Rivanna Trail around Charlottesville

Rivanna Trail around Charlottesville

Here in Charlottesville, we have a true example of what happens when volunteers get together and work on a community project – the Rivanna Trail around the city.

The Rivanna Trails Foundation (RTF) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1992 by area citizens with a dream to create a trail system throughout the greenbelt of the Rivanna river and its tributaries, according to their website. The goal is to establish a footpath encircling Charlottesville generally by following the Rivanna River, Meadow Creek and Moore’s Creek.

Now, 25 years later, residents in our area, and visitors alike, can take advantage of nature-related recreation and environmental education that are also enjoyed by teachers, bird watchers, walking clubs, and other local groups with environmental concerns. 

The RTF believes that well-maintained neighborhood trails provide children with a safe setting in which to play, a place for adults to exercise, for neighbors to get to know each other in a new way, and for community members to enjoy the beauty of our riverine areas.


Community Involvement

RTF relies on volunteers to help build and maintain the trail system by hosting Saturday work parties at least one Saturday a month – the next one will take place Saturday, Aug. 12, and volunteers are asked to meet at the RTF equipment shed at 2030 Morton Drive, near the Meadowcreek Gardens and behind Bodo’s and the English Inn, at 8:45 am – so you can fuel up with bagels and coffee before you work.

Volunteers usually meet at the tool shed and carpool to the work site, but if you want to go directly to the project or expect to be late, just contact the work party leader.

Please wear clothes suitable for getting dirty in a forest environment, and bring work gloves. If you bring your own tools be sure to label them with your name. RTF also have tools and gloves you can borrow.

The RTF foresees trail maintenance as a collaborative effort, with neighbors joining in to maintain their neighborhood trail segments with pride and a sense of ownership. To find out more about volunteering or to help your neighborhood Trail Adopter, email [email protected].

Membership dues offset costs associated with the establishment and maintenance of trails and footbridges and the publication of maps. The Rivanna Trails exist thanks to generous landowners and the work of many willing volunteers.

The RTF’s tagline is: “Never underestimate what a few volunteers can do.”

Trail rules

The Rivanna Trails cross private property, and RTF thanks those land owners for their kind permission to let people use their property. Please respect their privacy and property rights by using the trails only during daylight hours, staying on the trails, keeping noise to a minimum, and not littering.

Use of the Rivanna Trails is subject to the following rules:

* Keep to the trail.

* Do not trespass on adjacent property.

* No motorized vehicles.

* Access between sunrise and sunset only.

* Dogs must be leashed.

Rivanna Trail Loop – from the website

Woolen Mills to Riverview Park

(.41 miles, .41 miles from mile 0, moderate)

Mile 0 is at the railroad trestle. Follow the sandy trail from Moore’s Creek to the old Woolen Mills dam site; climb uphill to left. Roadwalk: turn onto E. Market Street, right onto Riverside Avenue, right into Riverview Park.

Riverview Park to Route 250 at Free Bridge 

(1.48 miles, 1.89 from mile 0, easy)

Follow the hard-surfaced trail through the playground to the Rivanna River. A spur trail (.39 miles) at the end of the parking lot makes a short loop hike possible within the park.

Route 250 at Free Bridge to Holmes Avenue

(1.64 miles, 3.53 from mile 0, moderate)

Follow the hard-surfaced trail to VFW fields. Just into the woods, turn left away from the river towards River Road. Right onto River Road, right on Locust Avenue; at the end, turn left on Locust Lane and then take an immediate right onto Megan Court. Look for trailhead sign on the right as you enter Megan Court, and head into the forest. At the bottom of the hill, the trail continues along Meadow Creek; a spur across the creek leads to the River North Trail.

Holmes Avenue to Park Street

(.59 miles, 4.12 from mile 0, moderate)

Cross Holmes Avenue and follow Meadow Creek. 

