Richmond can boast being in the middle of some of the most diverse trail types available. Even inside the city limits, Richmond parks provide several miles of true singletrack, unique to a city of it’s size. Short drives to state and county recreation areas mean daily exposure to many different trail types for active bikers. Choose a park or area from the list below to learn more about mountain biking opportunities in Richmond! We ask our trail users to observe the IMBA Rules of the Trail and the 24 hours / 1″ rain rule – meaning stay off of the trails for 24 hours for every inch of rain the falls.
- Belle Isle
- Forest Hill Park
- Dogwood Dell
- Ancarrow′s Landing
- Gillies Park
- Pony Pasture
- Powhite Park
- Larus Park
- Deep Run Park
- Dorey Park
- Pocahontas State Park
- Poor Farm
- Scout Camp
- IMBA Rules of the Trail
- IMBA Bronze Ride Center
Even though Buttermilk is in the same park as North Bank and Belle Isle, it definitely has a much different feel. The most difficult of the three different sections of the James River Park System, Buttermilk combines tight, twisty, fast descents and steep climbs with lots of rocks and roots. Several creek crossing and some bridges and rock gardens add character to one of the most beloved trail systems in the Richmond area. The trail, which parallels the river and runs from 22nd Street to the Boulevard Bridge, is a real challenge for experienced mountain bikers. Buttermilk trail was aptly named because when milk was still delivered to people’s homes, the milkman would store the buttermilk in a cool well that is still located on the side of the trail.
The Buttermilk Trail consists of three trails. Buttermilk East runs from the Manchester Bridge to 22nd street and Buttermilk proper Trail, built, runs from 22nd Street to 43rd Street. Later the trail was extended to the Boulevard Bridge, this section being named Buttermilk Heights. In general Buttermilk Heights has more climbing and more rocks than Buttermilk.
Fast, flowing singletrack with some steep climbs and fast descents. North Bank has good “flow” and is very fast. Be careful of oncoming mountain bikers and pedestrians. Great panoramas of the James River that not many people are able to view are accessible from many areas of North Bank Trail. The trail runs from the Boulevard Bridge to Tredegar Iron Works.
There are several places to park for the North Bank Trail. Starting from the west is the Boulevard Bridge North. This is a gravel parking lot at the north end of the Boulevard Bridge accessed from Pump House Road. The intersection of Hampton and Kansas has starts the section of trail that runs along Kansas Ave. to Texas Beach. Parking is available at Texas Beach with the trailhead at the far end of the lot. The eastern end of the North Bank Trail is at Tredegar – from the parking lot, take the trail uphill, across the old canal then turn left and follow the access road.
A popular island in the middle of the James River which is only accessible by two bridges (a pedestrian footbridge and a service bridge for emergency and park vehicles). There are two sections of trail on Belle Isle. The “Lost Trail” is located on the eastern edge of the island, and is a flat, flowing trail with a few bermed turns. The other section of trails are located on top of the hill in the middle of the island. Connecting these two trail sections is the “Lost Garden,” the longest rock garden in the area under the service bridge. The trails on the top of the island are moderately more difficult, with tight singletrack riddled with lots of roots and tight turns. There are great view of the river from the top of the hill near the western side of the island.
Belle Isle is home to the Belle Island Bicycle Skills Area where you can learn new skills that will help you navigate the rest of the trail system.
Belle Isle has a long history dating back to Capt. John Smith who explored the island in 1607. It has been home to a fishery, ironworks and a power plant. During the Civil War it served as a POW camp. The Island was turned into a park in 1973 and the suspended pedestrian bridge opened in 1988.
The main parking area for Belle Isle is at Tredegar. You then take the suspended predestrian bridge under the Lee bridge across the James River. Access from the south side is via a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks at 22nd Street and the service vehicle bridge.
Forest Hill Park has been around for awhile. It celebrated it’s 160th anniversary in 2002 and was also named a historic landmark by both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Once a large country estate, the park became a terminus for a trolley line that was brought from downtown Richmond, which drew new residents to South Side Richmond. In the early 1900’s, an amusement park was established in the park. Waning popularity caused the amusement park to close in 1932, partially due to the Great Depression. The park was acquired by the City of Richmond in 1933.
The park is about 100 acres and has 3.2 miles of trails. The trails have been used as part of the Xterra Off-Road triathlon race numerous times since 2000 and were completely over-hauled in 2009. The trails are accessible from the James River Park System at Reedy Creek and Riverside Drive. Since the trail system is so small, most people combine them with Buttermilk, North Bank, and Belle Isle to create a longer route. The trail system would be considered flowing singletrack with several long climbs.
Parking for Forest Hill Park is available at Reedy Creek and a parking lot at New Kent Ave. and 42nd St.
To access the trail from Reedy Creek, head though the tunnel under Riverside Drive. Either follow the gravel road south and cross over the concrete pipe to follow the loop counter-clockwise or enter the trail at Riverside Dr. to follow the loop clockwise.
