Warmer weather is upon us, and nobody is more excited than our canine friends. The Richmond staff kindly put together a list of their favorite hikes to take their dogs on. We hope that if you’re in the Richmond area, you and your dog can find some time to enjoy the outdoors, explore nature, and maybe take a dip in the James River. 


1. Belle Isle:

Belle Isle is a relatively easy and flat crushed gravel trail with great riverside views. There are two parking areas as options. Start on the south side of Belle Isle by parking at the Reedy Creek Parking Lot, or start on the north side of the River at the Belle Isle Parking lot and walk across the pedestrian suspension bridge to access Belle Isle, both providing a ~3.5-mile walk. Once on Belle Isle, a trail takes you around the island. Here you might even get a chance to see some boaters paddle through Hollywood rapid, one of the biggest rapids on the James!  Belle Isle once served as a prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War, so be sure to check out all of the interpretive signage along the way to learn more about the history of the area. Belle Isle is a popular destination among locals and tourists and can be crowded on a beautiful weekend. 

Difficulty Rating: Easy

Eddie, at three months old, enjoying the beautiful fall weather

2. Chimborazo Park:

Chimborazo is not only a beautiful park but also a historic land site. Created in 1874, the park was the site of one of the largest military hospitals. The park has plenty of land for walking, lounging, and even letting your dog off-leash- that’s right, this park is a leash-free area! Make sure to walk along the outside to see the view of the city as well as the miniature statue of liberty. If you’re looking for your dog to meet some other dog friends- the Church Hill dog park is at the bottom of the hill and a great place for dog mingling. 

Difficulty Rating: Easy

Eddie at nine months old now enjoying the Springtime in RVA

3. Powhite Park

Powhite Park is a hidden gem of a city park. Located on the southside of the city right off of Chippenham Parkway, this park provides a network of winding trails to give you anywhere from 1-4 miles of walking on dirt paths through a beautiful wooded area. Rarely crowded, this a great place to take your dog without worries of running into too many other trail users. You and your pup can park off of Janke Road in the parking lot or enter on the other side of the park, set back a little further from the highway on Greenvale Drive. 

Difficulty Rating: Moderate 

Pinecone leading the way!


4. Forest Hill

Located on the southside of the river, Forest Hill park provides a variety of hiking experiences for both the experienced hiker/doggie duo and beginners. Hop on the loop trail at one of the many access points to walk about 3 miles of well-marked singletrack trail. Hikers can deviate off-route and walk the paved paths up to a large grassy field to lounge in the shade of an old oak tree after your hike, or head down the paths to the lake at the center of the park for some excellent bird watching. This park is beautiful in every season!

Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Pinecone loves the water


5. Buttermilk Trail

Buttermilk Trail is the most challenging trail you can find in Richmond. It’s a 4.5-mile hike that can be completed as an out and back, or be connected to the Reedy Creek Access Road of crushed gravel to make a loop. This is a narrow, singletrack trail with lots of root and rock features, providing a bit of excitement to this multi-use trail! Watch out for other runners, bikers, and dogs, so always keep your eyes and ears open for other trail users who may ring a bell or say “biker/runner back” to let you know they are fast approaching.. Beware, after rainfall, the trail gets muddy! The general rule for Richmond trail users is to give them 24 hours to dry out after a big rainfall to avoid damaging the trails. Buttermilk trail is great for introducing your dog to a more technical trail while still providing ample creekside sniffing opportunities!

Fun fact: the trail is named after (not surprising) buttermilk! There is a well located on the side of the trail that used to store buttermilk for milkmen, back when milk was delivered to people’s homes. 

Difficulty Rating: Challenging

Olive is so photogenic!

As the weather warms up, we are excited to get outside and enjoy nature. If you’re looking for ways to get outside and involved with the Alliance, make sure to check out our upcoming events here. For other hiking inspiration, check out our recent blog, Girls Who Hike Virginia.