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Belle Isle, Richmond

4.5
#4 of 13 in Parks in Richmond
Belle Isle is a small island in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Belle Island lies within the James River, and being owned by the city it serves as a city park. It is accessible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic via a suspension footbridge that runs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge from the northern shore of the James. Except when the water level of the James is high, it is also reachable by foot from the southern shore via easy boulder-hopping. From Belle Isle, one can see Hollywood Cemetery, the old Tredegar Iron Works, and Richmond City's skyline. Belle Isle has many bike trails around the island, and has a small cliff used for rock climbing instruction.
Belle Isle was originally known as Broad Rock Island. It was first explored by Captain John Smith in 1607. In the 18th century the island was occupied by a fishery. In 1814, the Old Dominion Iron and Nail Company completed a nail factory. During the 1860s, the island was inhabited by a village complete with a school, church, and general store.
Civil WarThe island served as a prison for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. Between 1862 and 1865, the island was home to about 30,000 POWs and as many as 1,000 died, though accounts vary with the South claiming the death rate was low, while the North claimed it was very high. The Battle of Walkerton was the result of a failed Union attempt to free them.
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Belle Isle Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
161 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • My husband is huge in family history and we went to Belle Isle in search of a monument and a deserted graveyard that is there. We found both and it made him very happy! It was a beautiful October day ...  more »
  • This is a very nice island with some great trails, but need better trail markers indicating which one you are traveling. Love the mountain bike skills park and all the historical buildings still on th...  more »
Google
  • This place is somewhere you'd want to be to relax, it's very clean and peaceful. Even though you're close to 95...is still pretty quiet all you can hear is the water running. This was my first time here and I loved it. The path to get to the water is a little long but at the end...is worth the walk. Bring a flashlight for the walk back....(the path could use some lighting on the way back to the parking lot), as it's gets pretty dark at night time. Otherwise beautiful place for a picnic or just to enjoy the water.
  • Cool experience. A lot of locals favorite place to use recreational drugs but plenty of space to move upwind
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