12 Amazing Hikes In & Around Richmond, Virginia

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond

If you’re a fan of hiking, Richmond is the perfect place for you to find something to satisfy those outdoor cravings. With incredible scenic trails perfect for biking, hiking, and running, you will truly be spoilt for choice with what this city can offer you. 

As the capital of Virginia, Richmond is surrounded by beautiful scenery and the city itself runs deep with American history. What better way to explore both of these things than by planning a fun outdoor adventure?

We’ve put together 12 of the most breathtaking hikes near Richmond for you to enjoy. No matter what your hiking experience may be, we’ve got you covered with these easy, intermediate, and difficult trails suggestions. 

Dust off your hiking boots and get your compasses at the ready because these trails will most definitely leave you looking for your next outdoor experience. 

Easy Hikes Near Richmond

North Bank Trail

Location:

James River Park

Distance:

2.7 miles

Type Of Trail:

Out & Back

If you enjoy taking your pet pooch on your hike with you, the North Bank Trail is a great place to go. Accessible year-round, this trail is relatively easy with just a few rocky areas to it. 

It’s a perfect option for families, those wanting a stroll to take in the views, or those who are keen bird watchers. As it’s an incredibly popular route, you will likely cross paths with fellow hikers and for this reason, your dog must be kept on a leash at all times.

But as the trail is close to Texas Beach, you can reward yourself and your dog with a lovely splash around at the end of the hike. 

With fantastic views of the city as well as the James River and Kanawha Canal, it’s easy to see why this hike is such a popular choice for so many people.

Mountain bikers have also been known to regularly enjoy the route, however, it can be steep at certain points, so bear this in mind if you are planning a bike trip. 

As mentioned, it can be rocky in some parts so make sure you wear the correct footwear to prevent any trips or falls.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Forest Hill Park Trail

Location:

Forest Hill Park

Distance:

2.7 miles

Type Of Trail:

Loop

If you head for Forest Hill Park, you’ll come across waterfalls, forests, boardwalks, and lakes, all of which offer stunning views across the park. 

This trail is known for being shady so you’ll have no problem hiding from the sun on a summer’s day. Popular with mountain bikers, it’s good to note that this particular trail isn’t very wide, so you may encounter some heavy traffic.

This loop trail allows dogs, so it’s a perfect choice for pet owners, but due to its popularity, they must be kept on a leash at all times. 

Even though this trail is classed as being ‘easy’ if you’re not an experienced hiker you may find it quite a challenge.

For more experienced hikers, there is some elevation gain for you to enjoy but the majority of this trail is flat, making it a great choice for families with young children.

On this hike, you may encounter roots, rocks, and other obstacles which have the potential to cause injuries, so ensure you have the correct clothing, footwear, and equipment.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Stony Man Trail

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

1.6 miles

Type Of Trail:

Loop

This short, easy hike provides you with some of the best views you can get of the Shenandoah National Park. As it is the second-highest peak in the park, it’s also a perfect spot to watch a gorgeous sunset. 

With this trail, dogs are not permitted, however, there will still be plenty of other animals to keep an eye out for. Birds that you may spot include the common raven, black-and-white and hooded warblers, red-eyed and blue-headed vireos, scarlet tanager, dark-eyed junco, and eastern towhee.

If that wasn’t enough, you may also find yourself spotting some white-tailed deer and the occasional timber rattlesnake. 

Popular with families, it’s good to keep in mind that the final viewpoint is a rock outcrop. If these rocks are wet, they can sometimes be a hazard, so keep your little ones close by when you reach this point.

Open year-round, this trail is best enjoyed from April to September. However, depending on weather conditions in the winter, the trail can sometimes close so always check ahead of your trip.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Pony Pasture Rapids Trail

Location:

James River Park

Distance:

2.1 miles

Type Of Trail:

Loop

In the mid-1960s, this area was a pony sanctuary and today, it is one of the most unique and scenic areas you can explore in Richmond.

Part of the James River Trail System, this route is open year-round to all levels of hikers and the famous rapids pull in the crowds year after year. 

