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Five Richmond parks you've got to see during autumn

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by Kate Vinnedge

Photo by Will Fisher

There’s something special about our city during autumn - and with the start of the season, it’s the perfect time to begin planning your Fall’s natural excursions! Every view of Richmond looks like a postcard when framed by crisp blue skies and punctuated with flaming tree branches overhanging red brick sidewalks; but for as picturesque a pair as autumn and our city are, the season is fleeting.

Soon, winter will be here - and before you know it, the trees will shake away their leaves, and pumpkin spice will give way to peppermint - and that’s why we’ve put together a list of the best natural experiences our city has to offer in the autumn:

1. Virginia Capital Trail

This 51.7 mile paved trail can be accessed from downtown Richmond or Williamsburg, and many places in-between the two trail heads. From hikers to bikers, and dog-walkers to skateboarders, the trail is open for everyone to use! Complete with bathrooms, and access to campsites, hotels, and restaurants, the Virginia Capital Trail offers something for everyone - from access to other parks like Dorey Park, to tours such as Basket & Bike.

The park is open year round, but shines brightest during the Fall - especially the areas of the trail that follow the bank of the James closely - the autumn leaves paint a vivid landscape when viewed against the river’s valley.

2. Byrd Park

Just north of the more famous Maymont Park (which is another great park to visit during the fall), Byrd Park encompasses Both Swan and Shields Lake, as is home to the VITA trail, Arts in the Park, the Virginia War Memorial Carillon, and the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater.

Surround yourself in the beautiful fall scenery Byrd Park provides - from red, orange, and yellow leaves rustling in the tops of old and magnificent trees, to the always slightly-nostalgic sound of geese honking as they fly overhead, or the fairytale-like cul-de-sac of Byrd Court.

3. Forest Hill Park

It’s easy to forget you’re five minutes away from downtown when visiting Forest Hill Park - the way the trails lead you down the steep and serene wooded hillsides that encircle the park takes away the stress of the day, and blocks all views of human development (other than the beautiful gazebo you’ll find at the center of the park).

There’s no pond loop more peaceful in Richmond - and against the backdrop of a crisp autumn day, a few hours of walking the winding and crossing trails of Forest Hill Park is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

4. Rockwood Park

Located just south of Richmond on Courthouse Road and Hull Street, Rockwood Park is a 171-acre park offering fields, courts, an archery range, a dog park, a nature center, and miles of trail systems.

The park is fantastic for both the spirited hiker and the whole family - from soft or hard trails that wind through woods, to an arboretum, garden plots, and a playground, Rockwood Park is a treasure trove of outdoor amenities. Everywhere you look you’ll be greeted by the colors of fall - nowhere in the park is without the magnificent beauty of the old trees that call Rockwood Park home.

5. Powhite Park

Another park located south of Richmond, Powhite Park offers hikers and bikers a 1.75 mile trail system, tucked away between the Powhite Parkway, and Westover Heights. Despite this location, however, the park provides the perfect escape from the city, and is the perfect place to disappear from the responsibility of the day for an hour or two.

With winding trails, numerous hills, a babbling brook, and a beautifully-maintained forest, Powhite Park is an unsuspecting autumn experience you won’t forget.

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