New Year, New Trail! Get Your Hands Dirty at Pocahontas SP and Belle Isle this Saturday

Pocahontas State Park:
Our friends at the trail building/ mountain bike advocacy group RVA MORE are getting the new year started right. Come out and help them put down some new trail at Pocahontas State Park. “The Chute” as they’re calling it, is a new alternate line on Zero Trail, and it’s going to be a good one. They can use all the help they can get to bring it home. Meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Courthouse Road parking lot (7298 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA).

Belle Isle Skills Park:
The Belle Isle Skills Park is fun for all ages, but it needs some TLC! Come out and join the RVA MORE trail crew Saturday at 9 a.m. to help get some work done. Parking is available in the Belle Isle lot, and it’s a short walk over to the island from there.

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Big North Bank Trail Project to Begin in the New Year

The project would create close to a half mile of new singletrack (red dotted line).

Earlier today I spoke with Mike Burton, city trails manager and interim James River Park Superintendent, about the future of the proposed North Bank Trail segment that would take hikers and bikers between the stone switchbacks next to Maymont and the Texas Beach entrance to the JRPS entirely off Kansas Avenue and on trail.

We wrote about this recently, and a volunteer day was even scheduled to begin the large undertaking. But then some neighbors, specifically those with property contiguous to the project, raised concerns about trail traffic and making sure users don’t come on to private property. Burton said he and his staff met with those property owners and everything looks good to break ground on the project soon.

“That’s priority one after the first of the year,” he said.

So, check back here for updates about how you can get involved when the time comes.

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North Bank Trail Work Update (and Other Trail Happenings)

After announcing Saturday’s North Bank Trail work day, city trails manager Mike Burton said there were a few questions raised by community and neighborhood members in the Maymont area where the trail will be located. Burton stressed that the trail is squarely on public property and this will only be a short delay, but he said both the James River Park System trail crew and rvaMORE want to engage with these groups and ensure that all questions are answered prior to breaking ground on the new trail.

Local trail builders have hit the pause button on the North Bank Trail project scheduled to begin Saturday, Nov. 17.

So, to allow the time for this to happen, Saturday’s work day will be postponed. A new date will be announced as soon as possible, and of course we’ll have that info here. Burton said the delay isn’t likely to be more than a couple of weeks.

In the meantime there are other trail events going on this Saturday:

Terrapin Beer Co. Trail Build Day @ Pocahontas:
Join the folks from Terrapin Beer Co. on Saturday November 17 as the rvaMORE trail crew will be working on a new section of trail at Pocahontas State Park. Come eat good food, meet other great people, work together, and enjoy maintaining and enhancing the trails. Starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, CLICK HERE for tickets and more details.

Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day @ Belle Isle:
Join rvaMORE for its annual Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day! This IMBA developed event encourages communities around the world to join together and ride mountain bikes with youth. The event is open to children of all ages and riding abilities.  Starts at 1 pm this Saturday, Nov. 17 on Belle Isle, CLICK HERE  for tickets and more details.

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Huge New Trail Segment Going in at North Bank!

A rider navigates North Bank Trail past the walkway to Texas Beach: Credit:

If you heard our recent Views from the Treehouse podcast with city trails manager and interim James River Park Manager Mike Burton, you already know this news, but it’s downright huge so I thought it was worth a separate post (and there’s a chance to get involved).

From rvaMORE: Everyone who’s ridden, run, or hiked the North Bank Trail is familiar with the maybe quarter-mile section of pavement along Kansas Ave. It links two sections of the trail, including the infamous, rocky switchback and ramp climb next to Maymont, affectionately known as “The Stairway to Heaven.”  It’s an iconic part of the JRPS system; but what about those times you don’t want to take the road to get back on dirt?  Well now is your time to help make that possible!
On Saturday, Nov 17th the James River Park System trail crew and rvaMORE will be hosting the first volunteer work day on a new single track connector that will link the two sections of North Bank trail that are currently separated by Kansas Ave. This trail, which will run just north of the canal, will make it possible to take North Bank from end to end without touching pavement! The approximate location of the trail is indicated by the red dashed line on the map.  The ramps and single track of the Stairway to Heaven will remain in place so there will be two options on which route to take.
This is going to be a big project, so they’ll need as many hands as possible. If you’re interested in helping:  Meet at the Texas Beach parking lot off of Texas Ave (Map: at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 17th Bring gloves, sturdy work shoes, and water.

