ElevationAscent: 190' 58 m
Descent: -341' -104 m
High: 207' 63 m
Low: 47' 14 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)
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“This trail offers a little break from the city just across the the river from downtown Richmond.”— Rachel Bauman
Starting at 21st St. the Buttermilk Trail is to your left. It descends for about .2 miles to another parking lot. Less dexterous visitors may choose to go back across 21st St. bridge to the towpath which is flat and obstacle-free if this trail is looking too rough at this point.
Cross the second parking lot entrance. You'll see the trail ascend and cross a small creek. In another .2 miles or so, the trail descends again, on your right will be a small side trail; you can take this trail to avoid a steeper descent up ahead. (Note: this trail is used heavily by mountain bikers. Make sure to keep an eye and ear out for bikes. Most cyclists that see you'll alert you to their presence by saying "rider up" and tell you if they have people biking with them "2 more behind" or "just me" if on a solo ride.)
If you use the side trail, bear right when you meet up with the main trail. You'll pass a rocky part and then head into a new area that has fewer obstacles and two new wooden bridges. A little ways down, the trail forks, if you go right you'll stay on the trail. The left fork crosses Riverside Drive to Forrest Hill Park.
Bear right to cross a bridge and continue on to Reedy Creek parking lot. Crossing the lot, you'll enter a more difficult part of the trail. Again be aware of other users as this trail curves and there are quite a few hills that make visibility more difficult.
About a quarter mile from Reedy Creek, you'll encounter stairs and a ramp for bikers. In wet or icy conditions DO NOT use the ramp. I have the bruises to prove what a bad idea this is, even in a drizzle. You pass three creeks on this part of the trail, in addition there are plenty of root obstacles and hills for those trying out a weighted down pack or trail runners looking for a challenge.
The last part of this trail ascends some switchbacks and crosses four more bridges (if you're tired, I like to stretch on the third switchback before a final push up the hill). At the top of the hill, look right to see the Carillon Tower across the river. The trail forks at top of hill; take the left fork to Nickel Bridge or bear right under the bridge (hazardous rocks, be careful!) then follow the trail to reach the left side of Nickel Bridge.
Cross the bridge to reach parking lots at Dogwood Dell and Byrd Park.
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Land Manager: City of Richmond, VA - Parks and Recreation