Beginning in 2020, RIDE Solutions began to create Self-Guided Bicycle Tours around its service region as a way to enable people to become more comfortable with bicycling, and to learn about new bike routes they can use, particularly between their homes and destinations they are trying to get to. Many of these self-guided tours had been created in the Roanoke area, but two in the West Piedmont Region had been identified for western Franklin County, and are entitled “Scenic Views – Dillon Mill/Adney Gap” and “Scenic Views – Wades Gap Road,” while one had recently been identified in Patrick County, and is noted as “Scenic Views – Patrick Springs to Stuart.” Please visit https://ridesolutions.org/bicycle-tours/ to visit these, and all of the other self-guided bike tours in RIDE Solutions’ service area. I recently posted a blog about the “Scenic Views – Patrick Springs to Stuart” route that I rode in this beautiful springtime weather. I described the rolling hills, scenic beauty, as well as the low traffic volumes along most of the loop, which serves as a great way to travel on two wheels between Patrick Springs and Stuart, or vice-versa. Today, I’m summarizing a similar ride, which has been named “Scenic Views – Patrick Springs to Critz.” You can learn more about this ride by visiting https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36176785.
As I started out riding this route, I began at Patrick Springs Park, located just off of Mt View Loop, which intersects Spring Road in Patrick Springs. I traveled north on Spring Road to its intersection with Dogwood Road, which is a distance of about 0.6-mile from Patrick Springs Park. Spring Road is relatively level, so it’s easy to bike, though there is some traffic and there are no shoulders, so use caution if riding on Spring Road.
From Spring Road, I turned right onto Dogwood Road, which is characterized by far less traffic volume than Spring Road. Dogwood Road is more hilly than Spring Road, though as far as bicycling goes, the hills are manageable. Riding on Dogwood Road, you’ll be treated to rural scenery, you’ll likely see some livestock grazing, and you may even hear a rooster, as I did! As I continued toward Critz, I began to see a greater concentration of houses, and I passed a church, followed by the Hardin Reynolds Elementary School. The distance I bicycled along Dogwood Road from Patrick Springs to Critz (near the intersection with Abram Penn Highway) is a very manageable 3.6 miles.
As you enter Critz, you’ll find the Hardin Reynolds Elementary School on your left, a gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Abram Penn Highway and Hardin Reynolds Road, which would be a good place to stop for a drink or a snack; a post office is also down the road from the intersection. In addition to these establishments, the Critz area is home to a number of historic structures which hearken back to an earlier time in history, many of which now appear abandoned, or at least, underutilized. Critz, like Stuart, served as a stop on the Danville & Western Railway Company, also known as the “Dick & Willie,” which ran from Stuart east through Martinsville, before terminating in Danville. The Dick & Willie served Patrick County from the late 19th century until about World War II, before ending service to the County. And, like many towns and villages throughout history, Critz likely owes its existence to the railroad. As you ride through Critz, you can see the testament to the Dick & Willie – the remnants of a more vibrant community once anchored by the railroad.
Located only about a half-mile north of Critz, along Abram Penn Highway, is the entrance to the nearly 800-acre Reynolds Homestead, which was an estate owned by the tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds. The Homestead, once known as Rock Spring Plantation, is now a national historic landmark with beautiful grounds and natural features that also serves an educational facility for the community and Region. Virginia Tech has a presence at the Homestead, where it operates the Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center, as well as a Community Enrichment Center, which offers classes, exhibitions, and other events. If you live in or near Patrick Springs, this would be a great place to bike to in order to take part in a personal enrichment class, or possibly to take in some local history.
On the return trip, I began riding on Dogwood Road, but then veered to the left on Santa Claus Lane to view different scenery. Santa Claus Lane is less hilly than Dogwood Road and offers nice views of pastoral countryside and mountains. The entire length of Santa Claus Lane that I biked on was 1.5 miles.
I then turned right onto Scenic Drive, which will lead you back to Dogwood Road. Scenic Drive is largely residential, characterized by low traffic volumes, as are many of the other roads comprising this loop. The only drawback is that the second half of Scenic Drive, heading northward back to Dogwood Road, is largely uphill, which can be challenging for less avid bicyclists. The entire distance of Scenic Road, from Santa Claus Lane to Dogwood Road, is also about 1.5 miles in length.
The entire length of this route is approximately 8.9 miles. However, should you decide to simply ride Dogwood Road rather than including Santa Claus Lane and Scenic Drive, the length of the trip between Patrick Springs and Critz would be just over seven miles round-trip.
Riding between Patrick Springs and Critz, you will certainly have the option of simply riding on Dogwood Road, which will save some time and mileage, and you will avoid the hills associated with Scenic Drive.
If you’re using your bike to ride from home to the Reynolds Homestead for a class or to take in some local history for the day, or perhaps you teach at the Hardin Reynolds Elementary School, don’t forget to log your trip in the RIDE Solutions app to earn points toward rewards, which is available for free at www.ridesolutions.org! May is also Bike Month, so if you decide to ride this as a Self-Guided Bike Tour, you’ll be automatically entered to win a prize if you RSVP at www.ridesolutions.org/bikemonth and you log your trip into the “Ride with GPS app.”