Richmond is not only the capital city of Virginia, but it’s also one of the oldest cities in America. The rich history of the area draws in thousands of visitors a year. Despite this, there remains a small-town charm to Richmond that is appealing to residents.
Many of the trails within Richmond have views of the James River, which is the main waterway that runs through the city. With so many secluded urban hikes to choose from, residents can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a peaceful hour wandering around in the natural beauty of the area.
Most of the trails in Richmond are dog-friendly, which enables hikers to bring their furry adventure partners along for the trip. If you’re hiking during the summer, take the proper precautions such as a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen (and bug spray!).
1. Forest Hill Park Trail
Forest Hill Park is a great spot for birding, hiking, and mountain biking. This trail takes around an hour to complete, making it a quick getaway into nature for those needing a reprieve from city life.
The park is open year-round and there is plenty of shade, making it perfect for sunny days. Dogs are welcome to join their owners but must be kept on a leash. There is a quaint pond in the middle of the loop, making for a great view.
This is a forest trail that’s set in an urban area. If you’re looking for an escape into the solitude of nature, this may not be what you’re looking for. However, it’s well traveled and popular amongst the locals looking for a short hike. You may even spot some wildlife if you arrive early.
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 278 Feet
2. Buttermilk Trail
This moderate out-and-back hike is located in James River Park. It’s a popular spot for birders around Richmond, as well as hikers and mountain bikers. Everyone remains courteous of each other, as this is a multi-use path.
Dogs are to remain on a leash, though this rule isn’t always strictly enforced. There are many different trails to explore and you can hop onto one of the side trails if you want to add or subtract to your overall mileage.
Buttermilk Trail becomes narrow in some sections and has lots of turns, so it’s not wheelchair-friendly or easily manageable with a stroller. There is beautiful scenery around the park and though this is an urban hike, you may even spot some wildlife roaming around.
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 410 Feet
3. Texas Beach Trail
This trail is located in Texas Beach Park, which is where it gets its name. The trial is a blend of both a river and wooded forest path, which makes for a nice change of scenery from the city. The best time to hike this area is between February and March.
You’ll have to return the same way you came, as this is an out-and-back trail. There is a great sense of solitude in the early morning hours when you can hear the sounds of the geese and birds along the river.
Tough footing sections and some minor elevation changes can make this challenging for some novices but the trail remains easy overall. There are roots and stumps to look out for along the surface of the trail.
Arrive early to get parking, as the lot can become full later in the day. Bug spray is also a must during the warm months so you don’t get eaten alive by mosquitos and other insects!
Distance: 3.4 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 124 Feet
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4. Maymont Park Garden Trail
This loop trail is great for both birding and hiking, so feel free to bring a pair of binoculars to get a closer look. The best time to visit is anywhere between January and November, though December can be pretty as well — just cold!
No dogs are allowed on this trail, so your pup will have to sit this adventure out. There are occasionally special events held here and dogs may be allowed to those, so check ahead.
If you enjoy beautiful botanical views, as well as a Koi fish pond, this hike provides a stunning array of things to look at. There are even goats, cows, and other farm animals nearby.
Both parking and entrance to this park are free, making it a great budget-friendly option. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to explore or a place to take your children to see animals, this botanical garden area is a great choice.
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 236 Feet
5. Pony Pasture Rapids Trail
This loop trail is open year-round and is a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and birders looking to spot some native wildlife. Dogs must remain on a leash and there are no designated off-leash areas on the trail.
James River Park has several trails to choose from and they’re all well-maintained and clearly marked. This particular trail surface is made up of crushed gravel. It may become muddy after rainfall, so wear appropriate footwear.
Parking is easy to find and there are public restrooms available. This is a great hike for beginners as they’ll be able to get a taste of traversing on switchbacks, and there’s no significant elevation gain.
If you want to add mileage, you can simply take the loop again. There are several trails in the area but none that interconnect with this one.
Distance: 2.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 16 Feet
6. Belle Isle Trails
This is another trail located in James River Park. It includes a suspension bridge over the river, which is a highlight of this moderate 1.2-mile hike. As a bonus, it’s also wheelchair and stroller friendly so everyone can enjoy the sights.
Dogs are welcome but must remain leashed. There have been snake sightings in the area, so you’ll want to keep your pup close by to avoid any potential incidents.
There is pavement as well as railings at the bridge, with the rest of the trail being made of packed gravel and dirt. The trail is consistently 3-5 feet wide.
Hikers can view the historical ruins along the path, as well as expansive views of the James River. If you’re looking for panoramic photo opportunities, this trail has several of them.
Distance: 1.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 88 Feet
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7. North Bank Trail
The North Bank out-and-back trail is popular with birders, fishermen, and hikers from Richmond. There is plenty of shade, making this a great option on sunny and bright days.
Though you’ll catch glimpses of downtown Richmond, you can also feel secluded in the woods and get lost in nature. There are a few switchbacks, as well as views of the James River and the canal.
The trail itself is well-maintained, but it can be narrow and a bit rocky at times; for those with mobility issues, this may not be the best option. If you bring your dog along for the hike, they must stay leashed.
Though not wheelchair-accessible, this trail is a great option for those with young kids. They’ll be able to manage the relatively short distance, and with no significant elevation change, they can hike the path on their own.
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 209 Feet
8. Joseph Bryan Park Trails
This loop trail is great for birders and hikers and you shouldn’t expect to encounter many cyclists. This pedestrian-friendly trail is popular amongst the locals and it’s located within a suburban park.
