry Trail proposed as first county bike path". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV2.
- Lindquist, Rick (October 22, 1993). "Huckleberry Trail takes next steps". The Roanoke Times. p. Virginia, A1.
- Freis, Robert (November 17, 1994). "Trail project runs out of funds". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- Freis, Robert (April 6, 1996). "Patience will pay off for users of Huckleberry". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- Freis, Robert (December 7, 1996). "Huckleberry trail milestone marked today". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- Angleberger, Tom (August 28, 1998). "Trail's end now late fall". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV8.
- Freis, Robert (December 2, 1998). "Trail's end is just the start". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- Calnam, Christopher; Mike Gangloff (June 1, 2000). "Three trails to join national list". The Roanoke Times. p. NRV1.
- "High Fives for the Huckleberry". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- Huckleberry Trail from Montgomery County Parks & Recreation
- Friends of the Huckleberry
- Coal Mining Heritage Park
- Strava segment