Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 22
The GOOD WALK
The Riverwalk at Lynchburg, Virginia
This pleasant, flat walk combines out-in-the-woods with right-next-to town.
Story and photos by Leonard Adkins
My morning outing starts with a cappuccino inside Dublin
3 Coffeehouse located just a few steps from downtown
Lynchburg's Riverwalk. Enjoying the ambiance created
by the wooden beams and exposed stone walls of a converted tobacco warehouse, the espresso is soon coursing
through my body, indicating it's time to get moving.
Grade schoolers are streaming into the Amazement
Square Children's Museum as I walk eastward, surprised
by how many people are on the trail at 9:30 on a Friday
morning: young mothers pushing baby carriages, joggers
of various shapes and sizes, senior citizens taking leisurely strolls, dog walkers, dozens of bicycle riders and-what
seems to be inevitable in today's world-someone so absorbed in looking at her smart phone that others have to
swerve away to avoid being walked into.
Just beyond the rental bicycles displayed on the lawn
of Bikes Unlimited, the trail turns to cross the James River on a curving, former railroad bridge, providing grandstand views up and down the stream. Couples, emulating a European ritual, have hooked padlocks onto the
bridge's chain link fence as a symbol of their unbreakable love.
The paved trail on Purcival Island, once a busy rail
yard for Norfolk & Western, is arrow-straight and lined
by fringed phacelia and other wildflowers in spring. The
not-quite-ripe wild strawberries have me making a mental note to return here in about a week, yet I almost
missed some of the walk's highlights. It is thanks to the
advice of a fellow walker that I wandered onto a couple
of the dirt side trails weaving into the woods. On one I
found the foundation of what was once the rail yard's
scalehouse. On another, I chanced upon a great blue
heron trolling for a meal in the shallow water beside the
island (just as the city's parks and recreation website had
asserted I would!).
About two miles into the walk, the trail crosses onto
the river's northern side. Its character changes as it is
now is bordered by private property and no trespassing
signs, but for the next 1.5 miles continues to be lined by
wildflowers and shaded by overhanging trees. It's obvious that the old rail bed continues when I turn around
at the point where Riverwalk's pavement comes to end.
I wonder if there are plans to extend it someday.
I planned to end the walk by checking out Riverviews Artspace when I noticed Waterstone Pizza directly
across the street from Riverwalk. Surely the paintings
and other gallery exhibits can wait for an hour for me
to enjoy a fire roasted pizza and a cold craft beer?