The Three Notched Trail is named after the historical road that extended from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley dating back to colonial times. Historically marked by three horizontal hatchet “notches” on trees along the way, the original TNT route only exists in a few sections of overgrown roadbed while much of the route is now modern highways, roads, or railroads. The purpose of this project is to reestablish the TNT as a non-motorized trail that will connect recreational and cultural opportunities, thereby enhancing our community’s health, environment, and economy.
The approximately 25 mile Three Notched Trail is part of a much more ambitious vision for a continuous “Mountains to the Sea” trail that would cross the Commonwealth from the Shenandoah Valley to the Atlantic Coast. Discussions are already underway about efforts to extend the Virginia Capital Trail (in Richmond) westward towards Charlottesville, connecting to the Old Mills Trail in eastern Albemarle County. The Three Notched Trail would continue this greenway from Charlottesville to Ivy and Crozet, and on to the enormously popular Blue Ridge Tunnel, thus connecting tourists visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail.
The trail will pass through the ¾ mile Blue Ridge Tunnel, completed in 1858. An engineering marvel in its day, it was dug simultaneously from the east and west through solid granite using only hand drills and black powder. The Blue Ridge Tunnel re-opened to the public as a park in 2020. Visitors can walk the pitch-black tunnel with flashlights to see the changing underground geology as well as the miniature wildlife residents of the tunnel.