Summer is the season in which outdoor activities are in full-swing, and these activities often continue well into the fall. Bicycling is one of many outdoor endeavors enjoyed this time of year, whether it’s mountain biking; road biking; or simply cruising the Dick & Willie, the Danville Riverwalk, or the Mayo River Rail Trail.
Many may be looking for opportunities to ride in scenic settings with little interference by road traffic. Likewise, local officials are always looking for ways to spur economic development through tourism in their localities. Recently, I had the opportunity to bicycle through Kentucky horse country, in the Lexington area. The main lure of the area is the attractive, rolling horse farms lined with fences and, of course, the beautiful horses. Add to this narrow rural roads, many of which comprise relatively low traffic volumes, and you have a great environment for bicycling.
One may wonder what scenic rides may be found closer to home and likewise, local officials may be considering how to enhance tourism opportunities in their communities, particularly with regard to bicycling. Our region offers much in the way of scenic rides on roads with low traffic volumes, and the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan is an excellent resource to help guide you to rewarding rides (This plan will be discussed in greater detail below). Such rides can be found in most every county in the West Piedmont Planning District, and some suggestions follow.
In Henry County, a road network located south of U.S. Route 58 near Spencer offers scenic rides with relatively low traffic volumes. Road such as Bouldin Road, J.S. Holland Road, George Taylor Road, and Moores Mill Road offer great rides with low traffic volumes. Additionally, Mountain Laurel Trails, a private but publicly-accessible site for mountain biking, is located right off of Horsepasture Price Road, at the end of Mount Laurel Trail. Visit https://mountainlaureltrails.com/ for more information. Pictured below: Microfilm Road in Henry County.
Patrick County, characterized by rural landscapes and mountains on its western flank, offers numerous opportunities for scenic bicycling on sparsely-traveled roads. Roads in the southern and western portion of the county – such as Squirrel Spur Road, Pedigo Ridge Road, Hatchers Chapel Road, and other roads in that vicinity – offer beautiful scenery and low traffic volumes. Squirrel Spur Road offers topographical relief, as it increases in altitude significantly, but offers the cyclist a gorgeous view of the valley below from a roadside rest as a reward for persistent cycling. Pictured below: Archie’s Creek Road in Patrick County.
Franklin County comprises rural landscapes interspersed with towns and villages. Like Patrick County, the western edge of Franklin County is mountainous, and offers beautiful views. When the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan was developed, the Western Franklin County Priority Zone was designated, which occupies almost the entire western side of the county from the Roanoke County line south to the Patrick County line. Located within are many scenic, lightly-traveled roads that offer views of agrarian and mountainous landscapes. Pictured below: Dillons Mill Road, Franklin County.
Pittsylvania County offers a number of rural roads that pass through rural and agricultural settings. Within this county can be found a US Route 29 Priority Route which offers cyclists a scenic ride with little traffic away from US Route 29 itself. The cities of Danville and Martinsville offer cyclists a variety of cultural and entertainment attractions as well as many places to eat or grab a beverage. Pictured below: David Giles Lane, Pittsylvania County.
The Beaches to Bluegrass Priority Route – a route conceived during development of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan – generally follows the proposed state-developed Beaches to Bluegrass Trail, and passes through Patrick, Henry, and Pittsylvania counties, as well as through the cities of Danville and Martinsville. This route consists of roads suitable for cycling, as well as multi-use trails such as the Dick & Willie Trail, the Danville Riverwalk Trail, and the Mayo River Rail Trail.
As noted above, the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan is an indispensable resource to help you determine where to bicycle in the region. You can navigate to the interactive map here: https://wppdc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=abfe3df1b6ec4769aff2253d528fe2e9&extent=-80.3966,36.5503,-79.3420,37.0073. Specifically, the interactive map portion of the plan provides a number of routes recommended for bicycling; these are denoted by green lines. Furthermore, you can determine approximately average daily traffic volume, the speed limit, and road surface of many road segments throughout the region. Simply click on any portion of a road, and a small attribute table will pop up displaying this information. It must be mentioned that some road segments do not have this information available, and “0” will be shown, but many do. Clickable points of interest are also included on this interactive map.