Pony Pasture: Sightseeing at Virginia’s Natural Haven


June 10, 2011
Catherine Park
Staff Writer

Photos:  Courtesy The Pony Pasture

Getting away from the city heat and congestion won’t require a plane or high costs. Take a look toward Virginia and discover that it hosts natural havens throughout the state. Adventurists, environmentalists or anyone who enjoys the great outdoors can share a wealth of activities this summer at the James River Park System.

The Pony Pasture, one of the popular areas of the park, offers a range of activities that are characteristic to its natural landscape. With close proximity to the river, visitors can swim or soak in the sun on the granite boulders that are scattered throughout. The area is child-friendly with its shallow shorelines, so it’s safe and enjoyable for small children to play.  Others can go canoeing, kayaking and rafting. Pipeline Rapids, which hosts paddle and rafting trips, are launched from downtown Richmond and extend to the Pony Pasture region.

If swimming or basking in the sun isn’t something that interests you, the Pony Pasture also allows for rigorous activities such as biking or running. There are miles of trails, which are categorized into easy, intermediate and advanced levels. Mountain bikers can head toward Belle Isle, the Buttermilk Trail and the North Bank Trail for challenging paths. The XTerra East Championships are held here annually, which gives bikers a compelling reason to experience these trails.

The park is home to abundant wildlife and driftwood. Though it is advised that visitors be cautious of some of its inhabitants, most of the wildlife doesn’t pose great harm. Fishing opportunities are available with a variety of fish species living in the river. The Pony Pasture is home to flathead and blue fishes, and channel catfishes throughout the area. Other species are the smallmouth bass and sunfish, which generally reside by the dams and rockier areas. On occasion, visitors have caught largemouth bass, longnose gar and carps as well. Bird watching is also popular thanks to the bald eagles, cormorants, bufflehead ducks, Great Blue Herons and warblers that live in the area. The Richmond Audubon Society offers bird walks for those who are new to the activity.

The Pony Pasture is open for anyone to visit and is located just two hours from the nation’s capital. The park is open from dusk till dawn and parking lots are located throughout the area. Visitors are encouraged to “BYO Picnic” due to the lack of concessions within the park. Downtown Richmond is only minutes away, so instead of picnicking, dine at a local gem: The Black Sheep. If you plan on staying the night, try out Linden Row Inn, which offers rooms from $129 – $269. Clear some time for a couple of days and head over to Virginia’s local wilderness and get lost in its natural beauty. Visit www.jamesriverpark.org to find out more information about the park and what it has to offer.


7200 Riverside Dr.
Richmond VA 23225

Mapquest: http://mapq.st/mR8pYY

Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities: 804‐646‐5733


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DC Spotlight News Assistant/Writer

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