James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 3.53'
Flow: 1160 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 6:42pm
Low Tide: 1:12pm

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Trailbuilding on Chapel Island

December 17, 2012 9:48pm

RichmondOutside.com has been live for just over a year now, and one of my favorite things about this gig over the past year has been communicating with the people who’ve emailed questions, comments, complaints, corrections, etc. Paul Keefer wrote me early on, talking about his river experiences living in Switzerland and how Richmonders would do well to emulate the Swiss relationship with the outdoors. Keefer has since led a monthly hike from Rocketts Landing to the Canal Walk area to shine the spotlight on what he thinks is an overlooked and underutilized part of the river. Here’s a recent email from Keefer with some pertinent info for those who might want to get their hands dirty this winter increasing river access in that area.

Despite the retirement of Ralph White, continuation of his work seems to be in good hands. And just maybe the budget won’t bust either. Great Shiplock Park and adjacent Chapel Island, underutilized and somewhat neglected to date, will be getting face lifts.

On successive Saturdays in January (12th and 26th), volunteers from several MeetUp groups, Riverside Outfitters and a few more park supporters will pitch in to start clearing additional trails, add interpretive signage and even install a boat ramp. Development comes from two very practical sources- a funding grant and free manpower for most of the labor.

Adjacent to the asphalted but short section of the Virginia Capital Trail, Chapel Island will at some point in 2013 have a companion trail directly adjacent to the river. It now attracts some runners, dog walkers and such, but this woodsy backyard of the island will soon be upgraded. It’s expected, says Nathan Burrell, the current manager of the parks, that the path will eventually continue its direct river line, past the a detention basin, now off limits behind a six foot chain link fence. This alternate path will connect to the small but very interesting, not to mention useful, 14th Street whitewater takeout. That little gem is known now, almost exclusively, to just waterborne river rats. But that may be changing.

Click here to learn how you can help.


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?