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Just 80 Miles from RVA, Widewater Becomes Virginia’s 38th State Park

Governor Ralph Northam today officially opened Widewater State Park in Stafford County, the Commonwealth’s 38th state park. Widewater State Park covers 1,100 acres, including two miles of water frontage along the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.

Widewater State Park in Stafford County is just 1 hour and 30 minutes from Richmond. Credit: Va. State Parks

“Virginia’s state parks attract millions of visitors each year, serving as affordable vacation destinations and adding to the economic vitality of the communities where they are located,” said Governor Northam. “With the dedication of this new state park we build upon Virginia’s legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship and expand opportunities for the public to experience our Commonwealth’s natural beauty and renowned system of state parks.”

The property was originally purchased by Dominion Energy as a site for a proposed power plant. The property was later approved for development of 700 residential units, a resort conference center and extensive infrastructure. Dominion sold the property for $1 million less than the assessed value in 2013. The Trust for Public Land and Stafford County assisted in the transaction.

“The development of a low-impact state park on waterfront property significantly reduces the possibility of increased water quality degradation,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “More than 73,000 acres of Virginia are protected as state parks, and only a small fraction of the property is ever improved or developed. We are pleased that this land will be protected for generations to come.”

The visitor center at Widewater State Park. Credit: Va. State Parks

Funding for the $6.1 million property was from Virginia Public Building Authority bonds and a federal appropriation of $225,000 secured by Virginia’s congressional delegation through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“State parks host 10 million visitors each year,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Widewater State Park allows us to provide water access in one of the most heavily populated areas of Virginia while maintaining the serenity people expect when they visit one of our 38 state parks.”

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Pocahontas State Park Dedicates 22 Miles of New Trails

State and local officials joined community and members of the Paralyzed Veterans of America last week to celebrate the completion of Pocahontas State Park’s Swift Creek Trail System, an crucial link in the Richmond Regional Ride Center.

Friday’s dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting at Pocahontas State Park.

The three-year project, funded through sponsor contributions of more than $400,000 and a state allocation of $400,000, encompasses 22 miles of trails, including eight miles of beginner trails and seven miles of handcycle-friendly trails.

The Swift Creek Trail System was required in order for the International Mountain Biking Association to certify the Richmond Regional Ride Center, which also includes the city’s downtown trails.

“The Swift Creek Trail System was the last, critical link in making the Richmond Regional Ride Center a reality,” said Pocahontas State Park manager Josh Ellington. “IMBA Ride Center certification requires a certain number of beginner trails, and our park had space available to build these important trails. We’re also proud to be able to offer the handcycle trails to a typically under-served group of park users.”

The Paralyzed Veterans of America hold off-road para-cycling expos at the park in the spring and fall.

“The trails at Pocahontas State Park were introduced to us as a vision to bring together off-road handcyclists and the mountain bike community through one of our members, Wayne Goodman,” said PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter President Charles Bradley. “He wanted everyone with physical challenges to be able to ride with the community and their families. We are proud to have achieved this through our mission of being a supportive community for capable heroes and to be part of bringing awareness of adaptive sports to the community.”

Sponsors and partners of the Richmond Regional Ride Center include Altria, Chesterfield County, the Chesterfield Rotary Club, Dominion Energy, REI, UPS, MeadWestvaco, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, People for Bikes, Richmond 2015, RVA MORE, the Friends of Pocahontas State Park, the James River Park System, the International Mountain Biking Association, UCI Road World Championships, Ukrops, the Virginia Association for Parks and the Virginia Tourism Corp.

