Did you know that much of the shoreline covering the area between the Powhite Parkway Bridge and the Boulevard Bridge in South Richmond is part of the James River Park System? It is a bit more rustic and challenging to find for most park-goers, but the effort is worthwhile.
It is known within the Department of Parks, Recreation and Facilities as Main Area West and the main trailhead is in the 5300 block of Riverside Drive. A 10 minute hike down hill and across the train tracks will lead river-goers to some of the best granite boulders, vantage points and adventures you can find on the James.
When water levels are low, this area has some of the best adventure hiking in the area. You can walk on top of the concrete pipelines that run through the area to reach remote rocks and islands. You can get underneath the giant arches of the Atlantic Coast Line Bridge (also known as the James River Railway Bridge or Belt Line Bridge) and watch kayakers run the Choo Choo Rapids and count the trains as they blow by high above or along each bank of the James. Isolation and activity at the same time.
There are also plenty of shady areas to find a good fishing hole, pitch a tent or stash a cooler. Just remember to clean up after yourself.
Finding parking on Riverside Drive is almost impossible and nearby New Kent Avenue has limited parking. I suggest riding your bike to the park and locking it to the fencing at the trailhead. Use caution when crossing the railroad tracks and respect property lines and stay within the park area.