Fun and Adventure on the James River in Virginia 

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Thinking of buying a riverfront home in Virginia? The James River is one of the longest rivers in America that begins and ends in the same state. It is 340 miles long and covers the entire state. The river begins in the mountains and ends by flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. The James River is home to 1/3 of all Virginians and touches more Virginians than any other feature in the landscape. Living alongside this amazing river you will be able to take advantage of a variety of nature inspired activities from fishing to hiking to swimming all in your own backyard. Below are just a few examples of water sports and activities available to you on the James River.


The James River is home to a variety of feathered beauties including bufflehead ducks, barred owls, osprey and great blue heron. While on your bird watching excursion, be certain to visit Richmond which is the only capital city with bald eagles nesting within its city limits. Although it may be tempting to just grab binoculars, head out to the river and start looking for birds, there is a better way to birdwatch. The best time to catch sight of local birds is daybreak when birds are first beginning their day or when they are settling in for the evening in the late afternoon. The best location for bird sightings is on the verge between a wooded area and open field or at the edge of the James River where you can find them swimming or flying overhead. To increase your chances of a bird sighting, listen for birdsong/bird calls and then use binoculars to track down the source of the calls. You’ll be spotting our feathered friends in no time.

Canoeing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Board and White Water Rafting

The James River provides water sport experiences for people of all abilities. The restful flat-water of the James River is the perfect spot for Stand Up Paddle Board enthusiasts. The calm waters allow a leisurely paddle board experience while giving you the chance to take in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Canoeing and Kayaking enthusiasts will find a variety of paddling opportunities within their abilities from leisurely calm waters of Huguenot Flatwater to the adrenaline producing, heart pumping class lV rapids of the lower James. All areas are equally stunning so be realistic about your abilities and choose a location that matches your skill level. 


The James River park is full of amazing sights and has a variety of great hiking/walking trails to choose from. The James River provides sanctuary for a variety of birds, animals and plant species and makes for an interesting afternoon of nature discovery. Take the Louise Burke trail or R.B. Young trail where you will enjoy an easy walk of less than half a mile with gorgeous river views. Nature lovers will love spending an afternoon watching nature. Spend time along the river’s edge and you can see birds such as great blue herons and bald eagles, animals such as otters and red foxes and you may even see spotted salamanders. Head to Belle Isle for an intermediate walk/hike on a trail that loops around the island and for experienced hikers/walkers enjoy the advanced trail that includes the Buttermilk trail and North Bank trail to where the trail ends at Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge. 

Mountain Biking

Mountain Bike enthusiasts living along the James River will find 22 miles of trails that range from beginner in the Pony Pasture area to the technically challenging trails of the main loop. There is also a bike skills park located on Belle Isle allowing cyclists to work on skill building before tackling the more challenging trails. 


Because the River covers the entirety of the state of Virginia there is quite a variety of fishing available. Smallmouth bass are the most prevalent species and are good throughout the river. Varieties of catfish and sunfish can also be found throughout the James River and no one spot is best for catching any particular fish. You just need to find where they happen to be congregated at any particular time and use the appropriate bait. One of the best ways to fish the river is by canoe but you can also fish from the shoreline.  

Rock Climbing

Home to one of central Virginia’s premier rock climbing areas, the Manchester Climbing Wall offers climbing for multiple skill levels. The three pillars that make up the climbing walls are remnants of a nineteenth century granite block railroad bridge which has been equipped with bolts and shutts. On Belle Isle you will find an old granite quarry that has become a granite face for climbers. The wall reaches 30 to 40 feet high with multiple routes with one or two being bolted and most are considered easy to moderate climbs.

Swimming, Tubing and Picnicking 

Finally the James River is the perfect place to spend with your friends or family. Wade with your younger children in the shallow pool and rapids, or go swimming using the sandy beach on the east end of Belle Isle. For safety, it is a good idea to avoid swimming in the rapids, bring a friend and consider wearing old shoes and a life jacket. Grab an inner tube and you can float down the James as you relax and watch nature scenes on the shore. Make a day of it and have a picnic next to the majestic beauty of this amazing river.

A day spent in nature is a great way to improve your mood, health and lower your stress level. Living on the Virginia Riverfront you are able to take advantage of everything the riverfront lifestyle has to offer. The length and diversity of the James River provides ample opportunities to find the perfect spot to enjoy the nature driven activity of your choice. Your toughest decision will be choosing which part of this beautiful riverfront you want to make your home.