When you’ve visited the James River Park, have you ever wandered down a tree-shaded, dirt-packed trail to find yourself emerging into sunlight at the edge of the water? Or perhaps you’ve pedaled your mountain bike through an unexpected adventure to emerge on Belle Isle?

It takes a great deal of work to make those trails happen.

In the early days of the Park, folks seeking access or adventure would follow public roadways to occasional breaks in the foliage. These breaks were from rain runoff or animal trails, and those tracks and trails became our hiking and biking paths. People often found themselves enjoying a trail, only to have to transition back onto a public roadway to get to the next section.

As more people discovered and began to enjoy the James River Park, a more sustainable solution was needed.

Last year, almost 1.5 million people enjoyed the over 40 miles of trails in the Park. And with that much use, it takes a great deal of upkeep to keep them usable.

That’s where Trails Technician Andrew Alli comes in.

Leading a team of volunteers, he’s helped to clear up dead trees, build retaining walls, boardwalks and bridges, update signage, and create new trails. He most recently oversaw the completion of the North Bank Trail – linking existing trails that used to require a connecting ride through a residential neighborhood.

He and his team make certain that even though hundreds use the trails every day, they will stand up to the weather, and nature, and keep the James River Park and its pathways enjoyable for years to come.