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Best Place to Hike, Bike and Run 

Readers' Pick

First place:

James River Park System (Hall of Fame Winner)

jamesriverpark.org

Second place: Belle Isle
Third place: Pocahontas State Park
Honorable mention: Capital Trail

What would we do without the James River Park System? Especially during a pandemic, where it’s provided us a lovely space to walk in nature, socially distanced.

Richmond is blessed with a mighty river and its beautiful trails and park system remain the city’s top natural draw. Increasingly it seems like more people are recognizing this and doing what they can to protect its natural beauty.

In February, City Council adopted a 10-year master plan for the James River Park System that includes a list of some 60 projects over 600 acres. Among the plan’s ideas are to create more trails, increase staff and create better access by connecting existing green space so people might travel from Shockoe Bottom all the way to Huguenot Flatwater Park.

Attendance is growing, too. In 2018 some 1.4 million people visited, that number grew to 1.95 million in 2019 and it was expected to pass 2 million in 2020. As Park Superintendent Bruce Wilk told Style for its summer guide this year: In March, the park system saw a 71% increase in attendance.

To encourage people to spread out, the city is emphasizing green spaces beyond the traditional riverside spots, according to Tamara E. Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, in a recent Style cover story. Also, its Hidden Gems series aims to spotlight such places as Pine Camp, Battery Park and Cannon Creek Greenway.

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