Many of you have likely heard about the extension of the Dick & Willie Passage Trail which opened in Martinsville/Henry County last fall. Some of you may have biked or walked the trail to see how you like it; most likely you were pleasantly surprised if you had. If you haven’t, this is certainly a local gem, and one that will not disappoint.
Being in the midst of the winter season and then with the uncertainty of the coronavirus, I hadn’t been biking in a while. Last Saturday, the weather was so beautiful that I put my bike on the bike rack and headed out to the new trailhead along Spruce Street in Martinsville. Multiple cars were parked, which is no surprise, since outdoor activity is one of the few things we can do until the restrictions begin to wind down, provided we adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Beginning at the Spruce Street trailhead, the trail is basically level and offers scenic views of Mulberry Creek for nearly a half mile, at which point there is a fairly steep ascending grade followed by an immediate downhill grade. After this point, the trail shares the pavement with Country Club Drive for nearly a mile before picking up again. This is not a big deal at all, since Country Club Drive is a residential street with very low traffic volumes. The combination of the tree-lined – almost bucolic – setting, in addition to the relatively level grade of the road, make this a surprisingly pleasant walk or ride. No need to worry about getting lost either, since the signage directing users to the next trail segment is excellent. Even if there was no signage, when you come out onto Country Club Drive, you just turn left and continue until the road ends.
At the end of Country Club Drive, the trail resumes for about an additional 1.2 miles, where it terminates at the Smith River Sports Complex, which is located along the U.S. Route 58 Bypass and the Smith River just southeast of Martinsville in Henry County. This segment of trail generally comprises rolling topography (but not extreme), and a relatively level section as the Sports Complex is approached. About halfway along this segment, the Smith River comes into view, and this contributes to the outstanding scenery you’ll be treated to. Along the way, there are also numerous benches if you find you want to rest or just take in some of the scenery for a little while.
The Smith River Sports Complex, at the end of the trail, offers amenities which makes this destination ideal for trail users. There are a number of benches on which to sit and rest before you head back, and vending machines can be found at the main facility near the parking lot. In addition, you’ll come across vegetative plantings, a small nature trail near the Smith River, and a playground if children are tagging along – the latter of which is currently off limits due to coronavirus. An added asset of the Sports Complex is that if you want to walk or bike for recreation or exercise but you don’t want to make the return trip, it is a great place for a friend or relative to pick you up when you’re done.
The new Dick & Willie Passage Trail extension is certainly a recreational gem here in Martinsville and Henry County. With the nicer spring weather having been ushered in, this is a great resource to enjoy nature while getting a nice workout.