Richmond MORE and city open Forest Hill Park trails

New bridge at Forest Hill Park bike trailAfter nearly six months and 800 man hours, one of the key elements to the revitalization of Richmond’s Forest Hill Park is now complete with the re-opening of the biking and hiking trail.

Jimmy McMillan hits the trails at Forest Hill ParkThe trails were closed to allow the reworking of portions of the original trail to help prevent erosion and to make it easier to maintain, said Nathan Burrell, Trail Builder for the City of Richmond.

“That’s why we build them that way — to cut down on the maintenance and let us work on other projects and continue to expand,” he said.

The restored trail is intended for use by everyone, not just the mountain biking community, he said. The single-track trail winds it’s 3.2 miles around the perimeter of the wooded areas of Forest Hill Park and highlights many of the park’s existing features.

Several new techniques were put to use and the trail looks fantastic.

The restoration of Forest Hill Park’s lake was completed under budget and a month early and the park will soon put in place a footbridge over Reedy Creek at the above the lake in memory of the Bryan Harvey family. The lake has become a marsh after being filled by silt over many years of neglect.

“We’ve turned the corner on perception,” said J.R. Pope, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation Department. “People are taking ownership of the parks.”

The Patio at Forest Hill Park in Richmond, VirginiaThe trail restoration was a combined effort from the City of Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, Richmond Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts, and many other volunteer groups.

RA-MORE is an all volunteer organization formed in 2005, is dedicated to improving the state of mountain biking in the Greater Richmond Virginia area.

The Forest Hill Park trail project cost $15,000 to complete — $5,000 from the city and $10,000 in donations, mostly from RA-MORE.

One example of the cost is the new wooden multi-use bridge over a brook in the middle of the park.

New bridge at Forest Hill Park bike trail“The bridge is incredible,” Pope said. The bridge has a curve in the middle as it crosses the ravine and a staircase — a fine example of carpentry.

Several overheard comments from riders as they approached bridge for the first time were nothing but complimentary.

Greg Rollins, president of RA-MORE, congratulated the 25 members that attended an opening day picnic before the group hit the trail to celebrate its completion.

“J.R. saw that the mountain bikers wanted to be a part of the parks,” Rollins said. “Guys that come out and put 8 hours in each Saturday.”

Burrell was the project leader and was especially proud that the trail was completed in time for the Urban Assault mountain bike race, which is part of Dominion Riverrock, scheduled for May 14-15.

J.R. Pope addresses members of RA-MORE at Forest Hill Park“We were able to bring something together that only a small amount of people could use….to something that walkers, hikers, bikers, everyone could use,” he said. “And as a result, everybody is happy!”

Burrell added that the next trail building project is in the wooded hillsides Dogwood Dell, below The Carillon and across the road from Pumphouse Park. 

Pope agreed and said that effort would be the next logical step in establishing the Pumphouse as the new visitor’s center for the James River Park System.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tom on September 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    This is a great mountain bike trail system. I use this in conjuntions with the Buttermilk and Northbank. It is a great ride. Thanks to all groups who participated!


  2. Great news and nice post/article.
    Richmond is very lucky indeed to have such great parks and dedicated people giving their time and money to our parks.

    Would like to know about RA-More and how they raise their moola to support such endeavors. I already know about the James River Outdoor Coalition (see below plug for one of their fundraisers) and would like to know more about RA-More and any other entities drumming up dollars in support of our parks.

    Got Gear? Want Gear?
    The James River Outdoor Coalition is facilitating their annual OUTDOOR GEAR SWAP. Everyone is welcome to sell and buy! Go to to learn more.

    Then, Sunday, April 25th, drop off gear at 11:00 am. (easy drop off via Decatur Avenue)

    Then, browse and shop gear from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm.

    Being held at 1st & Hull Street, concurrent with the Earth Day and Fish Festival happenings.

    Go to to learn more about how to sign up to sell/swap your gear.


  3. Posted by Kory on April 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Kudos for work put into project. It’s extremely appreciated and the appreciation for the volunteers is well-deserved. I’m just concerned about the safety factor. Is that guy really riding his bike down the same stairwell that pedestrians use? What happens if I’m walking the dog up that stairwell and a bicyclist runs into me?


    • Kory, yes, that bridge is part of the trail connector and mountain bikers will be riding the stairs for the most part. If you’re coming the other way, the cyclist should yield to you. (Not all do, but they should.)

      I yield to pedestrians all the time. The trails are multi-use and the greatest portion of the labor, effort and money came from a mountain biking group, so to expect that cyclists won’t be riding it is kind of unrealistic.


  4. Posted by Rider on April 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Glad to see the trail network in FHP fixed: the last version was a text-book example of how NOT to create a trail system. No wonder it eroded in record time.
    Hopefully the City will have learned to keep a closer eye on trail makers who claim to know what they’re doing: it’ll save time effort and money (not to mention wear and tear on the property).
    Nathan did a great job: professionalism shines through!


    • Rider, I don’t know you, but I think it’s time for everyone to get away from negative remarks. Gratitude is more appropriate. The message I gathered from RA-MORE club members is that they know that the trails weren’t perfect, and they are proud that issues have been worked out. I’d suggest that if you didn’t like what the club was doing, you should volunteer along with them to help improve things. Nathan clearly was excited that everyone should be happy with the results of the 800 man hours that were put in on the trails.


      • Posted by Rider on April 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm

        Gratitude it is, then!

        A huge “Thank You” the dedicated volunteers of Friends of Forest Hill Park who did so much hard work and pressed successfully for a re-evaluation and re-design of the trail system.

        They were much maligned throughout the entire process and deserve better than the reaction they received from so many of my fellow riders, riders who for so long were unwilling to publicly acknowledge that the trails in FHP were flawed.

        Thank You, Friends of Forest Hill Park!

        Also big “Thank You” to Nathan Burrell for heeding the call, and following protocol to create a sustainable trail system.

        And kudos to RA-MORE for putting in the effort to correct their mistakes.

      • Posted by Rider on April 29, 2010 at 10:45 am

        BTW I’m not even a FFHP member, but rather a mt. bike enthusiast of 25 years or so.

  5. Phil, I swiped a photo and reposted part of your post to Hills and Heights, with a link back to you of course. Great stuff as always. Let me know if you need me to pull it down or make any changes.


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