The Coal Mining Heritage Loop (CMHL) Trail is an interpretive singletrack trail built in 2010 dedicated to remembering the role of coal mining in the local region. The Merrimac mining community used to be located on the 30 acres that the park now spans. The early 20th century community had a mining tipple, hotel, general store, and housing for the coal miners. It is located in between Blacksburg and Christiansburg near the unincorporated town of Merrimac. You can park at the end of State Route 701 next to the trash and recycling center. You can also park at the Huckleberry Trail
parking lot near the intersections of Hightop Road and 657 if connecting the trail with a portion of the Huckleberry Trail
Starting from the parking lot near the trash and recycling center, descend the beautifully constructed boardwalk, and within 100 feet, you'll reach an intersection. Going clockwise on the trail means taking a left. The trail starts out at its widest on a wide, gentle track before quickly passing through a small meadow and entering into the woods.
The trail weaves along, gently going downhill until you reach a bridge crossing over Slate Branch. 100 feet after the bridge, the CMHL intersects the paved Huckleberry Trail
. Watch for bikes speeding downhill at the intersection. Continue straight across the Huckleberry Trail
and the CMHL begins to ascend, generally traveling northeast while contouring around drainages with a few switchbacks before you descend back to another intersection with the Huckleberry Trail
. Again, continue straight to the bottom of the boardwalk to remain on the CMHL, and you'll shortly reach your starting point. This trail can be combined with a run on the paved Huckleberry Trail
or the CMHP Railroad Access Road for variety.
Be friendly out there and say "hi"; this is a popular trail for walkers, runners, and the occasional mountain biker.
There are very many deer in this area. Please keep your dogs on leash so they do not chase the deer.