The trail loops around the north and east sides the parking lot at New Kent and 42nd St. An easy place to find it is directly behind the far picnic shelter.
The trail crosses a paved loop around the park in several places. These include the curved bridge at paved trail from the New Kent parking lot to the lake, this tennis courts by the park maintenance building and near Forest Hill Avenue where it crosses Reedy Creek.
Located at the western end of the North Bank Trail, the Dogwood Dell trails are in the area north of Pumphouse Park and behind (south of) the Carillon. The Dogwood Dells trail system is planned to have about 1.5 miles of mountain bike specific and a 1 mile pedestrian only trail. The trailhead is located directly across Pumphouse Drive from the Pumphouse Park entrance.
Dogwood Dell had been the home to trails in the late 1990’s early 2000’s, but Hurricane Isabel damaged the trails beyond repair in 2003. They remained unusable until 2012 when a grant from REI allowed a brand new trail system to be created. The new trail system opened in March of 2012.
Parking is available at the gravel lot at the Boulevard Bridge North trailhead. This is a gravel parking lot at the north end of the Boulevard Bridge accessed from Pump House Road, and in the gravel parking lot between Barker Field and the Carillon, access from Blanton Ave. and Park Drive. From either parking lot, head west on Pumphouse Drive. The trailhead will be on the right across the street from the entrance to Pumphouse Park.
This is the one park in the city where mountains bike have the right-of-way. This applies only to the mountain bike trail since the hiking loop is off-limits to mountain bikes.
Ancarrow’s Landing / Mylord Delaware Island Trails came about due to a agreement between the Parks Department and the Department of Public Works.
The twisty single track trails start an Ancarrow’s landing and head south to form a 2.5 mile loop. This is a very flat area and suitable for beginner riders, but it also one of the last trails to dry after a rain.
Parking is available at Ancarrow’s Landing (eastern end of Maury/Brander St.). Ancarrow’s landing is accessible by bike from other James River Trails via the Flood Wall and Slave Trail.
Just this past year Gillies was made legal with a new MOU with the City of Richmond and rvaMORE. There are several expert jumps with gaps. The location is next to BMX track. This small park will soon have a beginner and intermediate area to learn the skills needed jump the bigger gap jumps.
While most people go to the Pony Pastures to swim, boat or hike, they are also great place to learn how to ride your bike off-road. The main trails are wide and gravel, making them excellent for beginner off-road riders. The main loop is a over a mile long and the loop around the wetlands adds another half mile or so.
The main Pony Pastures parking area is located on Riverside Drive near Rockfalls Drive.
From the West, take Forest Hill Ave. to Hathaway Road. Head South on Hathaway. It will bend to the left and become Longview Drive. At the stop sign, turn right onto Rockfalls Drive, then an immediate left onto Riverside Drive. The main parking lot will the first entrance on the right.
From the East:
From Huguenot Road, exit onto Riverside Drive. Turn right (east) on Riverside Drive and follow the scenic road until you reach the Pony Pastures parking lot.
The Pony Pastures Wetlands Area is only 3 miles away from the JRPS and can be biked to by staying on neighborhood streets. From the Nickel Bridge South Trailhead, head south (uphill) on Westover Hills Boulevard. Turn right onto Riverside Drive. Follow Riverside Drive west under the railroad bridge. Turn right on Fairlee Rd. Turn right on Forest Hill Ave. and carefully cross the railroad tracks and the Powhite Parkway. Just after the golf course entrance, turn right on Rettig Rd. Turn left on Westchester Rd, then left on Buckhill Rd. In four blocks, turn right on Landria Rd. The Wetlands Area trailhead is located at the end of Landria Rd.
Narrow, twisty singletrack located within a 100 acre park. Short, steep climbs and fast descents with a few flat or straight spots. At the very bottom is a swampy area. Riders should stick to the established trails and be aware of the No Trespassing signs. Some parts of the wooded area are private property.This is a moderately difficult, intermediate trail system, with fast flowing singletrack. There are some rocky sections, log piles, roots, and some bermed turns. Perhaps the highlight of this “hidden gem” is the “THE BUZZ”, which is a dryed out creekbed that has been turned into a fast flowing section with plenty of bermed turns, rollers, and banked sections. You can drop into and out of the creek bed as if it were a half-pipe.
Overall, this trail system is rather secluded and quiet. It’s not uncommon to be the only rider on the trails in an entire day. Stick to the outside loop unless you know the park well. It is easy to get “lost” if you don’t know your way around.
The main parking lot is across the street from CJW’s Chippenham Hospital. at The Chippenham Parkway and Jhanke Road. Heading southbound on the Chippenham Parkway, take the Jhanke Road exit and turn right onto Jhanke Road. Make a U-Turn at the second stoplight (Hiokas Rd). The park entrance will be immediately before the on ramp to Chippenham North. If you’re headed northbound on the Chippenham Parkway, take the Jhanke Road exit. The park entrance will be directly across Jhanke Road from the off ramp.
