Montpelier’s 8+ miles of well-marked walking trails are one of the Virginia Piedmont’s best-kept secrets, located just two hours south of Washington, D.C., and a half hour north of Charlottesville. Winding through horse pastures, wildflower meadows, and forests, including the Old-Growth Landmark Forest, the trails offer spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and intimate encounters with native plants and wildlife. The Montpelier Trails are open to the public Thursday-Monday during business hours and may be accessed from the trailhead kiosk just below the parking lot at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center.
Montpelier Loop Trail
The 3.55-mile Montpelier Loop Trail is designed for walkers and hikers who want to experience the full range of landscapes Montpelier has to offer. Starting at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center -- which offers parking, restrooms, and an award-winning café-- the trail runs past the Annie duPont Formal Garden, through the James Madison Landmark Forest and the Demonstration Forest, along horse pastures and wildflower meadows. Highlights include 150-year-old white oak and tulip trees, unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge, lovely vistas of the Montpelier house, and access to the Montpelier slave cemetery and the Madison family cemetery.
Landmark Forest Trails
The Landmark Forest and Demonstration Forest trails consist of a series of interlocking loops covering a total of 2.5 miles and designed to lead visitors along nature trails that showcase the variety and majesty of Montpelier’s old-growth and transitional forests. Interpretive signs provide an educational component and make the Landmark Forest Trails an ideal natural classroom for birders, naturalists, and hikers. The Landmark Forest can be accessed by following the Montpelier Loop Trail from the trailhead or from the trailhead located on the Back Lawn. Highlights includes stately oak, beech, and tulip tree canopies and seasonal native wildflowers.
The 3.9-mile Montpelier-Grelen Trail links Montpelier’s trail system to Grelen Nursery’s trail system over a route that traverses Chicken Mountain. A partnership between Montpelier, Grelen Nursery, and Piedmont Environmental Council, the Montpelier-Grelen Trail was designated a “Virginia Treasure” by the Office of the Governor in 2015 in recognition for its outstanding contribution to conservation, cultural heritage, and public outdoor recreation. Highlights include views of the Blue Ridge and Southwest Mountains, in addition to the food and entertainment offerings provided at Montpelier’s David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and The Market at Grelen. Please note that the trail is only open from both ends during business hours at Montpelier and The Market at Grelen.
Montpelier Civil War Trail
Walk in the footsteps of McGowan's Brigade on the 1-mile Montpelier Civil War Trail, which winds through the archaeological remains of a Confederate winter camp. The trail also connects to the farm of George Gilmore, who was born into slavery at Montpelier around 1810 and, after Emancipation, became a farmer and landowner, building his cabin on the site of an abandoned Confederate hut.