Top nav

James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 3.80'
Flow: 1630 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond

@rvatrailreport
  • Very warm today with highs in the mid 80's. The trails are in really good shape in the area. Everything is open.

Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 2:42am
Low Tide: 9:42am

Twitter Feed @RichmondOutside

Instagram Feed @RichmondOutside

Instagram
  • Friend of the program rvatrees gets ready to climb ahellip
  • Saw evidence of the growing controversy surrounding laruspark on ahellip
  • The pawpaws are in along buttermilktrail They should ripen inhellip
  • If you dont follow jamesriverpark you should The incomparable sandysdadhellip
  • Wish I could have gotten closer to this fella tohellip
  • Riding the wissahickon in philly is a blast every timehellip
  • The richmondoutside road trip arrived on the potomacriver in timehellip
  • Repost from Richmond fly fishing guide knotthereelworld  Floating thehellip
  • Met a new friend on the pooploop recently Taciturn fellowhellip
  • We have our first chick at the rvaospreycam ! Bornhellip
  • Big day at the rvaospreycam! Todays the first day thehellip
  • Looking for something to do on a gorgeous Sunday? Itshellip
Posted In: Features

Beavers, mountain bikers shape Richmond park

Leonard Adkins

December 4, 2012 11:02am

Credit: Leonard Adkins

Beavers living wild within the city limits of Richmond? Long-time residents may not be surprised by this, but I would never have thought such a thing existed when I moved to the area a few years ago.

It was on my first visit to Powhite Park — around 100 acres of land that exists incongruously as a natural area squeezed by housing developments, a hospital, and Chippenham Parkway—that I first encountered the beavers. Within sight of the culvert that carries Powhite Creek underneath the four-lane highway, these industrious rodents have created a wetlands environment suitable to their lifestyle.

A large percentage of the park’s users are mountain bikers and the trail network that is there can be quite bewildering to figure out. Within the hundred acres are scores of junctions and short pathways, but the good thing is that they all connect in some way or another—and you can’t get lost since you are almost always within sight, or at least sound, of houses or roads. My guess is that it would be about five miles if you were to walk each little trail segment without retracing any steps.

It’s on the more western, flatter side of the park that you will encounter the work of the beavers, such as gnawed trees and branches  (although on my last few visits here it seems I’m seeing fewer and fewer signs of them).  Of course, the park is also home to other wildlife, so keep an eye and an ear out for deer, turtles, skinks, and woodpeckers.

You might spot a belted kingfisher make a swooping dive into the slow-moving water of the creek in search of food. If successful, the bird will emerge a few moments later with a fish in its beak, sometimes emitting its distinctive dry rattle as it flies off to consume the meal.

An ancient Greek tale is the basis for a modern-day term and tells of the origin of kingfishers. Halcyone, daughter of the King of the Winds, threw herself into the sea to drown upon hearing of the death of her husband. She did not die, but rather she and the spirit of her husband were turned into kingfishers—birds having the power to calm tumultuous waters. Thus, our use of the phrase “halcyon days.”

The main portion of the trail system loops along the perimeter of the park, eventually doing a little bit of up and down in an oak and hickory forest. It’s nothing very strenuous, but at least enough to feel like you are getting in a bit of exercise. Once you’re familiar with the park, start to explore some of those interconnecting side trails and you’ll find some interesting things, such as the dried stream bed that the bikers use as a “half-pipe” riding course.

 

Getting there: Headed westbound on Chippenham Parkway, get off on the Jahnke Road exit. The park entrance is across the road from the exit ramp. Coming from the west, you will take the Jahnke Road exit, go under the parkway, and have to make a U-turn at the first light to come back to the park entrance.


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.


Comments