Grateful Boomers try biking, as they explore Blue Ridge

Published 4:53 pm Sunday, June 2, 2024

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The Grateful Boomers tried something different recently, exploring nature on bikes. The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail is a rail to trail in Nelson County. This 14-mile out and back trail is rich in history, flora and fauna, scenery, and offers some culture in the form of a children’s book.

Starting in 1914 and continuing for 65 years, this railway transported goods including chestnut, timber then later materials related to mining operations in Piney River. The many setbacks for the railway included derailments, blight ending the chestnut industry, and a major flood from Hurricane Camille. In 1980, the remaining mine moved and the railway ended its operation.

Thanks to the Rails to Trails Conservancy, in 2003 the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail became an outdoor space for walkers and bikers to enjoy.

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The trail begins with a story walk comprising the 18 pages of the book The Gigantic Turnip. Even big kids like the Boomers can be entertained by the clever story and colorful illustrations.

Tiny gravel makes up the trail surface. The unmanicured sides support lush plant growth, the perfect habitat for attracting birds, butterflies, and small critters. The group spotted an eagle on the largest of five bridges, which crosses close to the confluence of the Piney and Tye Rivers. In addition to the numerous native plants and blooming wildflowers, the nonnative privet and honeysuckle scented the trail the entire ride.

This easy-riding shaded trail has lots of benches and picnic tables, pleasing forests and understory, and views of rivers and cow pastures.

Who are the Grateful Boomers?

And if you’re wondering who the Grateful Boomers are, they’re a group of friends from Buckingham County, all over the age of 60, who want to enrich their lives through both meaningful friendships and challenging outdoor adventures.

They believe that aging gratefully with a high level of curiosity about everything, will create the best environment to remain mentally and physically active. Collectively, the group’s interests run from biking to hiking, kayaking and photography to reading, knitting, gardening and travel. They hope that by sharing their adventures, the group will inspire others to do the same.