Two hikes beginning from the James River Visitor Center offer insight into the balance between ecology and early industry along the Parkway.
The moderate 0.5 mile (one-way) Trail of Trees begins near the James River Visitor Center and wanders through a shaded stream drainage. Trail signs identify many of the trees and shrubs of the river valley. This trail also affords a handsome view of the James River water gap, a rare geological feature.
Canal Lock Trail (0.4 miles round trip) begins at the visitor center and crosses the James River on a walkway beneath the bridge. The restored Battery Creek Lock, located a short distance from the bridge, is typical of those constructed in the 1800s as part of the James River and Kanawha Canal. This canal, with nearly 100 locks, helped make the river a major transportation corridor before the Civil War. Exhibits at the Battery Creek site explain how locks were used to raise and lower boats to adjust for the changing elevation of the river.Map