Fans of South Richmond’s Forest Hill Park should have even more to celebrate this spring when the weather turns warm. The city plans to celebrate the recently repaired lake at the park, and can now add planned improvements to the excellent and extensive mountain bike trails within the park. This was reported yesterday by Andy Thompson, outdoors writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and a consistent user of the FHP and James River Park System trails:
The lake project was just the highest-profile aspect of a parkwide conversion from diamond in the rough to gleaming gem. The next step will be no less dramatic than the lake work: an overhaul of the entire trail system that rings the park’s wooded slopes. And the news on that front is just as good as the recent lake news.
Nathan Burrell, trails manager for the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, said he expects to have the project completed by next spring. That means cutting over 3 miles of new trail and reclaiming the old, toting rocks, building crib walls, planting, transplanting, and much more – a huge undertaking.
“If we did it like we do now just with volunteer labor,” Burrell said, “You’re talking about another five years before the trails are actually redeveloped.”
Maybe my favorite part of the article was the mention of the work to combat erosion:
Burrell also took pains to explain that because of advances in trail-building methods, the future trails – and the work to create them – will lead to much less erosion than the current paths.
And fat tire lovers shouldn’t worry that FHP will lose luster. The park will still be a destination ride. In fact, if it turns out as Burrell envisions, it’ll be better than it is now. It will flow more, double back on itself less and generally offer a more rider-friendly experience.
The upgrades are long overdue, and in no fault to Richmond MORE or the City of Richmond. I vaguely recall there being disputes over the care of the trails, and work was halted. Biking on the trails was not halted, however. Getting Burrell more involved and allowing the excellent people who volunteer for Richmond MORE back in to repair and rework those rocky hillside trails will improve the trails for everyone — not just the trail users.
The trails in the park have no doubt helped to enhance the perception of Westover Hills and Woodland Heights neighborhoods — increasing the real estate values. Just as important, more well-intentioned people in the park helps to raise the levels of safety and could help cut down on the likelihood that some moron graffiti “artist” would defile the place.
Thanks again go to J.R. Pope and the City of Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation!