Monday, June 29, 2009

Buttermilk Spring Trail

Sunday was a pleasant but warm summer day, but I didn't want to drive a huge distance to hike. But just miles away, right in city limits, is a nice and semi-wild riverside park, the James River Park. It encompasses some islands, and different chunks of land along the James. I hiked the Buttermilk Trail, which has a four mile loop. Some of it is so narrow that you can hear the traffic on Riverside Drive. Other stretches feel so remote that you feel like you could be 50 miles from a city. And many parts of the trail go along the river. It was a very pleasant way to get some exercise and see some nice scenary without spending a fortune in gasoline.

Here are some photos of my hike:

Lots of the trail was very narrow, going through dense woods and understory.

Other parts were wide and level, like this stretch going along a side channel of the river.

Leaves of three, leave it be! Plenty of this bad boy in spots, and in narrow trail passages, it seemed almost impossible not to brush up against it.

A birch along the river channel.

As I crossed over on rocks to the 42nd Street Island to explore for a bit, this skink allowed me to get fairly close. Note the blue tail.

These rocks are coming off the 42nd Street Island. The James River is about a half mile wide at this point, with lots of rapids and rocks. It is un-navigable by anything larger than a canoe or kayak.

The water moves quickly and with such a pleasant sound through channels around the island.

After two miles of hiking, I reached the Boulevard Bridge, with the Carilon in the distance in Byrd Park. Plenty of times with Team in Training over the past four years have been spent crossing this bridge on foot. At this point, the trail doubled back to the start, with most of the two miles back on a parallel foot path, some of it going through woods so thick and remote that I ended up going in a circle for a little while.

Trumpet vine is so pretty. I wish there had been some hummingbirds here.

Pretty wildflowers near the end of the hike.


  1. Beautiful photos!!!!! Sounds lovely! I have never seen a skink.

  2. Such a pretty place to walk and a lot of variety.
    I love to listen to the water run down over rocks. It is so calming and a great stress reducer! Enjoyed looking at all the photos.

  3. Hi Anne - glad you liked this post. It was a nice hike for not a lot of driving. The skinks are common here but I think that they range up to Connecticut or so. I've always be fascinated by reptiles, and also amphibians. Happy Trails! Art

  4. Hi HappyOne. for being in a city you can't ask for a nicer hike. The James in an incredible natural resource, and is so varied. There are totally wild islands in the city limits that you can only boat (or swim) to, class 2, 3, 4, and even 5 rapids all over the place, and wildlife. I agree, the sound of running water is so soothing (unless it is running down your wall through a hole in the roof, not so soothing then, eh?) :) Art