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Hit the Trails
Certainly a big reason Trailrunner Magazine named Richmond one of the best trail-running towns in 2009 is for the network of trails that runs through the James River Park System. Whether you prefer a stroll in the park, a lengthy trail run or a mountain biking work-out, there are JRPS trails to suit you.
Miles of multi-use Park trails, many lovingly built and tended by volunteers, are integral parts of exciting running and mountain bike races such as the XTerra, Dominion RiverRock and Maymont X-Country Festival, to name a few. But you can hit the trails yourself from dawn to dusk. Go to www.Sportsbackers.org and www.rrrc.org for information about upcoming events.
Be on the look-out for other users whenever you walk, run, or bike on the trails. Stay on the trails and, bikers, please do not ride when the trails are wet. To minimize environmental impact, use existing trails rather than creating new ones. Both cyclists and pedestrians should take care to share the trails so that everyone can use the park safely. Read more on the park rules and get some safety tips.
Dogs in the Park
The James River Park System welcomes all dogs, which are often the best trail buddies. However, please keep your dog on a leash. The trails are for everyone and often maintained by volunteers so please pick up after your dog. Finally, be considerate of others and don’t allow your dog to run and jump on other people or other dogs. Thank you!
Easy (approximately .75-1.5 miles)
For an easy walk in the woods and along the river, start at Pony Pasture parking lot and take the Louise Burke or R.B. Young trail east. You’ll come upon lovely river views and numerous side trails. When you reach Pleasant’s Creek, either keep the creek on your left and saunter back in a loop to the parking lot, or head across the bridge into the Wetlands for a longer walk.
Intermediate (approximately 2 miles)
Park at the end of Tredegar St. downtown and walk across the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge for a dramatic view of Hollywood Rapids and downtown. Once on the island, walk by the meadow that once was a notorious Civil War prison camp. Then take the trail that parallels the roaring rapids. Stop at the quarry pond overlook on your left for a more tranquil experience. The trail loops around the island or you can do an out-and-back route.
Advanced (approximately 9 miles)
Start at the Reedy Creek parking lot and pick up the Buttermilk trail and head west toward the Boulevard Bridge. Walk across the bridge and pick up the North Bank trail and head east past Maymont. You’ll have to walk a few blocks on Kansas St. here to pick up the trail again at Texas Beach parking lot. Again head east until the trail ends near the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge. Take the bridge across to Belle Isle. Explore as much as you’d like there and, keeping the Lee Bridge above you on your left, walk toward the service vehicle bridge on the south side of the island. Take it across where you can either pick up the Buttermilk Trail on the other side of the train tracks or walk toward park headquarters on the service road, exploring myriad interesting places along the way before returning to the start.
Belle Isle, the Buttermilk Trail, and the North Bank Trail are popular with serious mountain bikers. There’s a reason the XTerra East Championship is held here every June. With nearby Forest Hill Park’s new trails, many miles of challenging single-track are right here in Richmond.
Belle Isle’s flat 1-mile loop and Pony Pasture, the Wetlands, and Huguenot Flatwater offer flat gravel and dirt trails good for beginners and families with children.Look out for other users whenever you bike on the trails. Stay on the trails and please do not ride when the trails are wet. To minimize environmental impact, use existing trails rather than creating new ones. Share the trails so that everyone can use the park safely.
We’ve got a few. Take a look ...
James River Park System publications, such as:
- An Interpretive Guide to the Trails of the Pony Pasture Rapids
- Seeing the Scars of Slavery in the Natural Environment
RVAMore twitter for updates on trail openings/closings
Looking for more maps? Visit our maps page.