Park Street to the Norfolk-Southern RR underpass 

(1.12 miles, 5.25 from mile 0, moderate)

After crossing under the Park Street bridge, walk along Melbourne and turn right onto the  Warner Parkway Trail. Follow the paved path for a couple hundred feet; at the bottom of the first hill, turn right at the trail sign to return to the rustic Trail. The trail crosses the creek on the Parkway Trail bridge, and then immediately turns left towards the culvert. There are numerous spur trails behind Charlottesville High School, into McIntire Park and connecting to Meadowbrook Heights Road

Norfolk-Southern RR underpass to Greenbrier/Brandywine Drives

(.64 miles, 5.88 from mile 0, easy)

We hope to build a foot crossing through the culvert. It is illegal to cross over the railroad tracks or through the culvert. To bypass the culvert, turn left at the culvert through the kudzu patch and pick up a spur trail leading back to Melbourne (or, back-track along the previous segment or the paved path). Turn right and follow Melbourne past the high school until it ends at Kenwood. Turn left on Kenwood, immediately right onto Galloway Drive, and then the second left onto Jamestown Drive. Follow Jamestown until it ends at the cul de sac. Cross the bridge over Meadow Creek into Greenbrier Park, then turn left to rejoin the rustic Trail. Spurs on both side of the bridge lead east to the railroad culvert. (The City plans to build an additional bridge at the culvert to make a loop within the park.)

Greenbrier/Brandywine Drives to Hydraulic Road

(1.07 miles, 6.95 from mile 0, moderate)

Cross Brandywine Drive; follow the clearing and watch for the rock hop across Meadow Creek on the left. Use caution crossing the creek. A bridge is planned for this location in 2017.

Hydraulic Road to Emmet Street (Rt. 29)

(.62 miles, 7.57 from mile 0, moderate) 

Walk upstream beside Meadow Creek as it makes its way under two major roadways. After passing under Hydraulic Road, turn right at the top of the hill, along the sidewalk over the creek, and then left through the culvert under the 250 Bypass. Continue through forest near City Gardens and the disc golf course. Turn right onto Morton Drive.

Emmet Street to Barracks Road

(1.51 miles, 8.19 from mile 0, easy)

Cross Emmet Street at the signal and proceed strait along Earhart Street to a footbridge on the left. Remain on the trail when traversing the Federal Executive Institute property and stay off the ropes course equipment. Turn left onto Cedars Court after second footbridge. Use caution to cross Barracks Road to rejoin the Trail.

Barracks Road to Old Ivy Road 

(1.74 miles, 9.70 from mile 0, moderate)

Follow the headwaters of Meadow Creek, past the foundation of the county’s 1806 Poor House, through a forest of mountain laurel and chestnut oaks, through two large fields, and past a small pond. Cross Leonard Sandridge Drive at the crosswalk, and continue to Old Ivy Road.

Old Ivy Road to Ivy Road (Rt. 250)


It is illegal to cross over the railroad tracks. An acceptable detour is to turn right down Old Ivy Road, under the railroad culvert to Ivy Road/Rt. 250, and then along the north side of Ivy Road to a point opposite the UVa visitor’s center. Use extreme caution to cross Ivy Road.

Ivy Road to Fontaine Avenue 

(1.88 miles, 11.72 from mile 0, moderate)

Start near the 250 Bypass off ramp. Keep your eyes open for RTF blazes that mark the main path around Observatory Hill–there are numerous connecting trails throughout this area.

Fontaine Avenue to Stribling Avenue 

(.59 miles, 12.31 from mile 0, moderate)

Cross Fontaine. Walk under pines parallel to the 250 Bypass. At the trailhead, cross directly across the road (or turn right up the hill to the Department of Forestry Nature Trail). Cross the creek on stepping stones. Use caution crossing the creek. The adjoining Department of Forestry Nature Trail loop (1 mile) contains several trees unusual to Virginia, remnants of a 1930s tree nursery.

Stribling Avenue to Sunset Avenue

Turn right on Stribling Avenue, then right again immediately after crossing under the railroad bridge. Pass through the field, cross the driveway, and then descend to the rock hop across Moore’s Creek. Use caution crossing the creek. Turn left onto Sunset Avenue Extended, and then right just past the apartment complex and before the pedestrian bridge.

