The Trail

Three Notched Trail Concept Map

The initial phase of the Three Notched Trail (TNT) is approximately 25 miles, extending between Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. No trail alignment has been determined.  The RAISE Grant will conduct public outreach and determine a preferred alignment. 

Future expansion phases include extending the trail westward from the Blue Ridge Tunnel to Waynesboro and an eastward trail expansion from Charlottesville to Richmond. When fully completed, Virginia will boast a continuous Mountains-to-Sea trail.  

Three Notched History

The Three Notched Trail (TNT) is named after the historic 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 Three Notched route only exists in a few sections of overgrown roadbed while much of the route is now modern highways, roads, or railroads. 

This project will re-establish original sections of the Three Notched road as a non-motorized trail that will connect recreational and cultural opportunities, thereby enhancing our community’s health, environment, and economy.  

The Blue Ridge Tunnel

The trail will pass through the ¾ mile Blue Ridge Tunnel, completed in 1858 for railroad service.  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 Tunnel re-opened to the public as a park in 2020.  Visitors can walk or bike the pitch black tunnel with flashlights to see the changing underground geology as well as the miniature wildlife residents of the tunnel.

Called the "Coolest Hike in Virginia" as the tunnel is between 55 to 65 degrees year-round.

Connecting to Nature's Playground

The western terminus of the Three Notched Trail will be the Blue Ridge Tunnel, situated at the intersection of:

  • The Appalachian Trail
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive

Imagine a trail extending to this natural playground!