The Ringgold Rail Trail (also known as the Richmond and Danville Rail-Trail) follows part of the right-of-way of the old railroad of the same name, an important transportation corridor for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The railroad linked the Confederate capital of Richmond with Southside, the area between the James River and the North Carolina border, where hospitals, prisons and supply depots were located. Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Army took the route of this railroad line when they retreated from Richmond near the end of the war. They also used it to carry war supplies and Union prisoners.
Today, 5.5 miles of this historical corridor, which eventually became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system, is the scenic Richmond and Danville Rail-Trail. Also called the Ringgold Trail, the trail opened in January 2001. It travels past farmlands and through light woods, providing a flat route for a walk or bike ride in the rural Virginia countryside on the outskirts of Danville.
The trail has three trailheads. The Kerns Church Road Trailhead (eastern end) and in only 1 mile you will reach a wetland area with prime waterfowl watching. The ride is comfortable for bicyclists and easy for hikers of all ages; it’s also wheelchair accessible. If you’re looking for evidence of the trail’s railroading past, the Ringgold Road Trailhead (western trailhead) has a restored railroad depot and an old red caboose. There is also a central trailhead at Shawnee Road that is 1.5 miles from Ringgold Road and 4 miles from Shawnee Road Trailheads.
Currently, about 2 miles of the trail is open to the public; the rest of the trail was rendered unusable by Tropical Storm Michael in 2018. While work is underway to repair the remainder of the trail, the Shawnee Road Trailhead remains open.