Virginia Tech, the Friends of the Huckleberry, and the Town of Blacksburg have worked out an agreement that allows for the expansion of the Huckleberry Trail from the US-460 tunnel to the Hethwood Bridge. Virginia Tech will be granting a property easement that allows for the trail to be extended across university property.

“We have been working closely with Virginia Tech and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to finalize the plans for this portion of the trail,” said Bill Ellenbogen, president, Friends of the Huckleberry. “We appreciate the college’s great cooperation and sharing their land so everyone in the community can benefit.” The trail will cross farmland that is managed and used by the college.

Phase one of the project will take Hethwood trail traffic off of Plantation Road and reroute it along Stoubles Creek, shaving one-third of a mile from the current Hethwood trail. The trail improvements will make it a more effective way for students and faculty to commute to campus and help reduce the pressure on roads and parking. The trail improvements will also add to the college’s current soil and water conservation plan by further stabilizing the creek and adding to the buffer that keeps livestock out.

Phase one of the project will cost $78,000 and is being funded by the Hethwood Foundation/Foxridge, the Town of Blacksburg, and the Friends of the Huckleberry. Virginia Tech’s Office of Transportation will begin culvert work in March and Sawyer Paving, a private contractor, will begin work in April. The project is scheduled to be completed in May.

Phase two of the project will connect the trail at the US-460 tunnel to Plantation Road. The Friends of the Huckleberry hope to secure funding to begin this portion of the project in 2007.

The current trail extends 5.76 miles from Miller Street in Blacksburg to the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. This expansion helps bring the Friends of the Huckleberry closer to achieving their goal of taking the trail to the Jefferson National Forest.