Top Five Mountain Bike Trails in Richmond, VA

The James River Park System

The RVA mountain bike trails are in my backyard.    From Riverside Drive in Richmond I can pedal to the five best mountain bike trails in the city.  There is literally something for everyone.  There are rocks, bridges, creek crossings and 50 miles of fun to be had from here.  I am the luckiest woman on the planet.  Mountain biking is my passion and the James River is the river that makes my heart smile.   Let me tell you about the five best trails:

#1:  The Buttermilk trail is part of the James River Park trail loop.  Combined with Belle Islle and the North Bank trail, this trail loop runs along both banks of the James River between the Boulevard Bridge and the Robert E. Lee Bridge.  It is mostly singletrack and covers about nine miles.  The Buttermilk trail is a very challenging section and is not for the faint of heart.  But if you can ride this trail, you can tackle just about any mountain bike trail in the US.  Novices who do not want to take this trail can easily bypass it by riding the double track gravel trails from Reedy Creek. 

#2:  The Pirate trails in Richmond are not as technical as the James River Park trail loop but iare a great way of extending the main loop from Buttermilk East.  So if you are looking to add some extra mileage or want a great warm-up trail, this is the one.    This really fun section of simple and flowing short track combined with the Slave trail is 4.5 miles long and offers beginner friendly terrain.  That is why these trails are a favorite of the Women's Multisports of Richmond  group that leads beginner to intermediate evening rides every Tuesday weather permitting.

#3:  Forest Hill Park is a short offshoot of the Buttermilk trail and has a few longer climbs, tight turns, roots and a surprise concrete structure to cross.  But my personal favorite is the creek crossing which will test anyone's technical skills.   This trail is loved by hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers alike and is close to a local restaurant, a cozy coffee shop with outdoor seating and a local bike shop  and grocery store called the Outpost.

#4:  I personally love to ride to the Larus Park mountain bike trails from my house because riding along the James River on the road to get there has some of the best views of the rapids of the river.   Surrounded by the urban hustle and bustle of the city, Larus Park manages to remain virtually unknown to most Richmonders and is truly a hidden gem.  There is a  3-4 mile network of singletrack track trails and paths shoot off in all different directions, just begging to be followed by us urban explorers.

#5:  Hopefully someday soon there will be a greenway linking the  RVA mountain bike trails to Pocahontas State Park, but now most folks drive there from the city since riding on the roads there can be somewhat treacherous.  But it is well worth the drive.  You can spend the whole day riding all the trails in this park.  You will probably see deer, the occasional turtle and beautiful views of the Swift Creek lake.  My personal favorite is the Little West Virginia Trail which is more technical than the Buttermilk trail.  It is a short, intense loop with drop offs, small jumps, log pyramids, rock gardens and lots of logs to hop over.  The action just keeps coming with very few breaks but before you know it, the fun is over and your heart beat will return to normal.    Across the park is a favorite of beginners which is called the Blueberry Hill Trail.  A lift and tilt flow style trail built with hand-cyclists in mind, this 4.5 mile trail is fast and fun.  There are many banked turns and rollers that will put a little air between you and the ground.

This is just the tip of the iceberg!  The RVA mountain bike trails never cease to keep me occupied and provide hours of needed meditation and beautiful views.  I am definitely a lucky woman and am thankful that I have found my passion in mountain biking!







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