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Saturday To-Do List: 1) Donut at Farmers Market. 2) Re-Build Trail

The crossing is just below the “R” in “Reedy Creek on the map.

All of the rain we’ve received lately has done a number on the Reedy Creek crossing in Forest Hill Park. Heck, it’s done a number on pretty much every trail segment in the James River Park System (and other assorted trails in the region), but this spot is particularly bad. This Saturday, RVA MORE and the city trail crew will be having a work day to do some repairs to the crossing.

If you want to contribute to the rebuilding effort, meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 13th at the creek crossing. You can enter the trail where it crosses the paved path at the southern end of the park close to Forest Hill Ave. From there it is a short walk down to the creek crossing.

Bring gloves, sturdy work shoes and water. Keep in mind that the farmers market will be running at Forest Hill Park, so parking could be tight closer to the Stone House parking lot. That also means delicious donuts (and other goodies) will be available as pre-trail-building fuel. Street parking further down Forest Hill Avenue near the Patrick Henry School could be another option. Any cancellation will be sent out via email and posted on the rvaMORE facebook page.

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Pocahontas State Park Receives $30,000 for New Trail System

The Friends of Pocahontas State Park has been awarded a $20,000 grant from REI Richmond along with a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy. The combined $30,000 was given with the express intent of adding more hiking-specific trails to Pocahontas State Park’s already flourishing trail system.

Grant Smith, Store Manager from Richmond REI, presented a check to Friends member Jeff Samuels and Park Manager Joshua Ellington Thursday, July 5. Samuels, who has been with the Friends group since 2007 and is currently serving as the Director of Hiking Trails, explained the funding would go toward the construction of a new trail on the north shore of Swift Creek Lake.

Ellington has been park manager at Pocahontas State Park since 2015 and is extremely grateful of the community support. Opening new trails is a labor intensive process, says Ellington, “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers, the friends group and corporate beneficiaries…Thank you for continuing to make Pocahontas State Park a better place for this whole community.”

Development for the new trail system is scheduled to begin in August. Completed sections of
new trail will open to the public as early as September 2018.

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Head to a Va. State Park for Special Programs on National Trails Day

Walking and hiking are the top activities in Virginia’s 37 state parks, according to visitor surveys. That makes Saturday (June 2nd) — National Trails Day — the perfect day to head out to a state (or local) park and hit the dirt.

Join Va. State Parks as they participate in the American Hiking Society’s annual National Trails Day celebration. All 37 state parks are offering some sort of special trail programming and/or volunteer projects to help keep the trails in great shape for the more than 10 million annual visitors.

To find special programs at a park near you, check this listing. There are three state parks — Pocahontas, Powhatan and Bear Creek Lake — within an hour of downtown Richmond. But if you’d rather stay more local, check out this previous piece we ran that has some options for trail volunteering on Saturday.

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Celebrate National Trails Day on June 2nd

It’s not too early to start planning for National Trails Day on June 2nd, and RVA MORE, Richmond’s mountain biking/trail building club has the scoop on a number of events happening in the James River Park System and Pocahontas State Park. Information below:

Trail work with REI and Friends of Pocahontas State Park
Enjoy breakfast and then work on a hiking trail alongside REI and the Friends of Pocahontas State Park. Click here to find all the details for this event.

James River Park System 
Mountain Bike Ride with RVA MORE
Location: 21st Street parking lot
Along with the social mountain bike ride, there will be many other events happening around the river including guided hikes and trail runs! Booths will be set up in different areas where you can learn more about the outdoor organizations and programs involved with supporting the JRPS! Click here to view the full schedule for this event.

Pocahontas State Park
Trail work with rvaMORE and Bell Joy Ride.  After working on a mountain bike trail, there will be a women’s social ride and cookout with Molly’s Bicycle Shop. Click here to register for this event.

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