8News Daytrippers: Morgan Dean dives into the James River Park System

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This week’s 8News Daytrippers featured a place you may drive by — or over — all the time, but you may not have made the time to visit.

Anchor Morgan Dean dove into the James River Park System for a look at all the cool adventures you can have in Downtown Richmond.

“James River Park System is a 600-acre natural area oasis right in the middle of our capital city,” Park Superintendent Nathan Burrell said.

It’s a place where you can choose your own adventure. Located along a seven-mile stretch of the James River between the Huguenot Bridge and the I-95 bridge, the park system is home to some great paddling spots including several class five rapids.

There are also more than 20-miles of trails for biking, hiking and exploring. Belle Isle and its pedestrian access bridge, along with the newly opened Tyler Potterfield Bridge, offer easier terrain for beginners.

Those craving a more strenuous and challenging ride can hit the Buttermilk or North Bank trails.

“The banks on the river are steeper or rockier,” Trails Manager Michael Burton said. “We are on the fall line, lots of rocks in this area. The trails in Richmond are awesome, especially to be in a downtown area.”

There’s also rock climbing and bird watching. But no matter where you go in the park, there’s something new at every turn.

“You’re in the middle of a city, but you don’t see a building,” Burrell adds.

Fall is a great time to be in the park with leaves about to put on their colorful show. But before then, you might want to grab your snorkel and mask (yes, a snorkel and mask) and hit the river at the 14th Street Pipeline.

“In August and the beginning of September, it’s excellent snorkeling — you’d never guess there’s a beach there,” Burrell said. “You can snorkel, sit on the edge of these huge pools; fish will come check you out — it’s amazing.”

The Friends of the James River Park Service’s website has links to several great maps showing you all the different trails for paddling, biking, climbing, birding and more.

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