On Friday I spent the day hiking around the James River. My main focus was the James River Park System’s Buttermilk Trail. This trail is used for hiking and mountain biking. I did this trail along with some other areas so it ended up being close to a ten mile hike. This is the route I took:
To get to the trail I started at the James River Pipeline. While I was on the pipeline, I noticed a blue crab in the river! Apparently, blue crabs can spend some time in fresh water! It was a fascinating find.
Once I finished the pipeline, I went to Brown’s Island. From there I walked along Tredegar Street to the Belle Isle Suspension Bridge. I crossed the bridge to Belle Isle, walked past the bike skills area and went over a foot bridge in the dry rocks area. If you look to the right here, you will see the abandoned hydroelectric plant.
The path eventually leads to a staircase that brings you up to the actual Buttermilk Trail. You have the option to go left to “Buttermilk East” or right to the regular Buttermilk Trail and Buttermilk Heights. I went to the right.
On The Trail:
The actual trail itself is quite wooded so there is some protection from the sun. Because this is also a mountain biking trail, it is uneven in several parts. There are also some stream crossings, so if you are hiking wear sensible shoes. If you start by Belle Isle, you will go past two parking lots along the trail. It is fairly easy to navigate where you need to go, but I had a map up on AllTrails just in case.
At around the halfway-ish point, you come to a short offshoot that I would highly recommend. It is small loop inside an abandoned quarry. According to the map, there is another quarry loop but I did not see the signs for that on my trip.
The main trail comes to an end by the Boulevard Bridge. From here, you can either turn around or cross the bridge and start the North Bank Trail. I turned around just before the Boulevard Bridge and headed back.
Once I was done with the main part of the trail, I took Buttermilk East over to the Manchester area. I went under a bridge and came to some parts that were sidewalk.
After I connected to the Potterfield Bridge, I went back to Brown’s Island. From there, I returned to the Pipeline and saw a few more blue crabs. It was a great day on the river!