RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The best rapids on the James River combine with one of the more unique displays of nature at one of the City of Richmond's best kept secrets: The Pipeline Rapids walkway.
The area, which runs along the river at the Riverside on the James condominiums, is easy to access from the Canal Walk at South 12th and Byrd streets or from Brown's Island and has many fantastic views of the river and the Great Blue Heron rookery.
The walkway is also a good place to spot whitewater enthusiasts. Rafts and kayaks make runs through the area often and can even surf in the Class III rapids. When the river is low, swimmers and rockhoppers hit the area, but extreme caution should used as the rapids are dangerous and there are places people could get trapped underwater.
The walkway is so named because there is a large city water pipeline running the length of the path. Both the pipeline and the metal catwalk on top of the pipeline are located directly under the busy CSX railway viaduct. The area surrounding the Pipeline is part of the James River Park System and under that department's care.
In full view from the pipeline walkway is Bailey's Island and Devil's Kitchen Island (in the center of the river). A spur line of the Norfolk Southern Railroad crosses over these islands past the far eastern end of the path and the 14th Street (Mayo's) Bridge can seen under the tracks.
There is a small parking area with a three-hour limit accessible from South 12th and Byrd streets. Follow the signs and respect the private business parking restrictions.