Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail
Nestled in the heart of Virginia's picturesque landscape lies the historic Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail, an emblem of engineering marvel and natural beauty. This trail promises a unique hike for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Originally constructed as a rail passage in the mid-19th century, the Blue Ridge Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the United States at the time of completion. Carved through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap, this tunnel's creation was an engineering feat, constructed by 800 Irishmen and 40 enslaved African Americans. Watch The Tunnel for a compelling and well-produced 35 minute documentary about the construction and people of Blue Ridge Tunnel or stop by the Waynesboro Heritage Museum for more information and a free booklet about the Tunnel's storied history. Its conversion into a hiking trail offers a unique journey through time and nature.
Spanning approximately 3.7 miles, the trail traverses through the refurbished train tunnel which is .81 miles. With entrances at both east and west sides, visitors can choose their starting point. The eastern trailhead, located at 215 Afton Depot Lane, is a flat access, ADA accessbile entrance with plenty of parking only .63 miles from the trail. The western trailhead, located at 483 Three Notched Mtn Hwy, is a steeply graded intermediate hike and is .81 miles from the parking lot to the tunnel entrance. The trail's moderate difficulty level ensures an enjoyable hike for most skill levels.
Pre-Hike Options in Waynebsoro:
Start your adventure in Waynesboro at Happ Coffee Roasters located in the Virginia Metalcrafters Marketplace. Grab an artisnal coffee and pastry in the industrial-chic vibes of the roastery. If you need something a more substantial, Weasie's Kitchen is a local favorite for a classic diner breakfast. Stock up on some kombucha from Blue Ridge Bucha on your way up to the trail. Blue Ridge Bucha is Virginia's first full-service kombucha taproom and on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays you can taste some flights or kombucha by the glass and pick up growlers, bottles, or cans to-go.
After your trek, unwind by exploring Waynesboro's vibrant downtown arts scene or doing the interactive outdoor Street Arts Trail. Waynesboro also has plenty of boutiques, museums, and local dining options in the charming downtown. Check out the Wayne Theatre's calendar for local productions as well as renowned national acts year-round.
The Virginia Metalcrafters Marketplace is another spot in Waynesboro to unwind after the Bule Ridge Tunnel Trail. Grab some delicious Italian inspired cuisine at Patina, catch a show at the Foundry or try local wines at Common Wealth Crush, a custom crush and wine incubator co-op. Basic City Beer Co. and The Showroom are also in VMM where you can have some craft beer or a speak-easy inspired cocktail while catching a free show and playing some arcade games.
For avid explorers, the proximity of the Shenandoah National Park offers a perfect extension to your trip. Discover the park's numerous hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and the scenic Skyline Drive less than 2 miles away from the Tunnel.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, renowned for its stunning views, starts right at the terminus of the Skyline Drive. In just the first five miles of the 469-mile drive, you can stop at a scenic overview, hike the famously rewarding Humpback Rocks Trail, and visit the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Trail where you can take an easy .25 mile hike through an outdoor museum that is reminiscent of an 1890s mountain farm.
Connection to Appalachian Trail:
Waynesboro serves as an ideal gateway to the Appalachian Trail, drawing hikers seeking an iconic long-distance trek or a quick day hike on the world famous trail. Only 2 miles from the city's limit, the AT fosters a deep-rooted connection of nature enthusiats, hikers, volunteers, and those who share a love for the outdoors. Learn more about the AT and the trail towns that support it from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail not only offers a glimpse into history but also serves as a springboard to a multitude of nearby adventures. Whether you're a history enthusiast, art lover, or an avid or casual hiker, Waynesboro's charm and its proximity to these iconic attractions make it the perfect basecamp for an unforgettable exploration of Virginia's beauty.
Plan your visit to Waynesboro and the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail for an enriching journey through time and nature, connecting with history and embracing the splendor of the outdoors.