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Reported: June 2018

Jackson River Scenic Trail...

Biking in Virginia's Alleghany Highlands

Jackson River Scenic Trail in Virginia's Alleghany Highlands follows an old Chesapeake and Ohio rail bed along the Jackson River near Covington. The trail passes fields, rock formations and woodland, with scenic waterfalls, river and mountain views. The crushed gravel surface is well maintained, mostly flat and an easy ride for most type bikes. Rest areas and picnic benches are provided at regular intervals. The trail is popular with runners, an annual marathon being held (full, half, 10K and 5K). (Detailed map and photos below.)

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Biking Map...
Jackson River Scenic Trail

View Larger Map external

Location: Alleghany County (See map)
Distance: 14 miles
Surface: Crushed gravel

Bike Shops/Rentals:
Alleghany Outdoors external (Covington)

Intervale Trailhead

The main trailhead with parking, restrooms, picnic pavilion. A new outfitter facility (biking, paddling) was under construction at this visit. South of the trailhead a one mile extension has been built connecting to a sidewalk system into Covington.


Intervale Trailhead to Petticoat Junction (2 miles)

Scenic ride with river views to Petticoat Junction Trailhead (parking, picnic). The name "Petticoat Junction" reminded us of the old TV show title but couldn't find any connection beyond the name. Petticoat Junction is also a popular pullout for river tubers and paddlers.


Petticoat Junction to Smith Bridge Trailhead (5 miles)

Through George Washington Natonal Forest and along the Virginia Brding and Wildlife Trail, it's a scenic and peaceful section.

Smith Bridge Trailhead to Natural Well Trailhead (3.5 miles)

Past Natural Well the trail continues another 3 miles to the end and turn-around

Covington area

Some worthwhile side-trips nearby are (1) Falling Springs Falls - the 80-foot waterfall was called by Thomas Jefferson "a remarkable cascade..."; (2) the Gathright Dam, which forms Lake Moomaw for flood control and recreation, and (3) and the C&O Railway Heritage Center at Clifton Forge which tells the story of the railroad's role in building the nation.

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