Walking the Rockfish Valley Trail


Living in Nellysford, I take my exercise not at the gym but outside, on the byways of Nelson County. Those include not only the little roads that wind up the hollows, but a trail system lacing the Rockfish Valley just south of Nellysford.

Rockfish Valley Trail

Unlike the Appalachian Trail or the paths through county parks, these trails are not on public land. They’re created and maintained by the Rockfish Valley Foundation, a group of folks who work hard at arranging river restoration, getting historic markers installed, seeking grants for kiosks and footbridges, and countless other details. The land is leased, from a private landowner and a land trust, by the foundation.

As a neighbor, I’m thrilled that I’m actually invited to walk and run in this stunning place, rather than being kept out by a No Trespassing sign. There’s more than recreation at stake: The trail is a prime place to spot birds, observe waterways and identify trees and plants. In other words, it’s a place where folks can get educated about the environment.

I think that’s the key to keeping sustainability from becoming so abstract that people lose interest. And I appreciate it when property owners come up with ways to use their land for the greater good.

Anyone else made use of the Rockfish trails? Have another privately-owned spot where you experience the outdoors?