The full glory of the Capital Trail is soon to be ours

We did it. We finally did it. That thing is about to open for real, and you’re about to figure out why it’s been such a huge deal.

The Virginia Capital Trail project, whose seed was planted way back in 1991, is being grandly opened on October 2nd. That puts it more than a year behind schedule–money problems, angry Richmonder yelling problems, and whatnot–but the day is finally upon us. James City County and Charles City County have completed their ends of the deal, and now we hungrily await the “New Market Heights Phase” section of the trail–10.3 miles between Longbridge Road just east of I-295 and Kimages Road (Route 658). And then the project will emerge triumphant from the weeds!

If you do a lot of driving along Route 5 (and I suggest you do on some beautiful Sunday afternoon), you’ve been seeing the trail start, stop, and bridge gaps over the years. Watching it progress has been sort of like watching a route materialize on that map Harry Potter’s always carrying around–only in extreme slow motion. The annual Cap2Cap ride from Richmond to Williamsburg has been around so long (a full decade) that it’s easy to forget that it’s a fundraiser for the trail.

After feasibility studies in the late 90s, Governor Mark Warner’s administration gets some initial funding from the commonwealth in 2003, followed by some federal funds the next year. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is formed that same year to tackle PR, help with fundraising, and be a resource to citizens looking for more information.

Ground broke in 2005 in Jamestown, nine years after VDOT requested initial proposals for feasibility studies and 14 years after the Virginia Department of Transportation called for bicycle lanes on Route 5. A year later, that portion of the trail (the “Greensprings Road” portion) was complete. A year after that, the Richmond Riverfront section construction began.

The “Varina/Park Phase” connects the trail to Downtown Richmond at Great Shiplock Park (starting point of the Low Line beautification project). And, directly after the Big Bike Race™, if you’re in Richmond, you get easy access to the official grand unveiling on Friday, October 2nd at 5:30 PM at Great Shiplock Park (2803 Dock Street).

Then, hit the trail on Saturday, October 3rd and (if you ride fast enough) catch all four Virginia Capital Trail Day celebrations, which include more ribbon cuttings. Check back here for more updates as to what this will entail, besides friggin’ wild mayhem along the James! I mean, for the whole family, you know.

Keep abreast of the situation (and retrace the journey) by reading the news updates by Beth Weisbrod, Executive Director of Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. She’s an engaging writer and her passion is real.

And now, some photos

On a regular old Sunday, the trail had plenty of pedestrians and cyclists upon it from Downtown to Rocketts Landing. Past the Lehigh Silo wreckage, past the Yuengling Cave, past the University of Richmond boats, past the Rocketts Landing community gardens that I didn’t know existed, past some broken down structures intriguingly slated for some sort of development, and you’re suddenly in the country. On your bike. It’s pretty thrilling.




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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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  1. Scott on said:

    The East Coast Greenway ( will have an even bigger impact.

  2. chase on said:

    This project is so cool. I’ve been watching it develop as I ride to Williamsburg, and it just hit me the other day that I can really take my kids on this thing at Shiplock and ride with them for miles and miles without encountering a car (I knew this was the goal, I just didn’t realize how close they were to finishing!)

  3. chase on said:

    if only there was a brewery alongside it like Vienna has with Caboose Brewing on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail…if only some young upstart could figure that out…

  4. Gerri on said:

    We really have been enjoying the Route 5 portion of the trail , but we wish there were more parking facilities and restroom stops for those of us oldsters who can’t complete the whole trail. As it is now, we can only go between Jamestown and Charles Cilty Courthouse.

  5. Oh, it’s coming, Chase, trust me. :)

  6. chase on said:

    Gerri- I kind of share your sentiment. I can ride the whole thing, but large parts of that ride kind of suck when there’s 20 miles between convenience stores. Not the trail’s fault at all, but something I have to remember!

  7. Brian on said:

    The only other thing that would make this trail perfect is if there were some non paved sections for us cross bikers!

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