Powhite Park is only 3 miles away from the JRPS and can be biked to by staying on neighborhood streets. From the Nickel Bridge South Trailhead, head south (uphill) on Westover Hills Boulevard. Turn right onto Riverside Drive. Follow Riverside Drive west under the railroad bridge. Take the third left after passing under the bridge to stay on Riverside Drive. Make a left onto Forest Hill Ave, then quickly make a right onto Bliley Road. Turn right onto Blakemore, then left onto Junaluska Dr, right on Glencove, and left on Greenvale. The park’s back entrance is at the end of Greenvale.
While owned by the city since 1978, Lewis G. Larus Park was not formally developed until 2006. The 106 acre park has approximately 5 miles of trails. These trails are mainly used by hikers and dog walkers so please use caution is traversing them by bike. Most the the trails can be considered easy to moderate with more difficult section towards the northern end of the park.
The main trailhead is located behind Fire Station #25 on Huguenot Road just south of the Chippenham Parkway. There is parking for two cars in the gravel lot by the cell tower (please do not park in the Fire Station’s paved parking lot). Other trailheads are located at Stony Point Rd. and Huguenot Rd., the entrance to the Sabot at Stony Point, the far right of the Stony Point VA Urology building and via a trail from Old Holly Rd. and Beechmont Roads.
Larus Park is accessible by low traffic roads (~3.25 miles) from the Pony Pastures via Huguenot Flatwater. From the main Pony Pastures parking lot, head west (upstream) on Riverside Drive. After passing under the Huguenot Bridge, turn right following Riverside Drive. Riverside drive will turn left from the river and become Hickory Road. Carefully cross Cherokee Rd. and take the first right on Rustic Rd. At the end of Rustic Rd. turn left on Oakleaf Rd, then right on Old Holly Rd. At trail heads off to the left where Old Holly ends at Beechmont Rd.
If you live near Deep Run Park this is the loop to ride. These trails are all social trails built by the local residents over many years. rvaMORE has signed an MOU with the county of Henrico and will be working on making this loop much more enjoyable. There are serval new bridges put in to complete the 2.4 mile loop.
These trails are all beginner trails on the east side of the park. The trail is out and back with a loop at the south end. The trail length is 1.2 miles.
Poor Farm Park is a 254 acre park located just west of Ashland in Hanover County on Rte 54. The history of Poor Farm goes back to the early 1900’s when this “Poor Farm” was used to take care of those in need around the area. Over the years, various families were hired by Hanover County to care for those that were staying on the farm. The families that stayed at Poor Farm (sans electricity) were given three meals a day and they would do the daily chores and work on the farm. Eventually, funding for this project was cut and the families moved away – some of these families still live in the area. After many years of no activity, the house became dilapidated and in the early 1970’s, it was used as a fire training exercise. None of the other buildings remain standing today.
The personality of the Poor Farm park trails is “rooty” singletrack with some rocks, a few stream crossings, and quite a few criss-crossing trails. In some areas, the trail can get quite rocky, especially near Stagg Creek on the backside of the park. Overall, there is something for everyone here. The trails range in difficulty from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced.
Beginners should start with the trails on the left side of the park, from the main parking lot headed east to behind Liberty Middle School. This area is commonly known as the “Flats”. The trails to the west of the parking area beginning near the access road to the amphitheater are more advanced and technical. Stagg Creek marks the boundary for Poor Farm Park. Please watch for the “no trespassing” signs on the other side of the creek. This is private property and RVA MORE asks that no one ride on the trails located on the other side of the creek.
Directions: Take I-95 to the Ashland Exit. It’s about 95 miles south of Washington D.C. and 10 miles North of Richmond. Follow 54 West through town. Look for signs that say “Liberty Middle School” and “Poor Farm Park”. Turn left at the signs and follow the road into the park. Bring a GPS or some friends that know the area if you have never ridden the trails before. It can be very easy for someone who is new to the park to get lost.
The 254 – acre park, home of Ashland Vikings Football, has three picnic shelters, nature trails, tot-lot, horseshoe pits, beach volleyball courts, lighted soccer fields, an amphitheater, open play areas, a seasonal concession stand with restrooms, two lighted softball fields, two lighted baseball fields, and a football field. Events at the park include the Easter Egg Hunt and the Patrick Henry Half-Marathon.
MBA developed the “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions.
- Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
- Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
- Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
- Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
- Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
- Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Portions of the trails are designed to be technically challenging. DO NOT modify the trail or create alternate routes to bypass challenging features.
We have over 75 miles of single track trail in Richmond. In 2015 Richmond recived the IMBA Bronze Ride Center Status