Virginia Capital Trail’s Great Shiplock Park Trailhead and Chapel Island Park Marks Strides in City’s Riverfront Plan

The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation (VCTF) and the City of Richmond jointly announced today the opening of the Virginia Capital Trail western trailhead at Great Shiplock Park.

“We are excited to open the new Great Shiplock Park Trailhead where we can welcome residents and visitors to Richmond’s spectacular and historic riverfront,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We’ve made great progress on the Virginia Capital Trail since the official kickoff in 2009, and we are grateful to the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation and all the donors that have made these improvements to Richmond’s Trailhead possible.”

“Shiplock Park is the perfect place for Virginia Capital Trail users to begin or end their trail experience. It’s historic, it’s scenic and now it encourages people to linger and explore more of the surrounding area”, said Virginia Capital Trail Foundation executive director, Beth Weisbrod. “Once the trail is complete in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people will come through this park every year.”

The ceremony also highlighted the revitalizations of Chapel Island, to include the addition of a non-motorized boat launch, a half-mile trail, and significantly-enhanced access to the 5.6 acres of riverfront parkland. Newly-added interpretative signage highlights the island’s history as the site of the Trigg Shipbuilding Company in 1898, as well as the island’s role in the ecology of the tidal James River.

The Richmond Regional Planning District Commission obtained a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through NOAA’s National Coastal Zone Management Program. Under the direction of James River Park System Manager Nathan Burrell, the City of Richmond matched the grant with over 1,200 hours of labor generously provided by volunteers from Friends of the James River Parks, the James River Hikers, the James River Outdoor Coalition, and various corporate partners through Hands on Greater Richmond.

The improvements to Chapel Island will benefit nature lovers, fishermen, history aficionados, kayakers and canoeists. “The Chapel Island project is another step towards implementing the City of Richmond’s Riverfront Plan,” said Nathan Burrell. 

The VCTF raised over $550,000 from private sources to re-landscape, add shade structures, lighting, benches, bike racks and signage to a city park through which the Virginia Capital Trail runs. Supporters of this project include: MWV, Dominion, The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, The Robert G. Cabell II and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation, Capital Trees, CSX Corporation, Luck Companies, Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation and others.

The Richmond Trailhead is just one component of the Virginia Capital Trail, which will extend approximately 53 miles from Richmond to Jamestown upon completion in 2015.  A half-mile of trail is currently open in downtown Richmond adjoining the new Great Shiplock Park Trailhead, and there are 7.5- and 8-mile stretches of trail now in use in Charles City County and James City County, respectively. The remaining portions of the Virginia Capital Trail — the rest of the Richmond Riverfront, Varina, New Market Heights, and Sherwood Forest sections — are scheduled to open in phases, with the completed trail to open by fall 2015, in time for the UCI Road World Cycling Championships when hundreds of thousands of visitors will converge for two weeks in downtown Richmond.

About the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation
The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation (VCTF) is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) organization, and is the principal advocate for the completion and enhancement of the Virginia Capital Trail, a 53-mile dedicated multi-use trail connecting Richmond and Williamsburg along the historic and beautiful Route 5 corridor. To develop the trail as a world-class attraction, the Foundation raises money to promote it within the region, the state, and the nation through partnerships and larger trail affiliations. The VCTF is also charged with enhancing the trail by installing signs, trailheads, benches, and other amenities to make the trail experience safe, educational, and—most importantly—unforgettable.