James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 4.60'
Flow: 3650 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 5:06am
Low Tide: 12:18pm

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The Trails of the Nickel Bridge (Southside): Trail Dog Heaven

Veronica Reddic

January 28, 2016 9:03pm

Hello outdoor enthusiasts, I am back with another secret (but, really, not so secret) set of spots to share with you guys. Today’s secret spots to take your dog are the Buttermilk (West) Trail and the Main Trail off the Boulevard (Nickel) Bridge. This is such a wonderful and peaceful area to take your pup and hang out at the river. I first went here during the season of river goers and there was hardly any foot traffic in the area during my midday visit.


Pump House Park is another great not so secret spot to take a dog. Credit: Veronica Reddic

To get to the trails, park on Riverside Drive in Westover Hills (south side of Nickel Bridge) near where it runs into Westover Hills Boulevard. From that intersection, head down toward the bridge and you’ll see the trailhead on your left. There’s a great kiosk here were very accurate signage. Definitely check that out before you head into the trail. Follow the singletrack for a few feet until your reach your first fork. There are two ways down, the more simple way goes off to the left, the steep way goes off to the right.

Either way, you’ll make your way down the path and run into another fork. The right trail will lead you down to the tracks towards the river and the Main Trail that leads towards Reedy Creek. This area just across the tracks offers a nice hangout spot to relax in shallow waters. There are parts of the area that can be a bit risky due to some high currents since there is a pipeline under the water. This location would be best for a dog that is a strong swimmer, but it’s also good for those who like to get their paws wet in the shallow areas. The beach is mainly a mixture of rocks, sand and pebbles so barefoot action is possible and the water is nice and clear in the shallows so you can see where you’re stepping.

The trail continues to the right and will lead you all the way towards Reedy Creek and Belle Isle. There are several more river access spots along the way and also a few rock-hopping locations that are always a hit with those pups that have a knack for it.

Now the second trail option that you run into, which forks off to the left will have you following the tracks going upriver. The Trail is called Buttermilk West. It’s a beautiful trail to hike; it leads under the tall cliffs of the Westover Hill area, where you’ll see beautiful homes situated on top of those magnificent rock walls. The trail goes a pretty good distance, and there will be several other trails that split off and take you across the tracks to nice river access areas. The area gets very, very muddy, especially after a good rain, so bring some shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. This is a very secluded and large area with loads of sticks to throw in the water for your pup to chase after.

Since I’m not sure how busy this part of the area gets during the warmer months, I’d suggest going during the morning to separate yourself from any increased foot traffic during the afternoon hours.

Both locations are a real hit to my dogs, especially the ones that don’t mind the mud. I advise bringing a few towels if you have a mud lover. These spots will definitely offer a day full of fun and give you a great hiking experience.

About Veronica Reddic

I am a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and I moved here for work. All I want to do is work with animals. I've worked with dogs and cats for five years at different dog kennels and volunteered at the city humane society in St. Louis. My goal in life is to work with marine mammals in settings that are educational to allow people to get a better understanding of the wonderful creatures that call our waters home. Outside of getting pups a fantastic workout for Canine Adventure, I work part time at Maymont Parks as an animal keeper in the Children's Farm. I hope to give dogs a great time outside of home and give them new experiences and great adventures.