10 Picture Perfect Richmond Trails & Hikes For All Skill Levels

Richmond, Virginia is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors! With its close proximity to the James River, abundance of public parks, and protected nature areas, there is no shortage of walking, hiking, and biking trails for all ages and levels.

So, grab your friends and family to enjoy a warm afternoon exploring some of the best hikes near Richmond, or challenge yourself with a weekend hiking expedition.

Richmond Skyline in Richmond VA

Table of Contents

Easy hikes and Richmond Trails

William Byrd Park Trails

  • Length: 1.5 mile loop
  • Terrain: Paved trails
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

The trails in William Byrd Park offer visitors an easy way to get some light exercise on a warm day. The 1.5 mile loop consists of flat, paved trails that wind through the park and are basically accessed from any of the parking lots within Byrd Park.

During the hike, visitors can enjoy multiple duck-filled ponds, plenty of benches for resting, outdoor exercise equipment, and a variety of shady trees and flowering bushes.

The park is surrounded by lush grass that is perfect for a picnic after a walk. Besides hiking, other activities inside the park include tennis courts, pedal boats, and outdoor yoga. Also, leashed dogs are welcome on the trails.

Belle Isle Richmond Hiking Trails

Belle Isle Trail

  • Length: 1.7 mile loop
  • Terrain: Paved suspension bridge; gravel trails
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This flat trail is a highly trafficked, multi-use path with spectacular views of the James River. Markedly, the trail is accessed by a paved suspension bridge that carries visitors across the river from the parking lot to Belle Isle.

Throughout this 1.1 mile gravel trail, hikers and mountain bikers can follow along the river and make a loop around the island. The path is well marked, and a number of historic markers, educational signs, picnic tables, benches, and port-a-potties can be found along the way.

Visitors have the option of exploring other, albeit smaller trails throughout the island or stopping to enjoy a picnic on the rocks by the river. Leashed dogs are welcome and other activities at this park include swimming, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, rock hopping, and more.

Pony Pasture

  • Length: 2.1 mile loop
  • Terrain: Dirt/wooded; mulch; gravel
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This highly trafficked, multi-use trail offers visitors a scenic walk along the James River that’s perfect for all skill levels. The 2.1 mile loop features a variety of different types of terrain, but the majority of the trail are dirt paths. Occasionally, fallen trees may block the paths and visitors should be aware of this obstacle.

Hikers and bikers can enjoy walking along the shores of the James River before crossing over into a wooded area featuring lush greenery and fields of wildflowers. Parking and bathrooms are available at the beginning of the trail, but there is no bathroom access beyond the parking lot.

Also, visitors can avoid the crowds by going early for a sunrise hike or a romantic sunset stroll! Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail and other activities include swimming, kayaking, rafting, tubing, and more.

Richmond Canal in Richmond VA

James River Canal Walk

  • Length: 1.3 miles
  • Terrain: Paved; urban trail
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This moderate to highly trafficked urban trail consists of an approximately 1.3 mile loop along downtown Richmond’s canal front in Shockoe Bottom. The majority of the trail is paved, and all skill levels can certainly find this path easily accessible. Also, there is plenty to see along the way including art murals, historical markers, statues, and access to other nearby trails.

For close access to the trail, there is street parking and paid parking at almost every city block between 5th Street and 17th Street. Furthermore, there is wheelchair access at 5th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th Street. For an even more unique way to experience the canal, check out Riverfront Canal Cruises for a guided water tour of the canal. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

Maymont Park Richmond VA
Maymont Park Trails

Moderate hikes in Richmond

Forest Hill Park Trail

  • Length: ~3 miles
  • Terrain: Dirt/wooded
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This especially popular, highly trafficked trail is an approximately 3 mile loop consisting of mostly dirt trails with some difficult hills, switchbacks, and moderate terrain. Additionally, hikers and mountain bikers can find a good variety of native plants, wildflowers, and even some waterfalls and a lagoon.

