Local landowners protect public access to Buttermilk Trail

A 3.46 acre donation from private landowners includes a portion of the trail and will be added to the James River Park System.

A map on the Buttermilk Trail.

The Buttermilk Trail is named for a cool spring on the trail where deliverymen would stockpile cans of dairy.

Photo via Capital Region Land Conservancy

Richmonders will be able to hike, bike, and enjoy the Buttermilk Trail for generations to come thanks to a gift from landowners Josh and Carrie Belt Rogers.

The couple donated 3.46 acres of their Westover Hills property — which includes portions of the popular trail — to the Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC). The land will be transferred to the City of Richmond to become part of the James River Park System, adding to the ~600 acres of JRPS.

The conservation was also made possible by a $25,000 grant from Friends of James River Park to CRLC to facilitate the transaction.

The Buttermilk Trail is a popular spot for hikers, dog walkers, and bikers. It also has a unique history. The name comes from the Buttermilk Spring, a cool waterway where workers would store cans of dairy while organizing downtown deliveries.

In recent years, portions of the trail have been at risk of closure due to the liability of having a large number of people on sections of private property.

Expanding JRPS is in line with the park system’s Master Plan, published in 2019. That document names acquiring privately-owned parcels along the river as a key strategy for expansion, along with creating new riverside public spaces and incorporating publicly-owned parcels.