New River Trail to celebrate 25th anniversary Saturday

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New River Trail State Park will observe its 25th anniversary on Saturday with music, free parking, activities and discounts.
The 57-mile linear trail passes through Pulaski, Wythe, Carroll and Grayson counties, the Town of Fries and the City of Galax.
Parking fees will be waived May 5 at all New River Trail State Park access points. The Shot Tower will also offer free tours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Most activities will be at the park’s Foster Falls area in Wythe County. There will be free pony rides for guests ages 10 and younger, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Free hot dogs will be available while they last, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder and True Grass Band will perform at the amphitheater between noon and 5 p.m.
A brief 1 p.m. ceremony is planned at the amphitheater, featuring the park’s first manager, Neal Kilgore; state Sen. Bill Carrico and Del. Annie Crockett-Stark.
The park will give a 25 percent discount on all state parks merchandise and horse and bicycle rentals.
Tours of the Foster Falls caboose, a kids’ bounce and slide rooms and vendors offering assorted crafts and goods will be available during the day.
New River Trail State Park was developed on an abandoned rail-line donated to the state in 1986 by Norfolk Southern Corporation.
It was the first linear trail in the state park system and, at the time, the longest rail-to-trail conversion project in the state.
The first segment of the trail, four miles from the adjoining Shot Tower Historical State Park to Austinville, opened to the public on May 2, 1987.
Nearly a decade passed before all 57 miles were developed and opened to the public. New River Trail is one of 35 state parks managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.