Monday, October 29—Virginia Capital Trail

After a weekend birthday celebration (Nan’s 70th birthday), George and I shuttled to just south of Richmond to Four Mile Creek Park to ride the paved Virginia Capital Trail. Four Mile Creek Park trailhead, near the Varina community (Varina Farms was a plantation established by early English settler John Rolfe, who married the famed Pocahontas), was chosen to avoid the many traffic signals and busy intersections in Richmond, and effectively eliminated 12 miles of the 52-mile trail. The Virginia Capital Trail snakes along the James River and State Route 5, a Virginia Scenic Byway, for 52 paved miles from the state’s capital of Richmond to the historic capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg. The trail is not built on a former railroad, but the half-mile segment in downtown Richmond is rail-with-trail, hence its rail-trail designation. The trail is “divided” into several segments.

The first we rode was the New Market Heights Segment. This segment runs near the Shirley Plantation, where the mother of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was born. Dating back to 1613, it’s the oldest plantation in Virginia and a National Historic Landmark. 

Trailside Signage for Shirley Plantation
Trailside Decor

We continued east to the Charles City County segment which passes many colonial plantation homes, including the Berkeley Plantation. It’s the ancestral home of U.S. Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. 

Berkeley Plantation Entrance

Continuing south, we arrived at the Charles City County Courthouse (a bathroom and rest stop), a one-story brick building dating back to 1730 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This began the trail’s Sherwood Forest segment along SR 5, passing the Sherwood Forest Plantation for which it is named. President John Tyler lived in the estate in the mid-1800s (the Tyler family still owns the home).

Charles City County Courthouse Monument to the Confederacy

Entering the Chickahominy Riverfron segment, we crossed the Chickahominy River on the Judith Stewart Dresser Bridge on a 10-foot wide path separated from traffic by a divider where we had panoramic views of the the James and Chickahominy Rivers.

Crossing the Chickahominy River

The southern end of the trail is known as the Greensprings segment, passes Revolutionary War battlegrounds and a 40-acre wooded wetland and wildlife area along the way, and ends near the Jamestown Settlement. We arrived at Jamestown about an hour ahead of our shuttle (Kay and Nan), tired but elated at having pedaled the Virginia Capital Trail.

One of many Wetlands along the trail
Jamestown, End of the Trail

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