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The 5 Best Hikes in Richmond, VA

1. Maymont


Richmond's crowning jewel and nearly its defacto #1 hike. It seems like Maymont has it all with its beautifully themed sections like the crowd favorite Japanese garden. Maymont is the only one on this list that wouldn't technically be considered a hike because of its paved paths, but if your goal is to enjoy nature and stay active while doing so this definitely fits the bill. There are a ton of different things to do like feed goats, pet cows, observe foxes and birds. You could also set up a picnic in its beautifully landscaped areas and enjoy the day.

Pros:


Its landscaped similarly to a high-end theme park but is totally free

Plenty to do

Animals

Great for kids

Historical Buildings


Cons:

No dogs allowed

Can get crowded


2. Belle Isle


Belle Isle is just the island there, but has so much to offer. Since Belle Isle serves as a hub for Buttermilk, North Bank, Brown's Island, the Floodwall, and the Potterfield bridge I am including those routes since you will need them to access Belle Isle. Belle Isle is a great hiking destination because of its short and punchy trails combined with access to the rapids as a way to cool off. There are also a handful of small routes other than the gravel loop around the island. If you're there for an end of hike picnic and swim this is the ideal spot for you.


Pros:


A great hub for hikers, bikers and kayakers

The non-gravel hiking paths aren't that crowded

Great swimming options

Plenty of history

Separate hilly and flat trail options


Cons:

Low Elevation Changes

The Island is Small

Swimming can be dangerous if there is high water

Crowds


3. Forest Hill Park


Although just a short walk from Belle Isle along Buttermilk trail or a gravel connecting path, Forest Hill has much more to offer than just single trails in the area. Forest Hill is the hilliest of the top 3 hikes with much of the trail system having large changes in elevation. If your goal is a hike along singletrack with natural vegetation this is by far the best option. You can find a beautiful catch and release lake, gazebos on the water, and a sheltered picnic area.


Pros:

Beautiful and natural beauty

Plenty of hills

Quiet



Cons:


Some people drink in public near the parking lot No other activities than hiking


4. Bryan Park


Bryan Park would probably be much higher up the list if it wasn't for the fact that you can hear the highway from much of its paths. Bryan Park mostly is accessed by its paved and closed road system. Off of these paved paths, you can find a few singletrack hiking and biking trails with plenty of natural vegetation. There is also a beautiful lake surrounded by manmade landscaping. It has plenty to offer in both styles, but it's quite flat and is not exactly serene with the highway nearby.


Pros:

Farmers Market Saturdays at 9AM

Paved paths can be good for your rollerblading kids

Field access

Natural and Landscaped sections

Disc golf

Cons:


Highway noise

Mostly flat


5. Powhite Park


Many Richmonders have never been here, and many others would argue this should be much higher up the list. Considering that Richmond hikes are limited in size due to being within city limits, this park is incredibly adequate and can provide everything you expect on a typical hike while still being near the city. It has plenty of natural vegetation and rolling hills and not much else. Sometimes, that's just enough!


Pros:

100 Acres

Beaver Dam

Natural and pristine beauty

No crowds

Cons:


Can get noisy if you're on a trail near the highway

Nothing to do other than hike


What didn't make the list:


Capital Trail: Technically the best parts of the trail are when you walk out of the city. It is also hard to find shade on this and runs along a highway. Really its best for bikers.


Buttermilk, North Bank and Texas Beach: Due to crowds, technical singletrack routes that are full of bikers these 3 options are all adequate to access other areas like Forest Hill park, Belle Isle or Brown's Island but thats about it!


William Byrd Park: I don't think this can be considered a hike, but is definitely a beautiful area and worth the walk.


The Floodwall & Richmond Slave Trail: Between the Interstate noise and litter it is not worth making the top 5. Its a decent trail system once you pass the interstate, but since it is along an industrial zone of Richmond it is hard to ignore all of the cons. I also added the Floodwall trail onto this since they connect, which loves to flood, has no shade on hot days but provides spectacular views.


Lewis G Larus Park: I'm sure many of you haven't heard of it, but it technically is within the city limits near the Stony Point Fashion Park. Its a 1 and done park. This park offers the best opportunity to see wildlife.


Controversial Opinion: Pony Pasture is Completely Overrated...


The reasoning is simple...

1. It has no hiking trail access to get to it other than by biking or car.

2. It can be beautiful, but it can also flood with very small amounts of rain. The rain also pools and makes the area quite buggy.

3. There really is no way to resolve the flooding problem due to its location

4. The swimming can be shut down due to water height




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