Belle Isle (Virginia)

Belle Isle (Virginia)

Belle Isle is a small (54 acre) island in the James River in Richmond, Virginia in the United States. Belle Isle is owned by the city of Richmond, and has been designated a city park. It is accessible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic via a suspension footbridge. 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 is not to be confused with Belle Isle State Park, located on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County, Virginia.


Belle Isle offers Richmonders the opportunity to view wildlife in its natural habitat, at a location only a few minutes from the heart of the city. Songbirds, ducks and blue herons are a common sight. Squirrels, small amphibians and reptiles also inhabit the island.

Historical note

Belle Isle was the site of a Civil War prison camp for Union soldiers. A [ list of prisoners] who died at Belle Isle is available. The Battle of Walkerton was the result of a failed Union attempt to free them.


Belle Isle is a great place for people with a love for the outdoors. Popular activities of adults and youths alike include: walking the trails, swimming in the James River, sunbathing, birdwatching, and kayaking in the James. The island also offers many old and ruined buildings, among other run-down sites along the trails.

Because it contains many trees and is remote from constant human presence, the island is home to some animal wildlife, an uncommon presence within the city's borders.


Dogs are permitted on Belle Isle, though they must be kept on leashes no longer than six feet in length. There are a few designated areas for pet waste in small sandboxes.

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