Trail Experience

The Jackson River Scenic Trail is located in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia. It follows the route of what once was the Hot Springs Branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Much of the trail runs parallel to its namesake Jackson River.

The trail has grown in recent years, both in length and in popularity. The southern terminus of the 16 mile trail is located in Covington, VA, and extends into neighboring Bath County.

The mostly flat terrain and finely crushed gravel surface make the Jackson River Scenic Trail handicap accessible and a pleasant walk or ride for families. Within minutes of leaving an access point, it feels like remote wilderness. The views include the river, waterfalls, rugged cliffs and distant mountains. It’s common to see wildlife and a wide variety or birds along the journey.

Jackson River Scenic Trail in the fall by Jada CallendarThe trail is a great spot for outdoor fun in all four seasons. Wildflowers are abundant during the spring months and birds return from their winter migration. During autumn, the tree canopy, as well as the nearby mountains, turn brilliant red, orange and yellow. Cross country skiers love the trail’s mostly flat terrain for some mid-winter exercise.

runners participating in the Jackson River Scenic Trail MarathonThe Jackson River Scenic Trail Marathon has grown to become a signature event for the trail and the entire community. Each June, runners and walkers participate in a marathon, half-marathon, 10k, 5k and one-mile fun run. 

Trail Etiquette

  • The trail is for non-motorized traffic only
  • Stay to the right except when passing
  • When passing walkers/joggers/bikers, pass on the left and indicate aloud “passing on the left” or use a device like a bell.
  • Although helmet use is not mandatory for bikers or horseback riders, it is highly recommended especially for youth
  • Please do not block gates or park on the trail
  • Obey all signs at road crossings
  • Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash not exceeding six feet in length
  • Pack out all litter, including animal waste and cigarette butts. Help keep the Jackson River Scenic Trail clean.
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Alleghany Highlands Trails site
To learn about more trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, visit


Alleghany Highlands Blueway site
For ways to enjoy the Jackson River and our other lakes and rivers, visit

Alleghany Highlands tourism site
Plan a visit to the Alleghany Highlands

Parks and Recreation logoThe Jackson River Scenic Trail is managed by Alleghany County Parks & Recreation