RICHMOND, Va. — If you are like me, you are always looking for something fun to do with the kids on weekends. Now that the weather has warmed up, it is the perfect time to take advantage of all that Mother Nature has to offer Virginia families.
Virginia is home to numerous hiking trails, some of which are perfect for families.
Scroll down for a list (and links) to some of the area’s best family-friendly hikes. Information about the hikes was provided by the agencies and people who manage the parks.
Dorey Park 2999 Darbytown Road, Henrico, Va., 23231
Dorey Park includes a large pond with walking trail, meandering walkways through the woods, a playgrounds, and open space as well as a gazebo and picnic shelters. Dorey Park also has an off-leash dog park, 1 acre in size, with 5 foot enclosed fence with two areas – one for small dogs and the other for larger dogs. A connector trail to the Virginia Capital Trail is being added in May, expanding the options for a walk or bike ride!
Three Lakes Park & Nature Center 400 Sausiluta Dr, Richmond, Va., 23227
This park offers several trails for families to explore the three lakes. Guests can enjoy the large playground, enjoy a picnic on the grounds or in a shelter, and take a tour of the nature center.
The Nature Center is a 6,500 square foot facility featuring a variety of exhibits designed to provide hands-on experiences. The 50,000 gallon aquarium also gives visitors a “fish-eye” view of the underwater world. The exhibits in the Nature Center will introduce visitors to the plant and animal life native to the area and wildlife living in the wetlands and woodlands of the park. By providing an assortment of live exhibits, dioramas, and interactive displays, the Nature Center offers something for every field of natural interest and is appropriate for all ages.
Deep Run Park 9900 Ridgefield Parkway, Henrico, Va., 23233
Deep Run Park has a variety of trails, from a walk in the woods to paved trails, and even an exercise trail for an extra workout. The park includes ponds, walkways, multiple playgrounds, and open space as well as a gazebo.
Dutch Gap Conservation Area 411 Coxendale Road, Chester, Va., 23836
The Dutch Gap Conservation Area is one of the best family hikes (and bike trip) if you like scenery, wildlife and a bit of history.
Families can bike or hike the Dutch Gap Trail that starts next to the Henricus Visitor Center.
For a short hike, follow the trail to the Peninsula which is an easy 2-mile hike/bike.
Along the way, visitors can fish from a dock or spy turtles basking around the fresh water pond (at 0.5 mile), check out the remains of sunken wooden barges at Horsetail dock (at 1.1 miles) and observe the osprey nest while eating lunch at the Peninsula (at 2.0 miles).
White trail at Robious Landing Park 3800 James River Road Midlothian, Va., 23113
In northern Chesterfield, families can hike the white trail at Robious_Landing_Park. It runs along the James River, crosses small cobblestone streams, roams through floodplains of stately sycamore trees and nestles up to a swamp. The hike is just 1.5 miles.
Pocahontas State Park 10301 State Park Road, Chesterfield, Va., 23832-6355
Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, has a nature center, and many easy trails.
In all our state parks, we also have the Virginia State Parks Trail Quest Program, where people can receive special pins for hiking a certain number of parks. Park Packs, available to checkout for free, which include binoculars, guide books, story books, birdsong players, and more.
For a whole list of a bunch of stuff for kids and families to do in State Parks, click here.
Forest Hill Park 4021 Forest Hill Ave, Richmond, Va., 23225
A nice three-mile loop around the park with plenty of parking in the lot off 42nd St. Though technically not part of the James River Park System, it is typically less crowded than the main JRPS trails.
Dogwood Dell Hiking Trail 6000 S Boulevard, Richmond, Va., 23220
This is a one-mile trail that is not open to bikes. It runs from Pump House Drive up to the Carillion. Very nice and relatively lightly-used, and again ample parking at the Carillon lot.
Chapel Island 111 Pear Street, Richmond, Va., 23223
Across the canal from Great Shiplock Park and in close proximity to the Capital Trail. Again, relatively lightly-used, so more family-friendly than others.
James River Park System main trails
The Buttermilk, North Bank, and Belle Isle trails are also quite family-friendly. However these trails are very heavily-used by hikers, runners and cyclists, so families with kids may be better off on the lesser-traveled trails mentioned above.
Do you have a family-friendly hike not mentioned above? If so, leave your suggestions in the comments below.