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New trail system opens at site of future state park in Henry County

New trail system opens at site of future state park in Henry County
Photo Courtesy of DCR

SPENCER, Va. – Citizens, representatives and business leaders gathered on Friday, April 22, to open a new trail system at the site of Virginia’s future Mayo River State Park in Henry County. The event coincided with Earth Day, an international observance in support of environmental protection.

The ribbon-cutting took place at the trails’ new parking area on Pratt Road in Spencer, Virginia. Speakers included representatives from Henry County government, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and the region’s Eco Ambassadors Council (EAC).

Staff from Fairy Stone State Park and volunteers worked for the last year and a half to convert existing farm roads into multi-use trails and complete the parking area. The site now also features a temporary trailhead kiosk, trail signage and fencing.

In all, the area features 3.9 miles of trails for hiking and biking. The Mayo River Trail runs 1.9 miles along the property’s main road. The Byrd’s Loop Trail extends just over half a mile from the spur to Byrd’s Ledge. The 1.3-mile Redbud Trail is in the property’s northwest corner.

“We’re excited to open the site of the future Mayo River State Park for public access and proud to open this trail system, which will provide a new opportunity for outdoor recreation for the residents of Henry County and the surrounding communities,” said Adam Layman, Fairy Stone State Park manager. “I’m grateful for the support of the EAC and DRBA, as well as the tremendous support from the community, and look forward to building upon that as we work towards the future opening of Mayo River State Park.”

The trail system will be the centerpiece of Virginia’s future Mayo River State Park. State officials first began acquiring property for the park in 2009. Earlier this year, DCR acquired the final parcel, bringing the total acreage under Virginia state ownership to 637 acres.

Most of the land is between the North Mayo River and the South Mayo River, which converge just south of the state line in North Carolina.

“The incredible economic and recreational value that the future Virginia Mayo River State Park will bring to this region is immeasurable,” said Tiffany Haworth, DRBA’s executive director. “Our founders imagined this opportunity more than a decade ago, and DRBA staff, board and volunteers have been working hard ever since to keep the development moving forward.The generosity and foresight of the Eco Ambassador Council has finally made it a reality. We look forward to working with DCR to advance this amazing asset to its full potential.”

The EAC, a coalition of business leaders from the local region, provided $18,000 to develop the newly opened trails. Since forming in 2020, the organization has brought together resources and shared actions for the benefit of communities, stakeholders, environment and the economy throughout the Dan River Basin.

“The Eco Ambassador Council is proud to partner with DCR and DRBA in opening day-use trails for the community at the future Mayo River State Park site in Henry County,” said Tyler Carter, EAC chair and community reinvestment administrator at Carter Bank & Trust. “Today’s trail opening is a significant step toward having this property included in the Virginia State Parks master planning – a process that takes extensive time and resources. Our hope is for this site to one day become Henry County’s first state park and for it to have a positive economic impact locally.”

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