Sunset Avenue to Azalea Park

From Sunset Avenue, turn right and walk along the creek to Old Lynchburg Road. Use caution crossing the road, and turn right into Azalea Park. Follow the paved path past the playing fields towards the community gardens. Continue down the pathway along the south side of the gardens to Moore’s Creek.

Azalea Park to 5th Street Ext.

(.87 miles, 14.54 from mile 0, moderate)

Cross the creek on stepping stones, continue through forest and field. Use extreme caution crossing the creek; may be impassible in high water. Look for plentiful wildlife in the park’s vegetated buffer along Moore’s Creek. At the open playing fields, keep to the left towards the culvert under 5th Street.

5th Street Ext. to Jordan Park

(2.3 miles, 16.84 from mile 0, moderate)

Turn left out of the culvert, and then right after crossing the footbridge. The trail crosses Bent Creek Road, which leads into the 5th Street Station shopping complex, then turns left up the hillside towards Harris Street. Follow 5th Street past Willoughby to Bering Street, then right on High Street and left on Hartmans Mill Road to Rougemont Avenue and Jordan Park.

Jordan Park to Quarry Park 

(1.07 miles, 17.91 from mile 0, moderate)

Cross through Jordan Park, and follow the trail along the creek and under Avon Street. Use caution to walk south along Avon Street to the City Maintenance yards, just past the Self Storage center. Turn left into the city yard, and look for the trail sign at the far end of the parking lot. Rejoin the wooded trail. Climb a long gentle hill through pines to high bluffs overlooking Moore’s Creek and on to Monticello Avenue (Route 20)

Quarry Park to the Woolen Mills 

(1.64 miles, 19.55 from mile 0, difficult)

The trail continues under Monticello Avenue, and hugs Moore’s Creek as it makes its way to the Rivanna River. Be prepared to scramble over rocks, trample through sand, and see a variety of wildlife, exposed rock cliffs, the old livestock market, and historic mill buildings. Crossing the railroad trestle is both illegal and dangerous. Use extreme caution crossing through the creek.

As an alternate road walk to Riverview Park, take a left on Monticello Avenue, then the first right and then left onto Monticello Road. Take the second right, onto Linden Avenue, and then the first left, onto Nassau Street. At the livestock market, bear right onto Franklin Street and proceed all the way to Market Street. Turn right on Market, then left on Riverside to the park.


River North Trail

The River North Trail is a spur of the Rivanna Trail loop that runs from a point between Locust Lane and Holmes Avenue north through Pen Park and Dunlora.

Meadow Creek to Pen Park Lane

Trail closed. This section is closed by development. The City is hoping to open a route around the golf course so the trail can remain along the river in its entirety through Pen Park.

Pen Park Lane to River Run

Please respect signage and stay on trails open to the public.

River Run and Dunlora

Please respect signage and stay on trails open to the public.


The trail is open. The trail ends at the railroad culvert.

Rivanna Trails App Now Available

Download the Rivanna Trail app to navigate a detailed real-time map of the trail through your iPhone or Android device. The app covers the main Rivanna Trail loop, and offers

a “you are here” icon to pinpoint your exact location on the trail, and a zoomable interface to help navigate from one trailhead to another and along street walks icons highlighting trailheads, road intersections, bridges, and stream crossings.

# of Views : 1290
Sign Out
Charles McDonaldBy Charles McDonald - Charles, and his firm, Charlottesville Solutions, are known locally and around the world for helping people relocate to the Charlottesville area. His background (running his own engineering firm for 20+ years in the Silicon Valley) has given him the skills to not only develop this site but also to manage a stellar group of agents!
Charles McDonald, REALTOR® and Principal Broker, is Licensed to sell Real Estate in Virginia. 434-515-1585
Charlottesville Solutions, 2013 Woodbrook Court, Charlottesville VA 22901
Copyright © 2005-2018 Charlottesville Solutions - All Rights Reserved - Terms of Use (Legal)