Fishing guide

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County launch online trail guide

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have partnered with a tourism project to create an online trail guide and hope to attract more visitors to the area’s many hiking trails. The online guide will be a resource for outdoor enthusiasts.

The website was developed with a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and Rockingham County will also produce printed guides. The guide highlights 15 different trails and trail systems in the area and provides details about each to help hikers and cyclists plan their trip.

“We highlight distance, we highlight a level of ability for the different trails. We highlight where you can park and if there are amenities like fresh water facilities or toilets, how many parking spaces there are, and directions, how to get there, and also how to follow the trail system,” said Harrisonburg Tourism Manager Jennifer Bell.

The site also includes the elevation and difficulty of each of the trails and distinguishes between biking and hiking trails. Jennifer Bell said tourism is on the rise in the region post-COVID and outdoor recreation is a big part of that.

“We have been able to see a really positive tourism recovery in Harrisonburg since the pandemic waned. We really see a lot of people interested in traveling here and we see spending from our visitors increasing,” she said.

Bell said more and more people are visiting the Valley for outdoor recreation after hiking or biking during the pandemic.

“It was a really good fit. One of the trends that came out of COVID was that some people who had never hiked or camped before tried it and they want to hike more but they don’t necessarily know where to go so we’re trying to highlight and give people the resources they need to find great hikes and great trails,” she said.

The guide also directs people to shops and outfitters in Harrisonburg that sell the gear they’ll need for hiking or biking.

“Harrisonburg is a great base camp for hiking. We have hiking shops, fishing outfitters and three different cycling shops. We have great hotels and we’re unique compared to a lot of places you might go camping,” Bell said.

The city’s tourism department encourages people to leave comments on what they would like to see added to the online guide and said it hopes to add more trails to it in the future.