Now that spring is finally here, we’re all looking for ways to get out of the house and enjoy the warmer temperatures and blooming landscapes. Whether you live in the city of Richmond or one of the surrounding counties, you already know that there are ample outdoor opportunities awaiting. From parks to neighborhood playgrounds, you’ll have no trouble finding places for the kids to play. But if you’re looking for something a little faster-paced, but still fun for the whole family, then bike trails might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Richmond has long been known as a biker’s paradise. From rugged bike trails along the James River ideally suited to mountain bikers to quieter paved paths just right for beginners, there’s something for everyone. Needless to say, if your family is searching for places to get out and ride bikes together, you’ve got choices. But with SO many options available, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start – especially if you have a range of ages or skill levels to consider.
To help you find the best bike trails for the whole family, we’ve done a little digging ourselves. The following five Richmond-area bike trails stood out to us for the following reasons:
- They offered surfaces and topography for all skill levels
- They provide plenty of stops and interesting sites
- They are easy to access with plenty of parking andd/or entrance points
If you’re ready to tune up your family’s bikes after their long winter hibernation, then these five amazing bike trails in the Greater Richmond area are the perfect place to start. And of course, if you have a favorite bike trail that we’ve overlooked, we would love to hear about it! Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Virginia Capital Trail
Opened in 2015, the Virginia Capital Trail connects Virginia’s colonial capital of Williamsburg to the present day capital in Richmond. The trail parallels the Scenic Route 5 corridor and offers glimpses of the countless sites and landscapes that shaped Virginia’s history over the last 400 years. With 52 miles of dedicated, paved trails, it’s perfect for for a family bike ride – even if you have beginning bike riders in your crew. If you don’t have bikes for everyone or want to enjoy a guided excursion, be sure to visit Basket and Bike for rentals, guided tours, and more.
Why we love it: The best part of this bike trail is that it’s a history tour and bike trail all in one. Stop and explore amazing historical sites like Westover and Berkeley plantations, both of which offer beautiful grounds for exploration or a picnic. Likewise, Shirley Plantation also lies along the route and is a lovely, “mini-Williamsburg” on the James River, offering a grand home for touring, historic outbuildings, and farm animals. Or download the all-new historical markets audio tour on your smartphone to learn about the many historical sites that line this trail. You can learn more or download the app here.
Location: Various points throughout the city and along Route 5. Visit the interactive trail map to find entrance points near you, picnic spots, bike rentals, and much more.
2. Belle Isle Bicycle Skills Area
If you have a more adventurous crew, from beginning mountain bikers to more advanced, Belle Isle is the perfect place to hone your skills. Belle Isle, a small James River island within the city limits, not only offers incredible city views, historical sites, and beautiful scenery, but it also features the Belle Isle Bicycle Skills Area. The Belle Isle Bicycle Skills Area is more than 18 miles of local mountain bike trails running through the island, along the James River, and into Forest Hill Park, offering obstacles for everyone from beginners to more advanced riders. Directly across Belle Isle from the pedestrian bridge, you’ll find Forest Hill Park which is perfect for riders of all ages and offers play areas, picnic spots, and more.
Why we love it: Whether you’re looking for an adventure or a more placid ride, the trails that comprise the Belle Isle Bicycle Skill Area offer something for everyone. Your daredevils can enjoy obstacles like logs, rock gardens and drop-offs, as well as a full-size pump track for improving rhythm and stamina. But if you also have little ones along, there are plenty of smooth, flat trails that will help them gain confidence.
Location: Lee Bridge Richmond, VA 23225
3. Mid-Lothian Mines Park
One of the first major industrial sites in the United States, the site of Mid-Lothian Mines Park became a 44-acre preserve in 2004. This historic park is dedicated to the citizens of Chesterfield County, past and present, and includes stone ruins of the mines that once stood here. With trails throughout the park, you and the family can enjoy the beautiful woodlands, as well as historical stops along the way. For a complete look at the park, be sure to download the trail map here.
Why we love it: Mid-Lothian Mines Park is not just a great place for bikes, but it’s a fantastic family outing. It’s easy to make a full day out of a visit to the park thanks to guided tours of the park’s history; a pond with turtles, geese and ducks; fishing spots; and starting in spring, tons of special events, including a concert series that starts in May!
Location: 13301 N Woolridge Rd, Midlothian, VA 23114
4. Powhite Park
This park is tucked away, but well worth finding. Featuring over 100 acres, the park is a hidden gem just off the Powhite Parkway. Despite the busy roads that surround it, you’ll find an oasis of hardwoods, wildlife, beeches, and hollies – making it the perfect place to ride if you want to be a part of nature. With trails for all skill levels, the whole family can escape into the woods for a day of fun, exploration, and easy exercise.
Why we love it: Powhite Park is an unexpected treasure in the heart of an urban area. But what we love most is the variety if offers. If you have experienced mountain bikers, they’ll love the fast flowing singletrack, featuring rocky sections, log piles, and roots. But they’ll especially love “The Buzz,” a dried out creekbed that is a mountain biker’s dream come true. For those in your crew wanting a simpler ride, the parks 2-mile outer loop offers a quiet, low-traffic place to ride and commune with nature all at once.
Location: 7200 Jahnke Rd, Richmond, VA 23235
5. The Wetlands
The Wetlands, on the south bank of the James River system, is attached to the ever-popular Pony Pasture Rapids Park. With plenty of trails and paths to follow through the Wetlands, it’s a great spot for bikers of all ages and skill level. Especially as the weather gets warmer, your family will love the pond, beaches, unique wildlife, and perhaps most of all, the beautiful views. The area offers many small trails through the woods, but also offers a main gravel path wide and smooth enough children to bike safely.
Why we love it: While Pony Pasture is incredible in every way with it’s large river rocks, trails, and beautiful beachy areas, it gets crowded as soon as the sun comes out. The Wetlands is a quieter, less crowded alternative, but still offers access to river scenery. If your family loves nature exploration, particularly wildlife, they’ll love the peaceful trails that meander through the Wetlands. Ride the trails, stop for wildlife viewing or birdwatching at wildlife blinds along the path, – and if you’re still up for a Pony Pasture adventure at the end of the day, you’ll find it just upstream!
Location: 3395 Landria Dr, Richmond, VA 23225