James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 10.00'
Flow: 28500 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 1:30am
Low Tide: 8:30am

Twitter Feed @RichmondOutside

Instagram Feed @RichmondOutside

  • Prince Humperdinck isnt the only one who can track this
  • Maggie and Walker are back! Richmonds most famous osprey pair
  • Have you checked out the new RichmondOutside podcast? riversideoutfittersrva owner
  • Really great day working with tons of volunteers clearing Evergreen
  • Cool newish sign at the north entrance to the Belle
  • New hardware atop Belle Isle will at least make it
  • Ralph White minced no words when it came to jrps
  • Friend of the program rvatrees gets ready to climb a
  • Saw evidence of the growing controversy surrounding laruspark on a
  • The pawpaws are in along buttermilktrail They should ripen in
  • If you dont follow jamesriverpark you should The incomparable sandysdad
  • Wish I could have gotten closer to this fella to
  • Riding the wissahickon in philly is a blast every time
  • The richmondoutside road trip arrived on the potomacriver in time
Posted In: Features

Dorey Park more than just picnic worthy

Leonard Adkins

April 11, 2012 2:23pm

I don’t know about you, but what comes to mind when I think of a city or county park is a few acres, several picnic tables, a kids’ playground, and maybe couple of odious pit toilets. At least that’s what I thought until a couple of weeks ago.

Laurie and I had just finished running an errand in southeastern Henrico County, an area we rarely go to, when we saw a directional sign for Dorey Park. Not knowing what to expect, but having yet to do our daily walk, we decided to check it out. It was a nice Sunday afternoon and, as we drove in, the crowds of people covering the large expanse of soccer fields conformed to my preconceived notions. Yet, as we drove further in, we passed by baseball and softball fields, a rehabilitated barn/recreation center, horse ring, and tennis courts to park beside scenic Dorey Lake.

The five-acre lake is part of the state’s Urban Fishing Program and more than a dozen anglers were trying their luck from the shoreline and the handicapped-accessible fishing pier. Several love-struck couples were strolling hand-in-hand, stopping every so often to gaze into each other’s eyes or watch the resident ducks go about their daily lives.

Unsure of where to go, we walked to the far side of the lake and that’s when we found the two-mile system of interconnecting pathways. Covered in gravel and resembling more of a service road than a hiking trail, the pathway, nonetheless, enabled us to leave the crowds behind and to enter the woods and pass turnoffs to a disc golf course and a mountain biking route.

Have you ever wondered what red maple, pignut hickory, sweet gum, or white oak look like? These trees, and others, are labeled, permitting you to make close-up observations of the texture of their barks, shapes of leaves, kind of seeds or flowers, and other identifiable characteristics. One of the labeled trees, holly, is very shade tolerant and is often found flourishing, as it is here, under the canopy of an older and taller forest. Unlike many other trees, hollies are either male or female—thus, they must be in proximity to each other for the female to bear fruit. The berries, which turn bright red in the fall, are a favorite winter food for birds and deer. Wild turkeys are sometimes seen feeding high up in the trees as well as on berries that have fallen to the ground.

Just before coming to the ball fields, the trail system circles back to the lake. As we walked along the shoreline, Laurie and I commented that, like Cheswick Park on the other end of Henrico County that I wrote about a few weeks ago, it’s a good thing that governments were willing to put forth expenditures several decades ago so that today’s urban residents can still make a quick escape into the woods. 

Getting there: Take I-64 Exit 195, drive 3.5 miles on South Laburnum Ave, turn left onto Darbytown Road and continue 1.3 miles to the park.

About Leonard Adkins

Leonard M. Adkins has hiked more than 19,000 miles exploring the backcountry areas of the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and the Caribbean, including his five traverses of the full length of the Appalachian Trail. He is the author of more than 17 books on the outdoors, nature, and travel; his latest is "Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Only Guide You Will Ever Need, Including Detailed Maps, GPS, and More." Paraphrasing a famous American humorist, Leonard once said, “I never met a trail I didn’t like.” Find more about him at www.habitualhiker.com.