The Best of Charlottesville’s Rivanna Trail

Rivanna Trailhead Market


The Best of Charlottesville’s Rivanna Trail is around every turn. This trail itself is Exhibit A that Cville is as cool as its hype.  Born over 30 years ago, today the Rivanna Trail remains as essential as it is magical. Its 20 miles of city-encircling, urban-escaping, recreation path rivals the best in America. Here’s what we consider top moments in the circuit.

Download the Rivanna Trail App or view the trail here.

On September 25  the 20th Annual Loop de Ville occurs.  This outing for trail enthusiasts begins at dawn and follows the trail counterclockwise. Click here for information on the Loop. 

Like verses of a song, numerous segments of the trail can transport you from urban reality. Jeff Wilbur, longtime board member of the Rivanna Trail Foundation, recommends his three favorite stretches of the 20+ mile trail:

  • The O-Hill section – from Fontaine to Ivy Road. From the parking lot on top of O-Hill there are several trails, not all part of the RT, that lead down to the RT with a myriad number of loops and connections in the area. This section, just under two miles in length, is used by both students and neighborhood dog walkers as well as mountain bikers and runners. The topography, trees, and plant life instantly remove you from the urban to the natural jungle.
  • Barracks Rd to Leonard Sandridge Rd – You can easily park and enter from “The Park” at the UVA North Grounds. Extending just over one mile in length, this section boasts a healthy deer presence along with fox and lots of birdlife – in conjunction with student runners, bikers, and walkers.
  • Pen Park – The spur section that runs north along the Rivanna River from Pen Park is a wonderfully quiet woodland walk which traverses hillsides, skirts the river, and runs through farm fields for a mile and a half. It’s a quieter section, where serenity sleeps.

Bring your water, strap on a pair of trail runners or hiking shoes, and head out to become lost in Charlottesville.