Dogs are welcomed on this trail but must remain on a leash at all times as it’s heavily trafficked – almost a quarter of a million visitors annually! With this many visitors, side trails have been created, so it’s a good idea to plan your route ahead of your hike.

The 2.1 miles of terrain is fairly flat and perfect for those with young families. It offers a more secluded and sheltered trail than others and provides you with some of the best views of the James River you will come across.

On hot summer days, this route offers you all you could ever want; a shady trail followed by a calm section of the James River where you can rest on the large rocks and soak up your surroundings. 

Moderate Hikes Near Richmond

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Buttermilk Trail

Location:

James River Park

Distance:

4.5 miles

Type Of Trail:

Out & Back

During the summer and fall months, this trail offers a little escape from the city with its wildflowers and flowering trees, and a gorgeous view of the James River. 

It’s accessible year-round and offers a moderate level of difficulty so it is perfect for those with previous hiking experience.

This route is also dog friendly which is great for pet owners, but they have to remain on a lead if they are not well trained. Mountain bikers also use this route, so if you are letting your pup off the lead, bear this in mind. 

As mentioned, this route is classed as moderate which makes it a great choice for families with older children.

If you have younger children that you want to bring on the hike, they may struggle with the tight, twisty, fast descents and steep climbs of this trail.

This trail is very shaded making it a perfect option during the hot summer months. However, during any heavy rainfall periods, this route has a reputation for being muddy, so if you’re tackling it after some bad weather, expect to get dirty.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Chimborazo Park Trail

Location:

Chimborazo Park

Distance:

0.9 miles

Type Of Trail:

Loop

The nearly one-mile-long trail is lined with Virginia wildflowers making this site colorful and vibrant in the summer months. It’s a popular hiking spot, but not too busy that you won’t be able to enjoy your time there as it boasts a lot of open space.

This trail is also dog-friendly but your pup will have to remain on a leash. However, at the end of the hill, there is an off-leash dog park that they can enjoy.

Even though it’s considered a moderate trail in terms of difficulty, people of all skill levels can enjoy this short looped route.

The locals tend to park their car at the top of the hill, which is known to make this walk a little easier – something to keep in mind if you’re heading this way.

Along this trail, you’ll be able to enjoy gorgeous views of the bend in the James River as well as older fountains and monuments dotted throughout the park.

Nearby there is a Battlefield Museum for you to find out more about the history of the area, and if you time your walk perfectly, you can catch a tremendous sunset over the Virginia capital from the top end of the trail.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond, VA for all levels

Beaver Lake Trail

Location:

Pocahontas State Park

Distance:

Loop 

Type Of Trail:

2.3 miles

This shaded route is perfect for hikers hunting for a trail with beautiful changing scenery and mild terrain.

Along the trail, you will come across benches every half mile or so offering you the perfect opportunity to pause and rest and take in the nature around you, particularly the views across the lake which is dotted with green lily pads. 

This trail is dog friendly and relatively shady so it’s perfect for your pet, even on a hot day, however, they must remain on their leash.

Bikes are not permitted on this trail so the only thing you’ll need to keep an eye out for is overgrown areas of bushes.

The most prominent feature in Pocahontas State Park is the dam which has a waterfall cascading into it and provides you with a perfect backdrop to your hike.  

You’ll find the terrain is mostly dirt and gravel trails with bridges and wooden boardwalks, and in total it should take you around 1.5-2 hours to complete, depending on your pace.

The best time to visit this trail is from March to November when the park comes alive with color and vibrancy.

Fendley Station Trail
Source: Alltrails

Fendley Station Trail

Location:

Pocahontas State Park

Distance:

17.3 miles

Type Of Trail:

Loop

As picturesque as it may be, Fendley Station Trail is not for the faint of heart. It’s long and quite challenging to those new to hiking, so if you’re visiting be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy levels high. 

Throughout the route, you may come across a wide variety of birds and possibly even one or two horses out on their daily treks.

This trail also allows you to bring your dog but it must be kept on a leash at all times. 

