15 Best Hiking Trails Near Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA may be the capital of the state, but it also has a large number of great hiking trails for you to explore!

Hiking is one of my favorite activities. It is a great way to explore the city, parks, rivers, and nature around you, plus it is a great workout.

Richmond has a wide variety of different trails and paths available, including city canal walks, garden trails, and state park trails. Many of the trails are great for hiking, bicycling, running, and even horseback riding.

Below are my top recommendations for hiking trails in and near Richmond, VA.

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My Top Recommendations for the Best Hiking Boots
Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Lightweight Waterproof Shoe Hiking Boot. I own these hiking boots, and they are incredibly durable, with great ankle support, and excellent traction for slippery surfaces. Plus, they’re waterproof for extra protection.

Brooks Women’s Adrenaline. I also own these shoes, and they are my absolute favorite, go-to running shoes. They are also excellent for long walks and hikes. They have great traction, great heel stability, and they’re very comfortable.

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Virginia Capital Trail

Location

Length

51.7 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The Virginia Capital Trail is the top trail in the Richmond area. It is 51.7 miles long and runs from Richmond to Williamsburg. It is a great option for a longer hike in the region.

The trail travels through four jurisdictions: the City of Richmond, Henrico County, Charles City County, and James City County.

The Virginia Capital Trail is generally an easy trail that is perfect for all skill levels. The multi-use path is fully-paved and great for walkers, dog walkers, runners, bicyclists, and even skateboarders.

There are a ton of amenities along the trail, including restrooms, free parking, picnic areas, bike racks, and much more.

There are also a number of special attractions you can stop and visit along the trail, such as Richmond National Battlefield Park, The Virginia State Capitol building, Deep Bottom Park & Four Mile Creek, Belle Isle, Jamestown Settlement, Powhattan Indian Village, Colonial Williamsburg, and much more!

You can access a trail map online.


Buttermilk Trail

Location

Length

4.5 Miles

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

The Buttermilk Trail runs along the James River. There are three trails that make up the Buttermilk Trail: Buttermilk East, Buttermilk Proper Trail, and Buttermilk Heights.

The trail is popular among bird watchers, as well as hikers, bicyclists, and walkers.

The trail is one of the more moderate hikes in the area. It has some difficult stretches, particularly the Buttermilk Heights Trail. There are rocks, roots, stream crossings, and steep grades.


Learn all about my favorite hikes in Charlottesville, Virginia!


James River North Bank Trail

Location

Length

2.7 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The James River North Bank Trail is one of the best easy hikes in the Richmond area. The trail runs along the James River. It is particularly popular among bicyclists, though hiking is also common. The trail features lovely panoramic views of the James River.

The trail is also popular for mountain biking and bird watching.

One negative with the trail is that it can be narrow. Also, if you are hiking the trail, you will need to be mindful of the large number of bicyclists who also tend to be on the trail.


Here are My Top Must-Have Items to Bring on Your Next Hike!
1. Mountain Top 40L Hiking Backpack. This is my go-to favorite backpack! I’ve brought it all over the world. It has a rain cover, lots of room, plus it’s super durable and comfy.
2. Running Belt Waist Pack. For smaller hikes, this pack is a great way to bring your cell phone along for the journey. It’s thin and sleek.
3. Trekking Sticks. For more strenuous hikes, these walking sticks fold up for compact and easy travel.
4. Liquid I.V. This miracle powder will keep you hydrated in even the hottest conditions. Just mix with water.
5. Off Deep Woods Insect Repellant. The perfect weapon to keep pesky mosquitos away.

Belle Isle Trail

Location

Length

1.2 Miles

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

Belle Isle Trail is located at Belle Isle Park in Richmond. The trail is 1.2 miles in length and it loops around the park.

The path is popular among hikers, walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

Belle Isle Park is a great retreat right in the heart of the city. The park is located in the James River and has historic buildings, a suspension bridge, and even rock climbing.


Beaver Lake Trail

Location

Length

2.5 Miles

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

Beaver Lake Trail is located in Pocahontas State Park, about 23 miles south of Richmond. The trail is a 2.5-mile loop that goes around Beaver Lake.

The trail is popular among mountain bikers. There are some lovely water birds, such as Buffleheads, to view at the lake too.


Pocahontas State Park

Location

Length

90 Miles of Trails

Difficulty

Easy to Difficult

Description

Pocahontas State Park is located just 20 miles south of Richmond. It is actually the largest state park in Virginia. The park is 7,919 acres in size and has fishing, picnic tables, camping, cabins, an aquatics center, boat rentals, an amphitheater, horseback riding, and more.

There are 90 miles of trails within the park, so there is plenty of space to roam around and explore all that the park has to offer! Below are some of the main trails in the park.

  • Beaver Lake Trail (Moderate, 2.5 Miles)
  • Co-Op Trail (Easy, 4 Miles)
  • Forest Exploration Trail (Easy, 2.2 Miles)
  • Bright Hope Trail (Moderate, 5.1 Miles)
  • Power Line and Swift Creek Trails Loop (Easy, 1.9 miles)

You can find a trail guide online. You can access additional trail guides and information here.


James River Canal Walk

Location

Length

2.5 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The James River Canal Walk is an urban trail conveniently located right in downtown Richmond. As the name suggests, the trail runs along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall Canals.

The canal walk is a great place to explore the city on foot or bike. You can also take a canal cruise to explore the waterways by boat!

