Pony Pasture Rapids Park (AREA 1-C)

Park Parcel Map, Boundary and Features: Exhibit CE 0011 (pdf) This drawing includes the Wetlands park property.
Map Title:   Property along the South Bank of the James River, Between the Willow Oaks Country Club and the Huguenot Bridge
Common Park Name:   Pony Pasture Park

Description of Location

Pony Pasture Rapids Park is located on the south shore of the James River, two miles downstream from the Huguenot Bridge on Riverside Drive.  It is bordered on the north by the James River, on the east by the Wetlands Park, on the south by Riverside Drive and private land owners, and on the west by Riverside Drive near its intersection with Rockfalls Drive.  

Existing Conditions

The park entrance is at its west end; there are separate, gated entrance and exit roads.  Nearby is located one large gravel parking lot that can accommodate approximately 80 vehicles (ppts C.1 & 3).  Between the parking lot and riverfront is a linear wooded and groomed pedestrian area, with signs, benches, scattered trees, and several markers, which draws the visitor towards the shore and up to the waterfront in a very dramatic sequence, to discover the rocky shoreline, rolling rapids of the James, and an huge, unspoiled scenic viewshed. 

This park is remarkable for its rugged ands diverse natural character, situated on  a visually active section of the river: rapids, rock outcroppings, abundant wildlife and dramatic views of Williams Island, the opposite shores, upriver and down.  This is one of the JRPS busiest parks, attracting overflow crowds in good weather.  There are several footpaths leading throughout the woodlands as well as to several river access points including a handicap beach access (ppts C.12, C.15, C.18).  The series of trails lead to the eastern Wetlands Park where a loop footpath allows for exploration and bird watching.   
There are trash and recycling receptacles throughout the park as well as several benches (ppt C.6)  

Buildings and Structures

At Pony Pasture Rapids Park, the existing structures include a 2 story handsome park building, with a classroom, restrooms  with changing areas, a maintenance and storage room (ppt C.27) in the area south of the parking area.  There is also evidence of a historic quarry railway bed that runs across the entrance of the park.  Just upstream, beside Riverside drive in the westernmost sliver of park property is a car pull-over area, for police and rescue vehicles


There is a major sewer line shown on CE 0011 that that runs parallel and through part of Pleasant Creek.  There are water, sewer, and electrical services to the main park building, and may be other utilities running parallel to Riverside Drive.

Conservation Values

Natural Resources Values:  With the adjacent Wetlands Park, this park is comprised with approximately 4,000 linear feet of riverfront property on the James River, at the beginning of the fall Zone.  River water begins to encounter rapids, picks up speed and attracts birds, fish, and other wildlife. Excellent water access, with several water access areas (non-motorized, ie canoe/ kayak/ tubing) and good wading & swimming.  Large gravel parking lots, a nice park building with classrooms, restrooms, storage, etc.  Abundant pedestrian and biking facilities throughout, benches at nice viewpoints. Network of small paths throughout property, with several good fishing areas, and mostly undisturbed plant and animal communities.  Abundant wildlife ! Natural Heritage resources unknown.   

Scenic Values: Excellent views of the James River from its rocky, wooded south shore; rapids, rocks, wildlife, and excellent wide views of forested north shore of James; Williams Island and its dam; good views upstream and down.  

Landscape Values: At beginning of Fall line - abundance of large boulders and rock outcropping.  Shoreline high, steep and rocky in most places.  Rest of site mostly wooded with undisturbed floodplain and wild upland areas.

Historic Values:  Remains of quarrying area and railroad bed.  Several memorial markers. 

Other BLD Materials

  1. PPR I –C: Pictures & Captions: 7 pages, 27pictures with captions
  2. PPR Appendix C: GIS coord points, photos, captions and/or descriptions
  3. GIS map with major features identified, 27 GIS photopoints