New trail opens in State Forest

Published 8:45 am Friday, February 9, 2024

Just under two years since Charlotte State Forest opened up, it has a new addition for everyone to use. The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) announced Monday that it has opened a Multi-Use Recreational Trail in the forest. 

The trail covers 8.5 miles of forest and wetlands, built in a rough “figure 8” path. DOF officials said it was designed to be used for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding or if you just want to sit back and watch some of the wildlife, you can do that on the trail as well. 

“Winter is a great time to see different views of our forests and observe uncommon wildlife, especially migrating waterfowl visiting Charlotte State Forest’s 800 acres of wetlands,” said Kirby Woolfolk. He serves as forest manager for both Charlotte State Forest and Prince Edward-Gallion Forest. 

There’s two options for accessing the new trail. There’s parking on Saxkey Road and Double Bridges Road. Forestry officials also point out that anyone who wants to ride bikes or horses on the trail will need a state forest use permit. That’s $15 and lasts for one year. You can buy them at GoOutdoorsVirginia.com.

The 5,688-acre Charlotte State Forest is open every day from dawn until dusk. Visitors are asked to adopt a “leave-no-trace” ethic when visiting the forest, as trash cans and restrooms are not available. 

SOME HISTORY OF THE FOREST

The forest was owned by Governor Thomas B. Stanley, who served from 1954 to 1958, and the Stanley Land and Lumber Corporation before The Conservation Fund’s purchase in 2019. The purpose of the corporation was to manufacture hardwood lumber on a 4,000-acre tract of land in Charlotte County called the Greenwood Game Preserve, owned by Stanley.

The company’s primary business involved the operation of two small, portable sawmills on the property, with much of the logging being done by horses and mules.

By the mid-1950s, much of the timber had been harvested, and the company gradually shifted into drying and planing pine lumber for local building and construction projects.