Tag Archives: Hiking

Trail reroute cutting erosion, lengthening popular Buttermilk

One of the new switchbacks being put into place in the new reroute of the Buttermilk TrailThe Buttermilk Trail is being reworking in the Main Area of the James River Park below the 42nd Street intersection with Riverside Drive. The small parking area on the eastbound side of the Riverside has had a steep and slippery trail that runs straight down the hill to connect to the Buttermilk. Continue reading


Get your hike on with Central Virginia Trailblazers

Do you love to hike or bike but stuck in a rut on finding new places to go? Do you need some new friends to blaze the trails with you? Give the Central Virginia Trailblazers group a try [facebook]. They hit many area trails, including the James River Park. Continue reading

Missing Link Trail could be key to Southside greenway

Missing Link Trail connects Manchester Climbing Wall with Belle IsleThere is an unofficial, unmaintained trail on the southside of the James that connects the Manchester Climbing Wall to the southside bridge to Belle Isle known as the Missing Link Trail.

The half-mile path has been in place for many years and mainly runs atop dirt and sediment that has settled  for decades behind a nearby VEPCO dam. It is cluttered with debris from high waters from the James, downed trees, large rocks, discarded iron railroad ties and large granite rocks used to stabilize the railroad tracks that run nearby.

“It’s a crude trail, probably more up to hikers than anything else,” said Nathan Burrell, James River Park System’s trail manager, during a recent JROC meeting. There is potential that the JRPS and the volunteer trail building group Richmond-MORE could get involved to develop the trail for more consistent and heavier usage.

This section is considered a key to a connecting greenway between the Buttermilk Trail and Belle Isle to the west with the Floodwall Walk and Canal Walk loop to the east. You can access the trail from paved Canal Loop trail from the parking lot at Semmes and 7th streets (next to SunTrust). Walk down the wooden steps to the left at the top of the Manchester Climbing Wall and take the trail into the woods at the base of the staircase.

Have you ever hiked this trail? Would you be interested in seeing it developed and maintained by the JRPS?

Main Area West is a James River hidden gem

View of James River Railway Bridge from Main Section WestDid 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?

Trailhead from Riverside Drive to Main Section WestIt 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.

Exposed pipe in the James River at Main Section WestWhen 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 James River Railway Bridge (also known as the Atlantic Coast Line Railway Bridge or Belt Line Bridge) and watch kayakers run the Choo Choo Rapids.

There are also plenty of shady areas to find a good fishing hole, pitch a tent or stash a cooler.

Main Area West google mapFinding 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 remember to truck out whatever trash is left from whatever you truck in and pick up stray trash, please!

Pawpaw season in the James River Park

Pawpaw on the James River Trail LoopIt’s pawpaw season. If you have ever been on the James River Trail Loop this time of year and smelled a ripe banana smell and wondered what it was….pawpaw. Likely brown and smushed into the trail floor. Bikers run over them and get them in their tires, hikers get them all into their shoes. However, NBC12 weatherman Andrew Freiden said you can eat them. Just don’t eat the seeds — they are poisonous.

You don’t have to head to the grocery store for a taste of the tropics. It turns out a largely unknown fruit thrives in Richmond — and you can get it for free…if you can find it.

Every year, from mid-August to early October, this wild food enthusiast heads to the James River Park — sometimes with his kids — in search for the elusive pawpaw. A free meal.

Yet they are one of the only two fruit trees native to Virginia (American persimmon is another). They are picky as to where they will grow. Pawpaws only grow in fertile soil near rivers — on distinctive medium size trees.

Read more in Freiden’s story at NBC12.com and get more details on pawpaws at Richmond on the James. NOTE: Andy Thompson added a column on “papaws.” This brings up a good point, there seems to be several spellings: pawpaw, paw paw, papaw, paw-paw, etc. He goes into some of the naming and origins of the pawpaw.

Low water: Time to hike in the James

Hiking in the James River - Downtown Richmond skylineThe river levels are getting lower by the minute as summer winds down and Central Virginia is behind in the rain total count. Time to go hiking in the James River.

In late Summer 2007, I took several long hikes in the James river between the Powhite Parkway Bridge and Belle Isle. I hopped on rocks normally submerged along the various paths I took – available due to a period of drought and low water levels in the river.

Those hikes left a lasting impression on me and helped fuel my appreciation for the James. The discoveries I made on those hikes continue to drive my quest to explore the river.

See the full story and photos at Richmond on the James