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History of the Capital Trail

The Virginia Capital Trail was the result of a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. Founded in 2004, the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation’s mission is to enhance, promote, and advocate for the continued development of the trail. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation promotes the trail regionally, at the state level, and at the national level, through partnerships and larger trail affiliations. Additionally, the Foundation is also responsible for making experiencing the trail a safe, educational, and unforgettable experience for users by supplying signs, trailheads, benches, as well as many more amenities.

The Virginia Capital Trail, located along the route 5 corridor, spans a range of fifty-two miles, connecting Virginia’s current capital of Richmond to its former, Jamestown. Construction of the trail began in 2005, and concluded nearly a decade later.  

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The Greenspring phase of the trail was opened in 2006. This phase consists of a 2.8 mile stretch of trail that begins near Colonial Parkway near Jamestown, ending at Jamestown High School.  

The Chickahominy Riverfront phase, completed in 2007, spans from the Greensprings phase to James City County’s Chickahominy Riverfront Park. Two years later, in 2009, construction was completed on the Charles City Courthouse phase. This eight-mile section spans from the Charles City Courthouse to VCU’s Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences.  

The next phase to be completed, the Richmond Riverfront phase, marks the end of the Virginia Capital Trail. This phase consists of three sections. The first section runs from Canal Walk to the Great Ship Lock Park. The second section of the Richmond Riverfront is a three-quarter-mile long segment beginning at the Great Ship Lock Park and ending at the Intermediate Terminal. The last section is one mile in length, running through Rockett’s Landing. The Richmond Riverfront also  connects the trail to Shockoe Bottom’s retail and residential areas.

The Sherwood Forest phase opened in 2014. This 12.5-mile-long section of trail connects the western bank of the Chickahominy River to the Charles City County Courthouse. Completed the same year was the Park phase. Spanning 3.5 miles, this section runs from east of Wood Mill Drive to Four Mile Creek. This section was aptly named due to its proximity to the Dory and Four Mile Creek parks.

The final two phases to be completed, Varina and New Market Heights, located in Henrico County, opened in 2015. The Varina phase of the trail spans 7.6 miles, ending just shy of Richmond. The New Market Heights phase is 10.5 miles long and ends near VCU’s Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences in Charles City County.

As you travel along the trail, you will encounter the rich history of Virginia. Many of these phases have plantations and other attractions, full of history, running throughout. There also many places to rest, relax, dine and explore along your journey.

Posted by: Guest Blogger: Cody Bondeson