Hikers will encounter a variety of terrain, as well as woods, streams, and even paved roads. Parking is easy and there are benches and picnic tables along the path, making it easy to stop for a quick break.
There is access to a small creek, where dogs can enjoy playing in the water. They must be kept leashed while doing so. Overall, this is a great short hike for beginners and even for those more advanced who are looking for a quick sub-hour hike.
Distance: 1.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 72 Feet
9. Powhite Park Loop Trail
This trail is located in Powhite Park and is a great option for those with young children. The trail is easy to navigate and it’s mostly formed from dirt paths, with a stream running nearby.
Dogs are welcome to join the family on their hike but keeping them on a leash is recommended. This area is considered by locals to be an oasis, so being respectful of the natural area is important to keep it beautiful for everyone else to enjoy.
Several trails criss-cross into this one, making it easy to jump onto another one if you want to keep going. There is plenty of shade from the tree cover, so you can catch a break during the sunny days of summer.
Reviews recommend taking the trail counterclockwise, so there are more downhill segments. If you’re seeking a challenge, clockwise would be a more strenuous workout.
Distance: 2.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 157 Feet
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10. Floodwall and Slave Trail
This out-and-back trail holds important historical significance to the history of Richmond, Virginia. There are various plaques along the trail that relate and delve into the state’s slave trade from many years ago.
Hikers can also find scenic views and prime sunset-watching territory. There is often wildlife in the area, including turtles by the James River. There tends to be plenty of parking, so you can arrive at any time of the day.
If you’re looking for an eye-opening hike that doubles as a history lesson, this is a great spot to check out. You’ll leave feeling tired and full of topics to continue researching further.
Dogs are welcome, though they must remain leashed. There are unfortunately no areas where they’re allowed to go off-leash on this trail.
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 147 Feet
11. Larus Park
This loop trail takes around an hour to complete, making it the perfect option for a midday hike or trail run. Larus Park has over 100 acres of wooded property, making it the perfect escape into natural solitude.
Hikers have their choice of several single-track trails and can easily get several miles under their belt. There is even a small creek for leashed dogs to cool off in. If there has been recent rainfall, you may want to wear waterproof boots in case of mud.
Gently rolling hills surround the area and the sounds of the creek are pleasant enough to lull you into a nap once you’ve finished your hike. You’ll forget that you’re near the suburbs of Richmond once you enter the shaded forest section of the trail.
There is very minor elevation gain but you can still get a decent workout in if you hike briskly. Trails are well-maintained but sometimes the markings aren’t easily visible. Therefore, you should consider downloading a map before your hike unless you don’t mind becoming momentarily lost.
Distance: 2.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 269 Feet
12. Pony Pasture Rock Trail
This loop trail provides hikers with a view of the James River and in some sections, you can even hear the rapids. Water shoes or waterproof hiking shoes are recommended for wet sections.
This is a great hike for families and though it’s labeled as moderate, many young children will have no problem with this short hike. There are segments of the trail for rock jumping, hence the water shoes, and it may get muddy after heavy rainfall.
This trail combines river views, forest enclosures, and swamp land, which makes for an interesting hike. You may even consider bringing a book or picnic lunch so you can sit by the water and continue to enjoy the view after you’re done hiking.
This is a fairly short trail but it makes up for it in the surrounding scenery. You can always walk it several times to boost the mileage and to get a stronger workout in.
Distance: 0.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3 Feet
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13. Richmond Riverfront Phase Trail
This out-and-back hike is a quick 3-mile trek in the heart of downtown Richmond. This is a great option if you’re visiting the city for the first time and want to get out and explore the outdoors.
Dogs must be kept on a leash and owners should remain courteous of others sharing the trail. You may see road bikers and trail runners as well.
The trail takes you along the canal and there is very little elevation gain throughout this hike. There are also benches along the path if you want to take a break or simply wish to sit down to take in the city views.
When you want to catch a sunset in Richmond, this is a great spot to do so. You’re unlikely to be sharing the trail with many others, so you can find some peace and quiet amidst a busy city.
Distance: 3.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 108 Feet
14. Chimborazo Park Trail
This loop trail is popular with birders around Richmond, as well as avid hikers and mountain bikers. The trail is dog-friendly but they must be kept on a leash. If you want to take them off leash, there is a dog park at the bottom of the hill where you can do so.
If you’re looking for stunning views of the city, as well as the James River, then this trail has you covered on all fronts. Feel free to bring the kids out, as the hike is not very difficult and there’s no significant elevation change.
The trail is well-marked and you won’t have trouble following the trail. Chimborazo Park is a great spot to catch sunrises and sunsets, especially near the bluff overlook. Many locals head to this park to relax during the evenings.
Distance: 0.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 49 Feet
15. Robious Landing Short Loop
This loop trail is located in Robious Landing Park, which is a popular destination for hikers and trail runners. Due to the short length and lack of elevation gain, this is a great family-friendly hike to bring the little ones on.
Hikers will experience the stunning James River views, as well as the wooded segments of the trail by the water. If you’re looking for a well-kept and heavily traveled urban trail, this loop is a great way to get exercise daily.
There are several side trails that you can add to your hike to increase your overall mileage. For the area residents, this park and loop are a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. It’s important that visitors remain respectful and clean up after themselves, as well as pack out any trash they brought with them.
Distance: 0.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 16 Feet