A Trail of History

Hikers walk along the Montpelier-Grelen Trail.  Photo by Peter Hujik.

Walking downhill through the open meadow, one gets a sense of liberty that comes when exploring this tranquil, rural place. At the bottom of the hill, there’s an historic log structure, which provides a glimpse into the property’s past. Once the pathway leads into the forest, you begin ascending the mountain to find spectacular views of the Blue Ridge. You may be asking, “Where is this?” It’s the new trail at James Madison’s Montpelier that connects the 2,540-acre historic estate with the Market at Grelen, which is on a 590-acre working farm near Somerset, Virginia. 

The trail has been several years in the making. PEC partnered with Montpelier and Grelen to help make the trail come to fruition. Montpelier and Grelen worked together to link old road beds and logging roads to create freshly cleared stretches of trail. During the first week of April, the trail opened to the public. 

“The trail has quickly become a popular destination among locals and visitors alike,” says Dan Gregg, owner and founder of Grelen Nursery.

“My hope is that trail provides one more reason for visitors to extend their stay from a day to a weekend, so that local inns, hotels, restaurants and other businesses benefit as well,” says Kat Imhoff, President and CEO of the Montpelier Foundation.

The four miles of new trails more than double the Montpelier’s previous trail network. Over seven miles of trails are now available to the public between the two sites. The trail network, along with Montpelier, provides some of the only public access to the largely conserved Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District, along with scenic vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s free and open to the public during the business hours of Montpelier and Grelen, and food, beverages and restrooms are available at either end of the trail.

“Tourism is part of the Orange County rural economic development strategy.” Peter Hujik, Land Conservation Officer noted, “The Montpelier-Grelen Trail provides direct access to great views, fresh air, solitude and the landscape that inspired James Madison!”

map of montpelier-grelen trails