Richmond doesn’t have a huge variety of climbing options, but what it does have can be a lot of fun, especially for beginner and intermediate climbers. If you’ve never climbed or your experience is limited, but you think it looks fun, indoor climbing gym Peak Experiences is probably the best place to start. There you can learn about gear and skills, become educated in how to climb safely, practice climbing, and meet other members of the rock climbing community.
Once you’re ready to head outside, the Manchester Wall offers the best climbing — for total routes, variety and difficulty — in the region. Part of the James River Park System, the Manchester Wall is actually the biggest of four pillars that, in the 19th century, held up the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad bridge. The Wall is about 65 feet tall, and between all four pillars there are over 40 routes available to climbers, ranging in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.11a. Most of the routes have anchor points at the top and many of the climbs have bolts along the way for lead climbing. Some anchors can be accessed from above, so that people can top-rope, while others will require someone to lead climb up to set a top rope.
Local climber Michael Greeby has produced a handy guide to climbing the Manchester Wall and the adjacent pillars.
The rock wall above the quarry pond at Belle Isle is also popular with climbers, though less so than the Manchester Wall. The climbs are much shorter. Setups are similar to Manchester.
If bouldering is your thing, there are options in the James River Park, especially along the Buttermilk Trail between Reedy Creek and the Nickel Bridge. Places like the Sean Lough rocks, the Egg boulder and the Whale boulder are popular with climbers.
Falls meet tides in downtown Richmond, and area anglers reap the rewards. For four hundred years, fishermen have found the James River — where the rocky Piedmont meets the sandy Coastal Plain — to be a place of great variety and bounty. The same holds true today.
From Bosher’s Dam near the city’s western limit through the Mayo Bridge downtown, fishermen have their pick of freshwater species: smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, channel, flathead and blue catfish. Below Mayo Bridge, where the rapids give way to tidally-influenced water, blue catfish and largemouth bass reign. The fishing here is augmented by seasonal runs of American and hickory shad and striped bass, all on their way upriver to spawn.
The James is the most popular fishing destination in Central Virginia, but is by no means the only one. Public access ponds and lakes from Powhatan to Henrico counties beckon with stocked populations of largemouth bass, sunfish and catfish. Dorey Park, near the airport, and Shields Lake in Richmond also receive seasonal stockings of brown and rainbow trout as part of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Urban Fishing Program.
No matter your fishing pleasure, you can find all you need to know to get out on the water here.