Visitors can access the trail from a number of different points. Notoriously, markers for the trail are not very apparent. Therefore, starting from the main parking lot inside the park is probably the easiest spot.

Meanwhile, this park is very popular with dog owners. You can generally find people walking their dogs, playing fetch, or engaging in other popular activities like cookouts/picnics, flying kites, sledding (in the winter months), hula hooping, and more.

Wahrani Nature Trail

  • Length: ~3 miles
  • Terrain: Dirt/wooded
  • Dogs? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This multi-use trail is located a 30-40 minute drive outside of Richmond, and offers visitors lightly trafficked nature trails through the woods. This park consists of multiple looping trails with the longest trail being about a 3 mile loop. Along this shady, wooded trail, visitors will encounter sloping hills, small creeks, and a variety of native plants and wildlife.

Access to the trail begins at the clearly marked trail head near the parking lot, but the trail itself may get confusing due to being poorly marked/maintained. Adventure seekers can try their luck at finding the old graveyard located within the park. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail, but they might end up with muddy paws!

Maymont Park Trails

  • Length: Varies
  • Terrain: Paved
  • Dog-friendly? No, dogs are not allowed

If you’re looking for a two-for-one hiking experience, head to Maymont Park. Here, you can enjoy miles of paved walking trails while enjoying attractions inside the park like their petting zoo, botanical gardens, wildlife exhibits, historic mansion, and more. Although the park has meticulously maintained paved paths and grounds, the steep hills of this park make it more intense, especially on warm summer days.

Visitors will find three clearly marked main entrances to the park. Then, the length of each hike depends on the entrance used and the route taken. Entrance to the park is free with a suggested donation, but unfortunately dogs are not allowed inside the park.

Powhite Park Trail Richmond VA

Powhite Park Loop Trail

  • Length: ~2 mile loop
  • Terrain: Dirt/wooded
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs are welcome

This moderately trafficked loop is a hidden gem on Richmond’s southside. Along the ~2 mile loop of this multi-use trail, visitors can enjoy scenic wooded views with dirt trails, sloping hills, small creeks, and a handful of switchbacks. Entrance to the trail starts at the end of a cul-de-sac near suburban townhomes.

Occasionally, visitors may be able to hear traffic from nearby highways. However, once visitors venture deeper into the woods, the sounds of the city become less apparent and hikers can enjoy the lush greenery and wondrous nature of the woods. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

Virginia Capital Trail in Virginia
Virginia Capital Trail

Difficult hikes in Richmond

James River North Bank and Buttermilk Loop Trail

  • Length: 6.2 mile loop
  • Terrain: Dirt/wooded
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs welcome

This is another moderately trafficked, multi-use trail with multiple entrances in downtown RVA. During this 6.2 mile loop, hikers and mountain bikers will encounter a series of hills, twists and turns, and sharp switchbacks along this mostly dirt and wooded trail.

Visitors can access the trail from one of the three separate entrances at 21st Street, Reedy Creek, or the Nickel Bridge. While making the walk to the entrance, visitors will get to enjoy views from the banks of the James River.

This is generally a difficult hike with varying terrain. Furthermore, trail users are encouraged to hike with a buddy and display proper trail etiquette. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

Virginia Capital Trail

  • Length: 52 miles!
  • Terrain: Paved
  • Dog-friendly? Yes, leashed dogs are welcome

Finally, test your skills on the Virginia Capital Trail! This 52 mile trail is paved and mostly flat with occasional sloping hills, making it a difficult but rewarding hike near Richmond. However, the length of this trail makes it a unique challenge for experienced hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

The entrance to the trailhead is located in RVA’s Shockoe Bottom district and the trail runs all the way from Richmond to Williamsburg. Those who are up for the challenge can follow the length of this point-to-point trail while stopping at restaurants, bars, and campsites along the way. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

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