Richmond’s Belle Isle
The city’s island retreat
It’s for bikers, hikers, rock climbers, hula hoopers and Vitamin D seekers. Belle Isle is a preserved park island that’s right in the middle of the James downtown. This part of the James River Park System can be reached by pedestrian footbridge from Tredegar St. on the north shore. Large flat rocks surrounding the island make for good sunbathing, but the powerful Hollywood Rapids are not to be toyed with and are not suitable for swimming. Additional features include wooded trails, interpreted historical sites, mountain biking trails, wheelchair-accessible fishing at the quarry pond, and a granite wall for rock climbing. By the way, long ago, Belle Isle was part of a Native American fishing village. Also, Captain John Smith was here in the 1600s, it was home to a nail factory in the 1800s, and it was a Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.