The terrain varies throughout the looped route and even provides you with a river crossing halfway through.

During the summer months, you can easily cross this river thanks to some large stepping stones, but during heavy rainfall, this river is prone to overflowing and washing out the trail so be prepared to get a little wet if that’s when you’re visiting.

As this trail can get muddy, wearing the right footwear and clothing is a must to prevent any injuries from happening, but trekking through the mud is worth it for the views you’ll get.

Difficult Hikes Near Richmond

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond,VA for All levels

Old Rag Mountain Trail

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

8 miles

Type Of Trail:

Out & Back

This trail offers you phenomenal 360-degree views over the Shenandoah National Park and is considered one of the park’s most popular trails.

Pets aren’t allowed on this route, and due to the difficulty of this course, it’s not considered ideal for younger children.

To reach the summit, you will have to climb up, on, and over boulders (roughly one mile in total) which will require a lot of effort. Even though climbing them is fun, doing so is considered the most difficult part of this course. 

Most of the trail is comprised of straight paths and switchbacks which offer a welcomed break from the rocky terrain, but with an elevation gain of 2,500ft, this trail will challenge even the most experienced hikers.

As this course is so demanding, having the correct footwear and equipment is essential if you want to enjoy your hike.

With a lot of search and rescue missions taking place on this course each year, doing your research beforehand is imperative. 

Plenty of water and snacks will help get you through this trail, so make sure you pack well before your hike.

Devil’s Marbleyard Trail

Location:

Natural Bridge Station

Distance:

3.2 miles

Type Of Trail:

Out & Back

This trail is full of rocky terrain with some boulders nearing the size of cars. But once you’ve scrambled your way to the top, the panoramic views you are presented with are worth the rocky climb.

For this hike, you will need focus, strategy, and resilience if you’re going to make it to the summit.

The fairly steep, rocky slope will keep you on your toes (quite literally) and you will need to plan 2 or 3 steps in advance to make it across the rocky scrambles which cover this hike.

The trail is most definitely a challenge and therefore suited to the more experienced hiker. 

If the boulders are too much of a challenge on the hike back down the mountain, you can always choose the leaf-laden ravine that runs alongside Devil’s Marbleyard and offers more of a shaded trail. 

As this hike consists of dirt and rock trails and rock scrambles, it’s not ideal for pets or young children. But if you are tackling this route, definitely bring a friend along to help you navigate the tricky terrain.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

9.5 miles

Type Of Trail:

Out & Back

This trail is perfect for those wanting a challenge but also an adventure. Primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and horse riding, the best time to experience this trail is from March until November. 

Packed with a total of 8 waterfalls each varying in size and strength, this trail offers breathtaking views and perfect photo backdrops and opportunities.

With swimming holes at the bottom of each waterfall, you can take a refreshing dip during those hot summer months and enjoy a picnic to keep your energy high for the remainder of the hike. 

Dogs are also allowed on this trail as long as they are kept on a leash and smaller children may also enjoy this hike, other than the steepness in some areas.

However, most of the hike is adjacent to the river so this hike can be relaxing depending on your chosen pace.

This trail is extremely busy during the spring and fall seasons so expect to run into other hikers on your route.

12 Breathtaking Hikes Near Richmond,VA for All levels

Bearfence Mountain Trail

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

1 mile

Type:

Loop

This incredibly popular trail is perfect for those who enjoy bird watching while embracing a challenging hike. Thanks to the gorgeous wildflowers that decorate this route and the views throughout, you’ll feel truly lost in the beauty of nature.

Best experienced from April until October, this short loop trail provides you with breathtaking 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains – perfect for catching the sunrise or sunset or even both. 

Due to a small rocky scramble at the top of the hike, pets are not allowed on this trail and small children may find this part of the route difficult to navigate.

Also, if you are scared of heights, it’s probably best to avoid this trail as there is some exposure close to the summit. 

Even though this hike is short, it is by no means easy. The steep climb will see you using both your feet and hands to scramble to the summit and is a perfect challenge for experienced hikers, but that view at the top makes it all the more worthwhile.

Emily Winters