The cove on Chapel Island. Credit: Veronica Reddic
Hello trailheads, the weather has been funky out there lately and it’d be nice to see some consistency come along. This should keep you in the mood to continue checking out spots that the James River has to offer and get you pumped up for that warm weather to spend much needed time at the river hanging out. The spot I bring to you today — Chapel Island — is awesome; it doesn’t offer too much in terms of hiking distance, but you and your pup will love what it has to offer.
Chapel Island is a piece of land that runs along 14th street to Pear Street in the Shockoe Bottom area of downtown Richmond. Throughout the island and along the way to get there, you’ll see lots of history from when it was used to as a harbor and boat-building area in the early 1800’s. To get to the island you’ll need to cross over the canals at Shiplock Park. Once you cross you will be stepping foot into history. If you make your way down the stairs, you’ll run into a nice calm cove where the water from the canal overflows into. Along this cove are plenty of beach spots that give you access to the water for a nice swim. The water here is shallow, and you can walk quite a ways out into the river. When there hasn’t been rain for awhile, the water is clear, and you’re able to see where you’re walking. This is a perfect place to take water-shy dogs for their first swim since the water here is calm and you’re able to get in with them and help them along.
Swimming off of Chapel Island. Credit: Veronica Reddic
There are several trails along the island that you and your pup can check out. Off to the right of the cove is a trail that leads further into the island. The trails split off in many directions giving lovely views of the river. Along one trail you will run into large concrete walls, this is what’s left of the Trigg Shipyard where warships were built. The area isn’t a very big hiking sight, but the trails do go all over and you can go through thick brush, hop over fallen trees and even climb over a few. Toward the back of the island, you’ll find a trail that leads out and goes upriver towards Browns Island. This trail will take you all the way around to the Canal Walk where you can walk along the canal and enjoy the city.
Be advised, after a good rain the area can get very muddy and very slippery, so take caution if you visit after a heavy rain. This is such a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but more fun during the warm days of summer for a nice dip in the water.