New River Trail State Park is a 57-mile long linear park in Southwest Virginia. It follows the abandoned N & W Railway through the counties of Grayson, Carroll, Wythe and Pulaski and the city of Galax.
The trail parallels New River, one of the oldest rivers in North America and the second oldest in the world (The Nile is the oldest). Gorgeous views of this ancient river can be seen from the trails as you hike, bike or ride horseback. Also along the trail are 2 tunnels, 3 major bridges and nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles.
Visitors to this peaceful park enjoy not only the trails but also fishing, tubing, kayaking, camping, picnicking and birdwatching.
Activities at New River Trail State Park
When you visit this Virginia State Park you’ll not only have the opportunity to explore inside the park but also around it, in the many small towns that surround the park. Hike, bike, ride horses, camp, picnic and learn while enjoying the peacefulness of nature.
The Foster Falls location inside the park houses the Mark E. Hufeisen Horse Complex, The Discovery Center, The Depot Gift Shop, Foster Falls Boat & Bike Livery, a playground and picnic area. Inside The Discovery Center you’ll find an indoor theater, aquarium, educational programs and fun activities. The Livery also has snacks, drinks, horse rentals and a shuttle service.
And since the park passes through 4 counties it serves as a link to numerous outdoor recreational areas including Mt Rogers Recreation Area,
the Dannelly Fitness Complex in Galax and Shot Tower Historical State Park.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to New River Trail State Park:
Boating at New River Trail State Park
Since this unique park parallels a 39-mile stretch of the New River, boating and tubing are very popular. Enjoy floating down the river past untamed mountain scenery, craggy rock cliffs and large rock outcroppings.
Public boat ramps are located at Allisonia, Austinville and Foster Falls. Foster Falls Boat & Livery has seasonal rentals of canoes, kayaks and tubes. Call (276) 699-1034 for more information.
Fishing at New River Trail State Park
New River has a plentiful supply of bass, yellow perch, walleye, catfish, muskellunge, bluegill, black crappie and sunfish just waiting to be caught. Access the river from Foster Falls or find a quiet area along the trails. Just remember to pick up a Virginia freshwater fishing license ahead of time.
Trails at New River Trail State Park
New River Trail State Park has 57 miles of multi-use trails that are ideal for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Most of this trail system is flat or gently sloping and rated easy to moderate. It crosses bridges, tunnels, fields, streams and wildlife along the river and through 4 counties.
Hoover Mountain Biking Area has a separate section containing 5 loops and 7 trails that is off-limits for horse and golf carts. This section can be accessed from Allisonia, between the boat ramp and Hiwassee River Bridge on Julia Simpkins Road.
There are various entrances to the trails: Allisonia, Chestnut Yard, Cliffview, Dannelly Park (near Galax), Draper, Dora Junction (near Pulaski), Foster Falls, Fries, Galax, Gambetta, Hiwassee and Ivanhoe.
Here are a couple of the popular trails at New River Trail State Park:
New River Trail – Hike or ride the full 49.7 mile moderate trail that is part of the Rails to Trails Program. This wide trail is made of mostly crushed gravel and is ideal for mountain bikes.
Enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside as you pass through woodlands, wildflower fields and cross bridges with breathtaking views of wildlife and the New River.
- Gambetta to Fries Junction – This section of the trail is 4.9 miles long, easy and open for pedestrians, bicycles and horses. This scenic path follows alongside Chestnut Creek to Fries where it empties into New River.
- Draper to Hiwassee River Bridge – A 8.9 mile multi-use section of the larger trail that crosses a wide flat wooden bridge over the river.
Horseback Riding at New River Trail State Park
All but a 2-mile section (Galax to Cliffview) of New River Trail is open for horseback riding. Horse trailer parking is available at Austinville, Cliffview, Draper, Fries, Ivanhoe, Pulaski (Dora Junction) and Foster Falls (the Mark E. Hufeisen Horse Complex. Virginia state law requires visitors to carry a negative Coggins report for each horse brought to the park.
Wildlife Viewing at New River Trail State Park
Chipmunks, squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, snakes, frogs and turtles are all common along the trails of southwestern Virginia. You may even encounter a black bear. The quiet serenity inside the park creates a perfect area for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
And you’ll see many native and migratory birds during your visit especially during the spring and summer. Some birds that you may notice are hawks, bald eagles, osprey, cardinal, blue jays, wild turkeys, blackbirds, chickadees, sparrows and finches.
Camping at New River Trail State Park
New River Trail State Park has 3 primitive campgrounds in 3 different locations throughout the park. Campsites are either walk-in or boat-in and there are no bathhouses.
Here’s a look at each:
Cliffview Campground – A trailside campground with 12 primitive tent-only sites that overlook Chestnut Creek. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post and access to drinking water (no water is available between November and March).
To access these sites park at the Dannelly Fitness Complex and cross the footbridge. Remember to attach your confirmation letter to your car’s dashboard (for overnight parking).
Millrace Campground – This primitive campground has 21 tent-only hike-in sites that overlook the New River. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post. Drinking water is available.
This campground is located at Foster Falls in Wythe County, 24 miles from the Cliffview Campground. Remember to attach your confirmation letter to your car’s dashboard (for overnight parking).
Double Shoals Campground – An honor system campground with 2 primitive sites along the New River Canoe Trail. The campsites are only accessible by river or trail and there is a self-pay system onsite for first-come, first-served use. Campers must bring their own water.
These campsites are located at mile marker P-40 on the Fries branch of New River Trail State Park. Be aware that the land around Double Shoals is privately owned and there is no parking available.
Pets at New River Trail State Park
Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet or in an enclosed area. Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended at any time.
There are several entrances into the park. The park parallels the New River for 39 miles and passes through Grayson, Carroll, Wythe and Pulaski counties.
*There are no designated swimming areas in the park because the river may be hazardous due to swift currents, sudden drop offs and unseen obstructions.
*Some sections of the trail are isolated from the road and towns. If you plan to hike or ride for a long time make sure that you bring snacks and water with you. Non-flush toilets are located along the trails.
New River Trail State Park
116 Orphanage Dr
Max Meadows, VA 24360
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at New River Trail State Park: