$1 Million Grant to Extend Appomattox River Trail

A 25-mile bike and walking trail is in the works on the Appomattox River, and a brand new $1 million grant will help pay for it.

The Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) and The Cameron Foundation jointly announced the grant to develop the western entrance to the Lower Appomattox River Trail. FOLAR is a regional organization working collaboratively with the community and six local jurisdictions (the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg
and the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, and Prince George) to develop, maintain, and protect a 20-plus-mile regional blueway-greenway corridor along Virginia’s scenic, historic lower Appomattox River.

As part of their work, FOLAR is leading the development of the 25-mile long bicycle-pedestrian Appomattox River Trail. As envisioned, the Appomattox River Trail will extend from Lake Chesdin, a long impoundment on the river, to its confluence with the James River at City Point, in Hopewell. It follows part of the 65-mile commercial canal that linked the ports of Petersburg and Hopewell with upstream communities in the 19th century. You can read more about Hopewell, City Point, and its evolution over time in the September issue of Chesapeake Bay Magazine, out next week.

Approximately 10 miles of this trail have been completed to date, including a portion of Hopewell’s beautiful Riverwalk, a project of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. FOLAR estimates that the full cost of the trail will be $10 million, coming from multiple sources.

“The Appomattox River Trail is an extremely ambitious project,” said Aaron Reidmiller, Director of Recreation & Parks. “Many people thought it might never come to fruition. However, with the development of our Riverwalk and the most recent announcement of this grant from The Cameron Foundation, the trail is quickly becoming reality. The proposed improvements to the western end will dramatically improve that corridor of the trail, highlighting some of the river’s unique natural features and rich history. Investments in recreation infrastructure have tremendous positive impact, ranging from physical and mental health improvement to economic development and tourism.”

This Cameron Foundation grant supports trail development in Dinwiddie and Chesterfield counties and the City of Petersburg. The foundation says the award “supports design development, pre-construction engineering, and construction of the Appomattox River Trail along the western corridor; planning and design of a brand-new bicycle-pedestrian bridge; and the reimagining and renovation of the historic Ferndale Appomattox Riverside Park. The full
area to be developed, from the John J. Radcliffe Conservation Area in Chesterfield County across the river to Dinwiddie, along the historic 1.4-mile Canal Trail and one mile of riverside trail east toward Petersburg, creates a destination-level, regional western entrance, and connection to the developing 25-mile Appomattox River Trail system.”

The Lower Appomattox River Trail will become part of a network that includes the spectacular 55-mile Virginia Capital Trail, crossing the Chickahominy River and paralleling the James between Richmond and Williamsburg, and the planned but not yet begun north-south, 40-mile Fall Line Trail from Ashland, just north of Richmond, to Petersburg. The latter follows the boundary between the eastern edge of the Piedmont plateau and the coastal plain, crossing the headwaters of the York River and the James at Richmond before linking to the Lower Appomattox Trail.

For a breakdown of current trail and river access points along with a map, click here.

John Page Williams