Virginia Capital Trail
Virginia Capital Trail is a bicycle and pedestrian trail between Williamsburg, Jamestown and Richmond in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It is 55 miles (89 km) in length and largely parallels a highway, Virginia Route 5, a Virginia Scenic Byway.
Part of the East Coast Greenway runs along the trail.
The trail ranges in width from eight to ten feet (2.4 to 3.0 m) and is paved with asphalt throughout its entire length to accommodate all modes of non-motorized land transportation. Trail users share the Judith Stewart Dresser Bridge over the Chickahominy River with Route 5 motorists, using a specially designed area physically separated from motor vehicles. Portions of the Virginia Capital Trail first opened in 2006, and the full trail was finally completed in 2015.
Amenities along the Trail include bike rentals, fix-it stations, snack areas, restrooms, geocaching, rain shelters, and a playground at Chickahominy Riverfront Park.
A unique trail
The name derives from the fact that the trail links the three capitals of the British Colony of Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia after independence. As the Trail moves westward from Williamsburg, it passes near the former homes of presidents John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, and Benjamin Harrison. The trail is noted for passing through the habitats of unique wildlife, including one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the United States.
Virginia Capital Trail Foundation (VCTF) is a public-private partnership whose mission is to enhance, promote, manage, and advocate for the continued development of the Virginia Capital Trail. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), a state agency, describes their relationship as "working partners on this unique project."
Sections and dates when completed
The Virginia Capital Trail was completed in October 2015.
- Colonial Parkway Phase (added bike trail along existing Colonial National Historical Parkway)
- Greensprings Phase (2.4 miles) - opened in 2006
- Chickahominy Phase (4.8 miles) - opened in 2007
- Sherwood Forest Phase (13 miles) – completed late 2014
- Charles City Courthouse Phase (7.3 miles) – opened in 2009
- New Market Heights Phase (10.3 miles) – completed fall 2015
- Varina/Park Phase (11.3 miles) – completed summer 2015
- Richmond Riverfront Phase, Section Two (1.5 miles) – completed summer 2015
- Richmond Riverfront Phase, Section One (.8 miles) – opened in 2010
Noteworthy places on trail or nearby
- (listed east to west)
- City of Williamsburg (Capital from 1699-1780)
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Old Capitol Building
- Duke of Gloucester Street
- Bruton Parish Church
- Governor's Palace
- Merchants Square
- The College of William & Mary
- Colonial Parkway
- James City County (one of the original shires of Virginia)
- Jamestown, Virginia (Capital from 1607-1699)
- Historic Jamestowne (sic)
- Jamestown Settlement
- Chickahominy Wildlife Refuge
- Jamestown Ferry
- Charles City County (another of the original shires of Virginia)
- Sherwood Forest Plantation is the home of United States President John Tyler, the first Vice President to ascend to the Presidency. Tyler was twice Governor of Virginia, a U.S. Senator, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Virginia state senator and member of the Virginia House of Delegates. A graduate of The College of William & Mary, he later became Chancellor of that institution. As a supporter of state's rights, he re-entered public service in 1861 as an elected member of the Confederate Congress. He died in 1862. The house and its 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) have been continuously owned by his direct descendants. In the mid-1970s, the residence was restored by President Tyler's grandson and his wife, the current owners. The House, circa 1730, is "Virginia Tidewater" in architectural design, and is the longest frame dwelling in America. It was expanded to its present length, 300 feet (90 m), by President Tyler in 1845, when he added the 68 foot (21 m) ballroom designed for dancing the Virginia reel. Sherwood Forest is a National Historic Landmark, Virginia Historic Landmark, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- Fort Pocahontas notable for construction by African American soldiers of the United States Colored Troops under the command of Union Brigadier General Edward Augustus Wild during the American Civil War.
- Evelynton Plantation was originally part of William Byrd's expansive Westover Plantation. Named for Byrd's daughter, Evelyn, this site has been home to the Ruffin family since 1847. The 2,500 acres (10 km2) farm is still family owned and operated. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- North Bend Plantation was built in 1819 by John Minge. In 1853 the home was doubled in size by Thomas Willcox. Architectural detailing from the expansion included Greek Revival detailing reminiscent of the designs of builder/architect Asher Benjamin. During the American Civil War, in 1864, it served as the headquarters of Union General Philip Sheridan. The home has been in Copland family since 1916. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation was established in the eighteenth century as a seat of the Southall family. During the late eighteenth century the 300-acre (1.2 km2) plantation was owned by Furneau Southall. The original log portion of Piney Grove was built before 1790 as a corn crib, later converted and enlarged into a general merchandise, and in 1905 enlarged and transformed into a residence. The home survives as a rare and well-preserved example of Early Virginia Log Architecture. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Edgewood Plantation and Harrison's Mill is a unique surviving example of Gothic Revival architecture along State Route 5 and the James River. Edgewood was once part of Berkeley Plantation and the mill was constructed by Benjamin Harrison V. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- Westover Plantation was built circa 1730 by William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond. It is noteworthy for its secret passages, magnificent gardens, and architectural details. The grounds and garden are open daily, but the house is not open to the public. 
- Berkeley Plantation was long the seat of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. It was the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, son of the builder, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia. His third son, William Henry Harrison, was born at Berkeley. A famous Indian fighter known as "Tippecanoe", William Henry Harrison later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841, although he died shortly after taking office. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President. On December 4, 1619, early settlers from England came ashore at Berkeley and observed the first official Thanksgiving in America. It was also the site of the first playing of Taps at the conclusion of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 during the American Civil War. 
- Charles City Courthouse
- Benjamin Harrison Memorial Bridge
- Shirley Plantation, settled in 1613, is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638. Occupied by the Hill family and their descendants since 1738, the mother of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Anne Hill Carter Lee, was born at Shirley and in 1793, married "Light Horse Harry" Lee in the mansion's parlor. Shirley Plantation has been designated a National Historic Landmark. 
- Belle Air Plantation is a unique surviving example of a wooden house with postmedieval-type exposed interior framing, and is probably the oldest plantation dwelling along State Route 5. The original five-bay portion of Belle Air possesses architectural details characteristic of seventeenth century construction with a floor plan and façade fenestration characteristic of 18th-century design. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- Henrico County, (another of the original shires of Virginia)
- Curles Neck Plantation, home of Nathaniel Bacon, the leader of 1676's Bacon's Rebellion, still a working farm and not open to public
- Varina Farms, home of John Rolfe and Pocahontas between 1614 and 1616, also still a working farm and not open to public
- Richmond National Battlefield Park (units including Fort Harrison)
- City of Richmond (capital 1780-present)
- Tobacco Row a U.S. historic district fronting the James River directly east of Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom with a bunch of old factories and warehouses now converted into apartments and offices
- Church Hill a U.S. historic district located on ground elevation higher than that of Downtown and the area to the west of it, location of St. John's Church
- St. John's Church site of Patrick Henry's famous "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech
- Shockoe Bottom a U.S. historic district in Downtown Richmond that was a bunch of old factories and warehouses and has since converted into mixed use residential buildings, restaurants and bars
- Shockoe Slip a U.S. historic district in Downtown Richmond area with a bunch of historic structures mostly used as office buildings, shops and restaurants
- Main Street Station historic station renovated and restored in 2003 with use as a multi-modal Amtrak train station and GRTC bus depot
- Canal Walk completed in 1999, historic walk through restored canal, access to James River and Historic Tredegar Iron Works
- American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar Iron Works old iron works and artillery for use in the American Civil War
- Virginia State Capitol