Best walks to see fall foliage in James River Park

Autumn leaves on Williams Island from Pony PastureThere are four areas of the James River Park System that provide opportunities for long walks when you’re seeking autumn leaves in a natural setting.

Pony Pasture Rapids Park and the adjoining park, The Wetlands, are great places to walk and the views of the wild river are tough to beat. The bonus is the interior of the trails. There are many hardwoods and plenty of winding trails to satisfy your color-seeking desires. The views across the river to Williams Island and the north side of the James are colorful as well. Continue west on Riverside Drive to Riverside Meadows toward Huguenot Flatwater for a longer scenic walk.

Leaf at Pony Pasture Rapids ParkThe Main Section of the James River Park (42nd Street to some) from Boulevard Bridge to Belle Isle has one long primary trail along portions of the southern banks of the James. The hardwoods here are dominated by Sycamore, which tend to drop their leaves earlier than most, but the views across the river more than make up for the missing leaves. When the water is low, you can stroll out the thousands of granite boulders to get more points of view.

And what you’d see across the river is North Bank Park. It is much more rustic and remote than the previously mentioned properties, but the parks’ location on the north bank of the James means the sunlight is less interrupted and/or blocked by the hillsides above the parks along Westover Hills and Stratford Hills, as this is the time of year the sun is in the southern hemisphere. 

You can never go wrong with a visit to Belle Isle in downtown Richmond. Just walking along the northern portion of the trail loop around the island is great, as you’d be able to see the colorful hillside of Hollywood Cemetery looming atop the banks across the river.

Caution: Watch out for mountain bikers in North Bank on the North Trail and if you choose to walk along the Buttermilk Trail in the Main Section.

The peak of fall colors for the Richmond area is usually in early November, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry.

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2 responses to “Best walks to see fall foliage in James River Park

  1. I like to get in my boat and look back at the shoreline while I fish. Starting to get too cold, but the water is down to under 5 feet again and not too rough to anchor and sit for a while.

  2. Thanks for the blog and information!

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