Volunteers work the east bank of Reedy Creek in Forest Hill Park where the bridge once stood. Credit: Richard Chittick
You’ve gotta love the resourcefulness of the guys who build trails for the city of Richmond. A few weeks back, we reported on the bridge over Reedy Creek that was washed away during a crazy thunderstorm. The bridge saw lots of traffic from mountain bikers, hikers, dog walkers and Forest Hill Park lovers in general, and its loss meant a rather lengthy detour down the creek, across the Harvey Bridge and back up the asphalt path
I spoke with Mike Burton, city trails manager, shortly after the washout and he told me about all the solutions they were debating. Among them was a new, washout-proof bridge, which he estimated would cost well over $60,000. Another was re-routing the trail across the creek bed and back up the steep embankment on the east side of Reedy. But he wasn’t sure that was possible.
Well, as I found out on a recent ride, Burton and his trail building crew, with a lot of help from volunteers, made the much cheaper, cross-creek option a reality. As the pictures show, it started with tree and brush clearing, moved on to rock hefting and bench cutting, and, voila!, you’ve got yourself a creek crossing nearly at the same place as the old one that was expensive in sweat but not cash. It’s a tough ride for beginners due to the steepness of the west bank, but it is cool to cross Reedy at stream level, and it’s a significant upgrade from the detour.
Burton said it’s not quite finished yet. The climb up the west bank will require some rock armoring, for instance. But he said he hopes to have the crossing complete in time for the Tour de Fall Line later this month.
If you’re in Forest Hill Park, go check out the crossing for yourself.. It’s just downstream of where Reedy Creek crosses under Forest Hill Avenue).
Well-placed rocks now lead riders and walkers across Reedy Creek. This view looks west.
In this view, trail users have crossed the rocks pictured above and hike up and out of the creek toward Patrick Henry Elementary School.