Richmond, Virginia, might not be at the top of your vacation list, but maybe it should be. Ranked as one of the best cities to soak up some history, it is also home to some of the best bike trails in the region. This outdoor lover’s paradise is affordable, too, which only boosts its small-town charm. From the budget-conscious to the most discerning travelers, Richmond offers a variety of accommodation choices and can fit any price range.
Image via Flickr by Gamma Man
Since hosting the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships, Richmond has emerged as a popular place to ride. There are biking options for everyone, even novice riders who would prefer to pedal in town. Offering a true breath of fresh air, Richmond’s diverse collection of trails can satisfy almost any expectation, leaving you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to ride. So pack your bags, get outdoors, and check out these top five trails in Richmond.
1. Virginia Capital Trail
Image via Flickr by VaDOT
Step back in time as you ride the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile pathway that links Richmond to Jamestown via the scenic Route 5 Corridor. The Capital Trail is pedestrian-friendly, and offers a unique peek into the past. Beginning at the Governor’s Mansion, this route winds through both Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, and it features interactive kiosks along the way.
2. James River Park
Image via Flickr by vastateparksstaff
Hit the trails of James River Park, which is home to the XTERRA East Championship, and explore some of the best mountain biking in the area. The popular Belle Isle, Buttermilk, and North Bank trails are sure to bring excitement as you pedal through rocks and meadows, losing yourself in the serenity of the river rapids crashing beside you. Extend your ride by connecting to Forest Hill Park, and get an additional 5 miles of single track to enjoy.
3. Powhite Park Trail
Image via Flickr by aboutmytripdotcom
If narrow twists and quick descents are your thing, you won’t want to miss the Powhite Park Trail. This hilly adventure does require some skill. You’ll pass through fields of wildflowers and pedal through steep ravines, so riders are advised to keep to the marked trails. This challenging 8-mile loop features switchbacks and winds through the treetops. Advanced riders should seek out Doublerock for a chance to sharpen their technical skills. Many riders compare the tricky ups and downs of the Buzz to those of a roller coaster.
4. Wintergreen Resort
Image via Flickr by kyle tsui
If the day is yours to explore, consider travelling a bit outside of Richmond to hit the full cross-country loops at the Wintergreen Resort. Located less than two hours from the city, this tricky course offers ups and downs and isn’t recommended for beginners. Advanced thrill seekers can try the expert trail, which features a tough 1,000-foot vertical challenge. Unofficially known as the Cliffhanger, this trail even has its own annual race event that takes place in late spring. Daredevils beware; this one is difficult!
5. Pocahontas State Park
Image via Flickr by vastateparksstaff
For a great all-around ride, consider spending the afternoon pedaling the 64 miles of trails through Pocahontas State Park. The scenery is beautiful, and the trail requires a low level of technical skill, which makes it appealing to everyone. There are a few long climbs, but those are overshadowed by the exciting downhills that lead to small jumps and a great pace. This is a great option for families, and with so many miles to ride, it never seems to feel overly crowded.
Whether you prefer to pound the pavement or shift gears on the trails, Richmond has it all. Take advantage of this area’s affordability and savor its charming Southern hospitality. Plan a weekend to discover for yourself why this city is quickly becoming a fan favorite.