River Walk Trail
ElevationAscent: 212' 65 m
Descent: -99' -30 m
High: 952' 290 m
Low: 823' 251 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 10% (6°)
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“A meandering there-and-back along the Roanoke River that connects to two other trails in the park.”— Helen White
Deer Run Trail (which branches off River Walk) has a blaze that is also blue, but "a much darker blue." It curves up a hill, so it should be clear that it is different. Deer Run is quite rugged.
Do be aware that some construction will be happening between 2018 and 2019, and keep an ear out for oncoming diggers and steamrollers. They move slowly and are hard to miss.
Bring bug spray if gnats bug you - I forgot it, and there were a couple points where I wish I had some.
Second thing to note is that the lot is relatively small. I recommend either carpooling or, if this lot is full, parking at one of the other lots by Old Salem Turnpike trail, which connects to (and overlaps with) this trail for a little while. Those lots are also free!
This trail feels a bit less managed than some of the others in this park. First, you're following the blue blazes but occasionally, you'll see a red blaze, suggesting that perhaps they changed the color at one point. The first quarter or so of the trail is a bit narrow and brushy, so be prepared to duck under a branch or two. You'll parallel the river the whole way, and all along the route are rough dirt access points if you'd like to go fishing.
You'll also see signs advertising the renovations they're doing (particularly along the waterway) as part of the Adventure Plan. The park and the trails are all still open, but be aware that there might be the occasional construction vehicle trundling along on its way to shoring up part of the trail. If you're local and interested in what they've got planned, you can find out more about on their website.
After that initial brushy section, though, the trail opens up to a more comfortable width with a relatively flat trail. There are multiple access points to the Historic Area if you're interested in exploring more. Further along, where you overlap with Old Salem Turnpike (red blazes), the trail is quite wide and flat, with packed gravel. If you'd like to enter and exit at this point, do note that the OST trail near this point does have a pretty long and steep road up to the parking lot, but it is paved and easy to navigate.
Keep going toward the end and you'll pass the trailhead for the Deer Run Trail, which itself has the trailhead for the Turkey Scratch Loop and the Palmer's Pond connector back to Old Salem Turnpike.
In addition to listening to the river, you'll probably hear a train passing across the water!
If you're into fishing, there are plenty of places to pull off the trail and throw a line in the water. Keep an ear out for squirrels, deer, and wild turkeys.
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Land Manager: Roanoke City Parks and Recreation