It’s always a challenge when you know you should get out on a run, but you’re tired and the weather isn’t great.
And, to top it off, you have no new routes planned and the mundane repetitiveness of your usual running trails is killing your dwindling motivation. Therefore, it’s hard to get up and go.
Finding good running trails is a beautiful thing. It turns the somewhat lung burning experience of running into a wonderful adventure that distracts you, whilst taking in some new terrain and, hopefully, beautiful scenery.
In this article, we will look at some of the best running trails in Richmond, Virginia.
Richmond is the capital city of Virginia. It has become a very popular running spot with many running trails to choose from. Richmond has a booming economy and is thriving in the finance world as well as law and government.
The great thing about running in Richmond is the atmosphere that surrounds you. Many spots take you alongside the James River Waterfront park with many wonders to see along the way, including Belle Isle.
There are many routes that take in the beautiful area of the city with the university campus of Richmond. There are many beautiful parks and lakes too.
James River Park Trails & Belle Isle
This trail has options of a 10 mile, 4.6 mile, and a 2.3 run ranging between 200-625 feet of elevation.
This part of Richmond has over 560 acres that take you along the waterfront, providing endless beautiful running opportunities. The surface is mainly gravel, but routes take you through wooded areas and waterfront locations.
The classic and most popular route is just over 5 miles, and it takes in Belle Isle. This is a truly beautiful run in Richmond and one of many people’s favorites. There is a quieter option if you are looking for a more secluded experience, however.
It starts at Pony Pasture Trail and takes you along the west riverside to Hugenot Flatwater. This is a beautiful variety for those looking for the less populated running experience.
This option is short but sweet, at only 1.25 miles in distance, point to point, which is 2.5 as an out and back run. Moreover, this is a highly regarded short running trail that is a must-do for any runner in the area.
If you want to run further, it’s a good idea to link in with the James River trail. The surface is concrete and has many beautiful murals and pieces of Richmond history scattered throughout.
It’s a beautiful run with lovely views of the canal, old bridges and architecture dating back many years.
This run is a total of 2.5 miles with quite a few beautiful add on options. There is also virtually no elevation gain at 75 feet in total. This run can be found at the south end of any block between the 5th and 17th streets.
Riverside Drive Neighborhood
This is a beautiful running trail. Many beautiful historic sites to see along the way. This run is located on the south side of the James River. This trail goes for 2 miles between Belle Isle and Boulevard Toll Bridge.
The route has some hills so be prepared to do some climbing and get the lungs burning! It’s a 2-mile run one way which can be made into a 4-mile out and back run. The entire trail also has an elevation of 120 feet or 240 feet.
This run can be linked in with other popular trails to add distance to your run. Be aware of occasional traffic on these routes, though. Oh, and another warning – occasionally, the pavement disappears so be aware.
Virginia Capital Trail
This trail is one for the ultra-distance runners, over 50 miles in distance covering an amazing array of beautiful scenery. This route takes in some solid hills which will sting the legs.
The route offers diverse terrain for all kinds of training and really is one for ultra-distance lovers.
There are plenty of historic visuals all along the route for you to enjoy, through a mixture of woodland, fields, and river trails. This route is obviously very flexible with length as you can choose how far you want to run.
With many rolling hills, it’s certainly not one for the faint of heart.
Monument Ave & Capitol Complex
If you are a runner that enjoys running through the city streets, then this will be a great choice for you. This run takes in many of the city’s most famous monuments and statues. It starts at the Robert E. Lee memorial.
From here, it heads out for 1.6 miles past many of the city’s monuments to Confederate Civil War veterans such as J.E.B Stuart. At the end of the line is a statue of tennis star Arthur Ashe.
If you run this route out and back, it’s approximately 3 miles. If you combine the Monument Avenue route and the Capitol to Robert E Lee memorial then it’s a 7-mile out and back run.
With a moderate amount of undulation, there are a few rises to test the legs with a total of 108 feet of elevation.
Maymont Park And Byrd Park
This is a beautiful rural area in Richmond, with lovely park terrain and lakeside views. This is an old Victorian estate with amazingly kept gardens full of wildlife and flowers.
Although this park may look beautiful and calm, it is a challenging running location with some stinging hills for good measure.
Their most popular route is following the paved road around the entire estate totalling about 3.2 miles in distance. However, there are options to extend by crossing onto different paths including Byrd Park and North Bank Trail.
With a challenging 230 feet in elevation, this is a great route for many keen runners looking to run in some beautifully kept gardens abundant with wildlife.
This is a very historical park in Richmond. This was the old site of the Gabriels Rebellion slave insurrection. Now it is a large beautiful commemoration with luscious gardens and wildlife.
This is a very popular spot for runners, bird watchers, and cyclists. This location has an endless mixture of paved and off-road trails to keep you entertained.
The paved route that takes in beautiful ponds, forestry, fields and gorgeous gardens totals to around 3.5 miles.
If you want to add on some off-road running then you can take in the single track along Jordan’s Branch. Taking in 130 feet of elevation, there are certainly some challenging little hills to wake the legs up.
University Of Richmond Campus & Westhampton Lake
This is a great route to take if you want to combine it with exploring the Richmond University campus. As you’d imagine, its classic camp is rich with brick buildings, perfectly kept gardens and courtyards with Westhampton Lake in the center.
It truly is a visual delight.
If you link the Blue, Red, and Gold campus routes, you can rack up a 1-mile loop. Most of the routes you find here are paved, but there are some exceptions if you head off down the Red wooded trail which provides more slightly challenging conditions underfoot.
With a total of 135 feet of elevation, depending on what add-ons you include, this is a great must-do run if you are in the area.
Richmond is a city rich in history and spectacular sites to see. It offers a diverse range of trails for all kinds of runners. From atmospheric city runs to secluded scenic runs abundant with wildlife.
There is something for everyone. With many short loops for those looking for their quick endorphin fix, to ultra-marathon trails taking in endless sites to stimulate the senses.
If you are in the Richmond area, you must head out and explore the running possibilities that are on offer.