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Buttermilk Trail



3.3 mile 5.3 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 190' 58 m
Descent: -341' -104 m
High: 207' 63 m
Low: 47' 14 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)


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Trail shared by Rachel Bauman

This trail offers a little break from the city just across the the river from downtown Richmond.

Rachel Bauman

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views

The park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. If dogs are not well trained please keep them leashed, a runner or biker tripping or falling due over your pet could be dangerous for both the runner/biker and for your dog. Please be aware of others utilizing the trail.

Runner Notes

This trail offers great hills and obstacles, but be careful on rocks. I pulled a toe stepping on a tiny stone in vibram five finger shoes, so use caution. In wet weather DO NOT use biking ramp. As always run to your ability. In summer time keep an eye out for copperheads.


There are a few entrances to this trail, one at 21st Street, another is located at the Reedy Creek canoe launch area, and the last can be accessed from the Nickel Bridge.

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.

Flora & Fauna

This trail is beautiful, especially in summer and fall. There are plenty of wildflowers and flowering trees. However, watch for poison ivy and those with allergies may need to bring an inhaler if allergic to pollen as the allergens can get bad. In summertime, please keep an eye out for copperhead snakes!

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Apr 27, 2017
Sarah Heller

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in Virginia


155 Views Last Month
3,933 Since Nov 30, 2015



Me and my pup, on a recent outing to run the buttermilk trail. This photo was taken by the 21st St. entrance.
Jan 12, 2016 near Richmond, VA
View from 21st St. entrance to Buttermilk Trail.  Also access to towpath by the James River and bridge to Belle Isle.
Jan 12, 2016 near Richmond, VA
Buttermilk Trail
Aug 24, 2019 near Richmond, VA

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