Some Collegiate students rarely venture past North Mooreland Road, hardly experiencing the beauty of the Southside of Richmond, Virginia. Down in Midlothian, adjacent to James River High School, lies Robious Landing; one of the many public parks in the James River Park System. The park, alongside the James River, is full of trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and water sports.
Robious Landing is populated year-round by dog walkers, fishermen, and water sport enthusiasts. The park is always lively, even during the week. There is always a James River student or two wandering around, or an older couple resting their legs and observing the natural beauty of the river. Wooden benches and picnic tables line the river and are easily accessible, providing a pleasant view for a quick lunch. In this area there are also elegant wood carvings in tree stumps, which add some artistic flair to the bland picnic spaces. There are 3.4 miles of trails, perfect for nature strolls, dog walking, and hand holding. Owners are instructed to have their dogs off leashes, but that rule is rarely enforced, leaving dogs free to roam around the expansive park. The trails are well-managed for the most part; the occasional root, overgrown thorn bush, or left behind dog “business” are the only danger. The paths are by no means strenuous and offering a very charming view, perfect for a free first date.
Fishing is allowed, but the trails are raised above the river and any potential fishable water is rendered inaccessible because of fallen trees and underwater snags. Not many people fish here because the trails are not especially spacious, and those that try generally have no luck. There are some openings with enough space to cast, but the premium spot is the loading ramp, which is frequently used by boaters, or the floating dock, which is normally packed with swimmers.
Out of the woods next to a old boat shed, there is a seldom-used sand volleyball court that contains a droopy net with mostly rocks and dirt instead of sand. Although battered, both add value to the park, helping to bring more youth to engage in with sports, especially aquatic sports. Down a narrow road there is an excellent loading dock, large enough for most motor boats. This dock is in tremendous condition and contributes to the park’s popularity by introducing the opportunity for tow sports. In warmer months, wakeboarding is frequently seen and tends to draw a crowd of intrigued elders and kids. Tubing is most commonly seen, giving spectating people a hardy laugh when a gnarly wipeout occurs. Another loading zone is next to the floating dock, near the parking lot in the center of the park. This ramp provides an almost effortless way to lower kayaks and canoes into the water, and it provides an inexperienced person an easy way to safely get in the water.
The boating shed stores the shells for River City Crew, a rowing club that has participants from across the city of Richmond. Collegiate senior and River City Crew member Lily Cardozo (‘17) said she likes how the park is used by a variety of people. She enjoys seeing recreational “paddle boarders and kayakers, along with the James River High School crew team and a recreational league of older people.” To her, “the best thing about the park is the view of the river.”
Robious Landing is an excellent, family-friendly park. The trails, picnics, playgrounds, and water sports make for a beautiful day outdoors and offer an exclusive look at the James River.
All photos by Matthew Gelozin.