Pony Pasture and Wetlands Loop

  • Highlights: River views, wetlands, bird watching
  • Distance: 2.7 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 26 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Trailhead Parking: Pony Pasture Park, 7200 Riverside Drive, Richmond
  • Website: James River Park and AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Veil Brewing Co. (Forest Hill)—Stay Hydrate IPA & Crucial Taunt Double IPA

The Hike:

The Pony Pasture has been a favorite warm weather destination for generations of Richmonders. On warm summer days, the parking area fills up well before noon. The sunrise and sunsets here are amazing. In early autumn, mist rises from the river in early morning and the rocks have a golden hue. This short trail consists of two loops is well marked and well maintained.

Begin the hike at the main parking area on Riverside Drive. Rest rooms and a trail kiosk are located here. From the kiosk, walk down the steps and take in the amazing views of the James River. In the summer when the water levels are low, you can easily walk into the river to the rocks. After periods of heavy rain, water levels may rise and enter the river can be dangerous. Look for posted signs indicating if the high water level is unsafe.

From the trail kiosk, follow the aptly named Riverside Trail with the river on your left. Several short spur trails on the left lead to the river with nice views, including Half Moon Beach. Several spur trails to the right lead back to the parking area so stay straight on the main trail. The park is small so you can safely explore the spur trails.

At .9 miles reach a trail junction. Turn left here and walk across the bridge and turn left again on the Wetlands Trail. The trail passes beside a large meadow surrounded by swamp forest and a shallow pond ideal for bird and wildlife watching. The trail also borders a golf course for several hundred yards.

Continue the loop through the Wetlands and at 1.6 miles bear right and then a few hundred yards take the first left to return to the footbridge. Cross the bridge and turn left on the Pleasants Creek Trail to return to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

The Veil Brewery in Richmond has been one of our favorites since they opened in 2016. Their newest location is in the Forest Hill section of Richmond, just a few miles from the Pony Pasture Park. The Veil specializes in hop-forward beers with over 20 taps as well as cider, seltzer, and wine. A variety of great food options are available from Y Tu Mamá. The family friendly location includes plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Pete really liked Stay Hydrate, an American-style IPA brewed with Citra, Galaxy, and Motueka hops. Kathy always enjoys Crucial Taunt, Veil’s flagship DIPA brewed with Citra hops. With 65 IBUs, this is a hopfest in a glass. 

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.