Old Valley Pike

Rt 11 South toward Woodstock at Pugh's Run (1930)
The Old Valley Pike is one of our county's cherished historic byways. This early route, with a major branch known as the Wilderness Road, was an important frontier highway in colonial America.
Its History
A vital link between the county's six historic towns and other communities in the Valley, the Old Valley Pike --- modern day US Route 11 --- has served the Valley for hundreds of years, from its early days as a trail used by Native Americans, to a wagon road used by the Valley's European settlers and an avenue for movement and clashes of Civil War armies.
In the 20th century, the road evolved into a favored travel route for many of the Shenandoah Valley’s visitors and today serves as an inviting alternative to Interstate 81, linking together many of the Valley’s historic towns and signature landscapes.

Citizens of Shenandoah County have stated that they treasure the county’s rural setting and the individual character of each of our Valley towns and would like to see them protected.

Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan as a Tool

The Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan creates an overlay districts along US Route 11. Overlap districts are just one of the many tools available to localities as they strive to maintain their historic fabric while enabling creative and innovative solutions to the pressures of growth and development.


The Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan helps balance goals for maintaining the character and quality of the US Route 11 as a scenic, historical and recreational asset that we can share with visitors, with the pressures of development, growth and time.

Implementation of the Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan is included as a recommendation in the chapter on transportation in the Shenandoah County Comprehensive Plan as a way to balance promote economic development, increase tourism and protect natural resources. Shenandoah County's economy is driven by a diverse blend of industry, agriculture and tourism. The large tracts of farm and forest lands, national parks, water resources, caverns and other recreational and historic interests draw visitors. Additionally, a tremendous surge in thematic driving tours including heritage-based tours, agricultural or product based tours and nature based tours are another tourism draw. In Shenandoah County, three battlefield tours, a wine trail and an artisan trail include portions of the Old Valley Pike.

Bicycle tours are rapidly growing not just in Virginia but worldwide and these tours bring with them tremendous significant revenue for the tour locations. The bike tour in spring 2016 in Shenandoah County was a great success .. rural uncongested roadways, quaint vibrant towns and scenic viewsheds are just what our cyclists want. We plan to make Shenandoah County a regular location for our tours. (KIm Perry, Executive Director, Bike VA) 

The ordinance establishes a historic overlay district for all segments of US Route 11 within the unincorporated areas of Shenandoah County implementing key elements of the county’s comprehensive plan: maintaining the rural, agricultural character of the county’s landscapes and directing growth and development to the towns. The corridor plan provides guidelines for new infrastructure and building improvements for industrial, commercial and residential consistent with the existing historic and cultural character of the Old Valley Pike. It also establishes two sub-districts—a rural landscape district and a town gateway designation—with different guidelines for each.


Developing the Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan:

The original OVP was developed by the county in consultation with landscape architect Barry Carpenter with the Woodstock firm Sympoetica. The ordinance language was developed by a steering committee that included business and landowners on the Old Valley Pike and was refined through a series of public meetings. Following review and recommendation for approval by the Planning Commission, the ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in August 2008.

Elements of the Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan

  • Establish Gateways:Gateways set a clear edge between our rural landscapes, and our towns and be a place to establish town pride or give a sense of community. Just like first impressions when meeting someone for the first time, attractive gateways, which can include signage, setbacks and landscaping, can create a more enjoyable experience for visitors and residents alike.
  • Respect Rural Landscapes: Overlay districts not only protect the character and setting of a community but can increase the long-term functionality. Guidelines addressing signage, access and building design can respond to the unique characteristic and help shape the look and function of future growth and development.
  • Provide Guidelines for:
    • Lighting: Guidelines for lighting are designed to increase safety by creating less glare from bright lights particularly at night, reduce light pollution which wastes energy and can have negative impact on the environment and minimize negative impacts on wildlife.
    • Parking: Parking lot guidelines include landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff, provide heat-reducing shade, prevent soil erosion, decrease impact of wind and noise.
    • Signs: Signage will depend on the speed limit and zoning district and will implement lighting reduce negative impacts.
    • Sidewalks: Sidewalks will be installed in the Gateway areas of the Old Valley Pike to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers. Additionally sidewalks increase the .. of a community and neighborhood vitality.
    • Setbacks, Buffers, Landscape and Access: Building setbacks provide additional green space and are more compatible with the existing rural landscapes. Screen buffers provide better privacy and transitions between different uses along the corridor. Landscaping provides natural drainage for stormwater and shade to offset impact of summer temperatures. Guidelines for access not only provide enhanced aesthetic value and curb appeal but increase safety and function of corridor.

Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan Today

In response to concerns expressed by small business owners, county officials are now considering minor modifications to the plan to give businesses along the corridor more flexibility and options while remaining true to the character and function of the corridor. 

Presentation by Joyce Fadeley, Shenandoah County Zoning and Subdivision Administrator, on proposed changes for Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan.


Old Valley Pike Corridor Plan
Statement of Intent 

It is the intent of this district to ensure that US Route 11, the "Old Valley Pike," continues to offer local residents and tourists a safe and beautiful route through rural countryside and historic towns, a scenic byway and an artery offering opportunities for tourism and economic development. 

To this end, these regulations are intended to:

  1. Protect and promote the aesthetic and historic character of the Old Valley Pike as a scenic byway;
  2. Promote and create attractive gateways to the County's historic towns and villages;
  3. Ensure safe and functional transportation systems;
  4. Manage access from the Old Valley Pike to adjacent parcels for the safety and convenience of vehicular travelers, bicyclists and pedestrians;
  5. Support quality economic development and tourism along the corridor.