Along the path, you can visit historic markers and statues, and public art.


Texas Beach Trail

Location

Length

3.4 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The Texas Beach Trail is another trail conveniently located in Richmond. It is also located along the James River, near Texas Beach.

Note that the trailhead can be a little hard to find. It is just listed as “path” rather than by the name Texas Beach Trail.

Along the trail, there are some interesting colorful murals, a dirt trail, a boardwalk, and even the remnants of a mill dating from 1819.

The path itself can also be hard to navigate. There is a great detailed account of the trail on the GoHikeVirginia website, so check it out before you go!


Forest Hill Park Trail

Location

Length

2.7 Miles

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

The Forest Hill Park Trail is a 2.7-mile loop trail located in Forest Hill Park in Richmond. The park is in Virginia’s Historic Register. It is home to the historic Stone House.

The park also has a lake, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and even tennis courts. The park also hosts concerts in the summer.

The Forest Hill Park Trail is a little challenging, as it can be slippery and rocky. It is popular among hikers and mountain bikers. The trail is a great spot for wildlife and scenic views.


James River Park System Pony Pasture Rapids Trails

Location

Length

2.1 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The Pony Pasture Rapids Trail is located in James River Park. The trail features lovely scenic views of the James River, plus a forest and creek nearby. Parts of the trail are shaded, which is great for warmer weather hikes.


Maymont Park Garden Trail

Location

Length

2.7 Miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

The Maymont Park Garden Trail and Maymont Park Loop are located in Maymont Park in Richmond.

The park is 100 acres in size and boasts beautiful gardens in the spring and summer, which make it a lovely scenic retreat. There is a butterfly garden, vegetable garden, rain garden, Italian garden, and more.

Visitors can also explore The Robins Nature Center, Farm & Wildlife Habitats, Maymont Mansion, and much more.

Please note that dogs aren’t allowed on the trail.


Shenandoah National Park

Location

Length

Over 500 miles of trails, ranging from under 1 mile to over 14 miles

Difficulty

Easy to Difficult

Description

Shenandoah National Park is probably the number one hike destination in Virginia. It is also one of the most famous national parks in the country. The park is 200,000 acres in size and spans much of the Shenandoah Mountains in the western part of the state. It features many hiking trails, wildlife, gorgeous mountain views, waterfalls, picnic shelters, and much more. The park is perfect for nature lovers. Shenandoah is even home to black bears!

The park is a great place to go on a hike. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails at Shenandoah National Park.

Below is more information from the National Park Service on all of the different trails available at Shenandoah National Park:


Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Location

You can find a great interactive map of the entire Appalachian Trail online!

Length

2,180 Miles Total

Difficulty

Easy to Difficult

Description

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is probably the most famous trail in the United States. The epic trail spans over 2,180 miles and runs the length of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. A large part of it runs through the western part of Virginia.

An official brochure map of the entire trail can be found on the National Park Service website. The trail begins in Baxter State Park in Maine, and ends at Amicalola State Park in Georgia. Though I have yet to attempt the epic hike, it is a popular bucket list item for many outdoor enthusiasts and hikers.

You can find information on how to reach various points along the trail at this website.


Want to learn even more about the Best National Parks in Virginia? Check out my ultimate guide!


High Bridge Trail State Park

Location

Length

31 miles

Difficulty

Easy

Description

High Bridge Trail State Park is located about 60 miles west of Richmond, but it is a unique trail to explore in Central Virginia.

High Bridge Trail is 31 miles long, and is popular among hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders.

The highlight of the trail and park, as the name suggests, is High Bridge. The bridge is 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox Rive. It is also register as a Virginia Historic Landmark.

The trail was previously a rail bed, but is now a wide, level recreation trail made of crushed limestone.

There are numerous parking areas and restrooms in the park and along the trail.


Crabtree Falls

Location

Length

2.5-mile loop trail

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

Crabtree Falls is also further afield, however it features one of the best waterfall hikes in the state, and so it’s well worth the visit. It is about 120 miles west of Richmond.

The trail is located in the George Washington National Forest in Nelson County, Virginia, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The waterfalls are over 1,200 feet total in height, making them one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. 

Much of the trail ascends upwards along stone stairs located right beside the waterfalls. There are several overlooks along the way to allow hikers to stop, take pictures, and let other hikers pass.

Because much of the path is located next to the waterfalls, it is a very scenic trail. However, the path is rocky, steep, and can be treacherous. Hikers should use caution and make sure to always stay on marked trails. 

Hikers can choose to either reach the falls on a 0.9-mile trail and then head back the way they came to the parking lot, or they can continue on to walk the full 2.5-mile loop trail.

The longer 2.5-mile trail continues in a steep ascending switchback that runs beside the waterfall. The longer trail provides lovely up-close views of the beautiful waterfalls, however, it is steep, rocky, and can get crowded. The trail then levels off and continues along Crabtree Creek before returning to the parking lot. 

Crabtree Falls can be quite crowded, particularly on weekends and in the warmer months. Spring can be the best time to go to avoid the crowds in Summer. 

There is a parking lot, which can fill up quickly on crowded days. There is no entrance fee but there is a donation box at the entrance to the trail where you can leave a $3 donation to support the park. 


Learn about even more great hikes in Virginia!

Find the best hikes in Northern Virginia

Great Falls National Park in Northern Virginia

Explore the best hikes in and around Charlottesville, VA

Hiking Trail