When it comes to outdoor recreation amenities, Henrico County doesn’t exactly lead the way in the region. Take water access: The county was lots of frontage on the James River, but very few access points. The same is true on the Chickahominy River, but that changed this week, when a new non-motorized boat put-in opened up on the Chick near the Grapevine Bridge (N. Airport Drive near exit 31 on I-295).
The effort to create the access point and the trail next to it was a project of the James River Association, in conjunction with the county, VDOT and the National Park Service.
The Grapevine Bridge access site is part of the larger Chickahominy Water Trail, a segment of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. This non-tidal section of the Chickahominy River played an important role in the history of the nation, from Captain John Smith’s explorations to the Civil War.
Improvements to the site were implemented entirely through volunteer efforts, and include a new walkway that levels out the trail, a boat launch along the river for canoe and kayak access, benches, a picnic table, interpretive signage and native trees and shrubs. The walkway and benches were constructed by a local Boy Scout as part of his final Eagle Scout project, which will help qualify the site as ADA accessible.
“The James River Association is extremely excited to open this new access point to the Chickahominy Water Trail, which offers a true wilderness experience for visitors just 15 minutes from downtown Richmond,” said Jamie Brunkow, Lower James Riverkeeper.
Through this partnership, VDOT will maintain the Grapevine Bridge parking area while Henrico County will maintain the boat launch and trail in perpetuity.