The Butternut Trail (unblazed as of 9/2017) starts from the Mill Creek Nature Park parking area. The trail heads south along Mill Creek (do not cross the footbridge). There are some unmarked trails that shoot off, but you'll be staying on the main trail near the creek.
After approximately 0.4 miles, you'll come to a small camping shelter and a small reservoir behind a dam (the dam was constructed with hand-cut stones in the 1780s and is still functional more than 200 years later). Just past the shelter, you'll see a sign for the Butternut Trail heading uphill and to the left. Take this and let the climbing begin.
The trail has many loose rocks and gets STEEP, especially just before the intersection with the Catwalk Trail
at approximately 0.8 miles. After the intersection with the signed Catwalk Trail
, continue up and up along the steep switchbacked logging road; at times the trail becomes a singletrack. Eventually, the gradient levels off before a junction with the signed Rocky Ridge Trail
after approximately 1.8 miles.
The trail crosses the Mercy Branch and comes to a junction with the signed Mercy Branch Trail
in another tenth of a mile. Continue downhill along the Butternut Trail past a junction with the signed Old Rhodie Trail. Butternut continues along at a moderate grade through rhododendron tunnels until its terminus at the signed junction with Piney Road
Trail and Catwalk Trail
. To return to the parking area, take the steep Catwalk Trail
to the right which will eventually take you to the Waterfalls Trail
and past four waterfalls.
Be sure to dress in bright colors during hunting season (generally fall and winter). The town of Narrows and nearby Pearisburg both have many trails and are investing in outdoor recreation. Stop in at local restaurants and stores to support these small towns so they continue to encourage outdoor recreation!