James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 7.02'
Flow: 12500 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 10:06am
Low Tide: 4:42am

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Va. Capital Trail: ‘It’s a Place to Exhale’

Andy Thompson

September 30, 2015 2:54pm

I spent a good part of yesterday morning on an old school bus, chugging down Route 5 next to the brand spanking new Virginia Capital Trail. I was part of a media contingent brought together by Beth Weisbrod, head of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, to see the finished product and ask questions of those along the way who have a vested interest in its success.

We started at Great Shiplock Park in Richmond, stopped at Rocketts Landing, then went out to Ronnie’s Barbecue in Varina and on to Henrico County’s new trailhead just past I-295 at Four Mile Creek Park. Weisbrod and VCTF board chair Charlie Donato led the way, giving us the history of the trail and telling us about the series of parties that will take place this coming Saturday up and down the trail’s length to commemorate its completion. We met Rocketts residents who are already seeing the quality of life benefits and a Stone Brewing spokesperson who told us how excited Stone is to have the trail so close to its East Coast operations. We met Ronnie and Darrell Logan, of Ronnie’s BBQ, who have seen an uptick in traffic since moving to their location right on the trail in Varina in May (“It’s a place to exhale,” said Ronnie). And we met Henrico Co. officials who spoke about the linkages the trail provides between communities and the future plans they have for the path.

It’s was an interesting morning, but what I really wanted was to get on the trail with my own two wheels. So later yesterday afternoon, despite the impending rain, I hopped on the mountain bike with a friend, Dave Salley, and we pointed our wheels in the direction of the trail. It started raining around Brown’s Island and by the time we reached the trail’s beginning at the Floodwall across from Bottom’s Up Pizza, we were soaked.

But it was also nice. We had this gorgeous ribbon of freshly paved asphalt all to ourselves. We rode to Ronnie’s before turning around, a round trip of about 12 miles. (Then we rode up Libby Hill, 23rd St. and Governor’s St. because…you know.) There’s just something about looking down a path like that and thinking, “If I felt like it, I could ride all the way to Jamestown.”

After 10 years and $74 million, the Virginia Capital Trail is finally here, Richmond, and let me say, it is awesome. I know the weather looks horrendous, but there’s an official ribbon cutting at Great Shiplock Park on Friday (the governor will keynote) and a big old party the following day. Click here for those details. If riding in the rain isn’t your thing, I get it. But whenever this rain breaks, get out there and check out the trail. Like those bike races that just left town, it’ll make you excited to see what we can accomplish when we really want to.

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?