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The Virginia Capital Trail transports visitors through time as it travels nearly 52 miles between the state’s early capital at the Jamestown Settlement and its current capital city of Richmond, traversing lands first inhabited by the Powhatan, Chickahominy, and other Native Americans. Along the way, the smooth pathway follows Scenic Route 5, offering access to trailside businesses and views of historical sites, natural areas, rolling countryside, and the James River.
Construction of the trail began in 2005, and it was developed through a public/private partnership formed by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. Today, the route hosts approximately 1.2 million people per year, serving as a popular destination and generating millions of dollars for the region. Plans are underway for additional trail connections along the route.
The well-maintained trail is mostly paved, with some short wooden boardwalk sections and occasional road crossings, which are marked or signaled. It has seven main sections and is equipped with plenty of amenities, including restrooms, parking, and ample signage, making it easy for visitors to enjoy shorter trips or the trail in its entirety.
If your journey begins in Richmond, you’ll commence at Great Ship-lock Park, which features a restored lock on a canal that connected the James River with the docks in Richmond. With a rail line overhead and the river on your side, you’ll be guided by the sounds of the city as you travel the busiest section of the Richmond Riverfront segment of trail.
In the Varina segment, between mile markers 49 and 50, you will progress up the first and most significant hill—which rewards its conquerors with a sweeping view of Richmond and the James River—before continuing along the Osbourne Turnpike. At mile marker 48, the trail runs parallel to New Market Road and eventually comes to a signaled crossing of the Pocahontas Parkway.
Just before Doran Road, follow signs to Dorey Park. About 1 mile into the park segment, the trail briefly turns west onto the residential Kinvan Road before turning right into Dorey Park. (The next segment of the trail offers little shade, so you may want to refill your water supply here.) As the trail weaves through the park, enjoy the shaded paths and boardwalk. The trail continues under I-295 into Four Mile Creek Park, which has a bike repair station, parking, restrooms, benches, and the beloved “Big Bike” sculpture.
Leaving the park after mile marker 40, the trail reconnects with New Market Road in the vicinity of the Civil War’s Battle of New Market Heights, where African American soldiers made significant contributions to the Union victory. On your way to Herring Creek Trailhead at mile marker 27, you will pass by many fields and several former plantations, including Berkeley Plantation, birthplace of William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States.
Within the Charles City Courthouse segment, the trail will have two brief on-road sections: before and after the courthouse, where a parking area and restrooms are available. The trail transitions to the Sherwood Forest segment as it continues alongside the wooded John Tyler Memo-rial Parkway, named for the 10th US president, whose home, Sherwood Forest Plantation, is visible from the trail near mile marker 17.
As you approach mile marker 7, the trail crosses the Chickahominy River, for which this segment is named. Standing 50 feet above the river on the Judith Stewart Dresser Memorial Bridge, you will be treated to photo-worthy views of the sparkling waters. The bridge leads to Chickahominy Riverfront Park, which offers parking, restrooms, kayak rentals, campsites, and other attractions.
You will wind through the trail’s last few miles in the Greensprings segment, where you will find bike repair tools and exercise stations. At the trail’s eastern endpoint is the historic Jamestown Settlement, where parking and restrooms are available; museums and exhibits, including the Powhatan Indian Village, abound nearby. Those seeking refreshment and recreation can enjoy a brewery, beach, and marina.
Amenities for the various sections of the trail are available as follows:
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