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New “Co-Op Trail” Now Open at Pocahontas State Park

Andy Thompson

January 8, 2019 8:00am

Representatives from Virginia State Parks, REI and the Friends of Pocahontas cut the ribbon a week ago on the brand new, hiking-specific “Co-Op Trail.” Largely funded by a $20,000 grant from REI Richmond, along with a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy and $5,000 from Altria, the trail was built in response to public desire for more single-use trails.

The new Co-Op Trail trail marker at PSP.

Park Manager Josh Ellington explained: “Single use trails are a win-win. Hikers don’t have to worry about mountain bikers zipping by them, and bikers can ride freely without hikers on the trail.”

The Co-Op Trail contributes to the approximately 10 miles of hiking-only trails in the park — with more on the way.

Richmond REI Store Manager, Grant Smith, presented Friends of Pocahontas State Park member Jeff Samuels with a $20,000 check back on July 4 of this year for the kickoff of trail building. The trail’s name is a tip of the hat to REI, famously a consumer cooperative, and representative of how the trail came together and who it benefits — funded by multiple sponsors, built by volunteer labor, and a win-win for bikers and hikers alike.

Samuels, Director of Hiking Trails with the Friends of Pocahontas, expressed his gratitude to the volunteers, Virginia State Parks staff, and organized working groups from Altria who poured hours of labor into carving out the new trail that traverses the north shore of Swift Creek Lake and features wetlands, old growth forest and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.

Ellington who has been Park Manager at Pocahontas since 2015, has helped facilitate a dramatic increase in visitation through continued development of the park’s flourishing trail system including the mountain-biking specific Swift Creek Trail system, which formally opened in October. The park is renowned for some of the best mountain biking trails in the state.

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?