RVA Flood Wall and Slave Trails

  • Highlights: Great river and city views, Flood Wall, Brown’s Island 
  • Distance: 6.6 miles, out and back
  • Elevation change: 286 feet
  • Difficulty level: moderate
  • Website: James River Park system
  • Parking: Ancarrow’s Landing, 1200 Brander St, Richmond, VA 23224
  • Beer pairings: Legend Brewery-Oak Aged Brown Ale and Legend Hazey Days IPA

The Hike:

There are several starting points for this loop hike. Brown’s Island is a popular spot and parking can be difficult to find on weekends. The Manchester climbing wall parking lot at 7th and Semmes is small and is intended for climbers. We like to park at Ancarrow’s Landing on Brander Street. There is plenty of parking and it is close to Legend Brewing.

The hike begins at the parking lot and follows the river going north towards the city. Rocket’s Landing is across the river. The trail winds through a forested section on the left and views of the river on the right. This is the most “rural” section of the trail although traffic noise from the highway is a constant reminder that this is a city hike. In less than one mile the trail passes under I95 and the trail follows under the highway for a bit before the highway crosses the river.

The paved trail follows the river and soon the Richmond floodwall will appear on the left. Follow the trail under the Mayo Bridge and loop around and up to street level. The Slave Trail follows the bridge over the James; however, we will connect with the Floodwall Trail. Turn right on Hull Street and on the right is a ramp to an observation tower with nice river and city views. Continue on Hull Street and turn right onto the floodwall trail across from the Richmond Railroad Museum.

The Floodwall will soon be on the right and a small creek on the left. A stairway will take you up to the top of the floodwall with more great river and city views. The trail passes under the Manchester Bridge at 9th Street. On your right will be the Manchester climbing wall and if you are looking for a short cut, turn right here, pass below the climbing wall and up the stairs to the Potterfield Bridge. 

If you want a longer hike, continue straight and follow the trail as it loops around before connecting with the Potterfield Bridge. This adds about ½ mile to the hike but it connects with a pedestrian bridge to Manchester and Legend Brewery. Follow the “T Pott” bridge to Brown’s Island. Take a loop around the island and retrace your steps back to your car.

Beer Pairing:

Legend Brewing (321 West 7th Street) was one of the first microbreweries in Richmond. Over 20 years later they are still going strong. They have a great brew pub and if the weather is nice, their outdoor patio has great views of the James and the Richmond skyline. Legend Brown has been a longtime favorite; however, on a recent visit we decide to try the Hazey Days IPA. Our server told us it was “solidly hoppy” and we really liked it. It had just enough citrusy tones from the hops without too much fruitiness of other IPAs. The Legend Oak Aged Brown Ale was a limited edition version of their go-to Brown ale. Oak bourbon barrels gave the beer more of vanilla and caramel taste. A perfect complement to a cheeseburger on the patio.  

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.