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Where to Park It

August 2021

With the dedication of Clinch River State Park in June, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation added its 41st park to its system. While all of the parks offer a variety of activities, we’ve highlighted some specific attributes of these spectacular parks. By no means are the opportunities limited to what is listed here; it’s just a representative sampling of attractions and adventures. In other words, Cooperative Living readers shouldn’t take our word for it; get out there and explore them firsthand. THREE-IN-ONE For those who want to visit more than one park in a day, Bear Creek Lake, Twin Lakes and Sailor’s Creek Battlefield sit in close proximity to each other, and cater to a wide range of recreational interests. Bear Creek Lake Located in Cumberland, Bear Creek Lake offers quiet hikes with water views. Enjoy a view of the dam and stroll along the edge of the lake. The day-use area features an unguarded swimming beach, with a playground and picnic pavilion nearby. Twin Lakes Situated in Green Bay, Twin Lakes offers activities for those who enjoy both the water and the trails. In the off-season, hikers are likely to have the woods to themselves, allowing them to savor the rare experience of true solitude. The trails feature several water crossings, a canoe launch, a dam and water views almost the entire route. Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Those interested in Civil War history might find Sailor’s Creek Battlefield in Rice particularly enjoyable. The short hiking trails feature interpretative signs, and the visitor’s center details information about battles fought in the area. Visitors can also arrange to tour the Overton-Hillsman house, used as a field hospital during the Civil War. FAMILY-FRIENDLY ADVENTURING High Bridge Not far from the parks described previously, High Bridge Trail in Green Bay offers multiple access points along its 31-mile trail. The flat terrain and wide trail provide an excellent option for families looking for a place to ride their bikes together, or those just looking for a low-intensity hike, bike ride or horseback ride. In addition to marveling at the park’s namesake bridge, visitors can savor views of rolling farmland and admire the old railway poles, with glass conductors still perched atop many, that line sections of the trail. MOUNTAIN BIKING AND HORSEBACK RIDING Pocahontas State Park Located in Chesterfield, Pocahontas features an ever-expanding and versatile trail system for mountain biking. The park offers dozens of trails of varying distances and difficulty levels. Beginners can build their skills on rolling, single-track trails that snake through the woods, while more experienced riders are likely to enjoy the pump track, or more technical trails featuring water crossings and natural obstacles. Another win: One-way trails mean speeding mountain bikers need not worry about colliding with each other. Bear Creek Lake In addition to its stellar bike trails, Pocahontas offers the Bright Hope Horse Complex, where restrooms, picnic tables, a sizable parking lot, equine exercise rings and access to the park’s multi-use trails are available for equestrians. DAY-LONG HIKING Holliday Lake Enjoy a secluded, day-long excursion in Appomattox at Holliday Lake. The park’s longest trail, Lakeshore, consists of a 6.7-mile loop around the lake. Start out at an old cemetery on the water’s edge, and continue on to enjoy views of the lake; scattered picnic tables and lookouts; the impressive, 30-foot dam; several charming water crossings and astoundingly various terrain. In addition, Lakeshore Trail offers access to trails that wander outside the park’s limits, through the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. Westmoreland BEACHCOMBING Those who enjoy searching for treasure in the sand will find a lot to love at one of the many state parks featuring a Fossil Beach. Twin Lakes water crossing York River The Fossil Beach at York River in Williamsburg offers visitors a chance to sift through the remains of ancient life forms, and permits them to take one fossil home from the beach. For a more structured experience, join one of the park’s scheduled Fossil Frenzy Hikes or Fossil Finds events. Pocahontas State Park PHOTO COURTESY GREATRUNS.COM Westmoreland At Westmoreland in Montross, visitors can stop in the Discovery Center to see fossils on display, as well as enjoy their own finds at the Fossil Beach, a 1-mile hike from the parking area. Scouring the sand for sharks’ teeth and fossils, visitors will also enjoy the cliffs that border the beach, the open waters of the Potomac River and the creek that flows through the beach to wider water. Sailor’s Creek Battlefield PHOTO COURTESY ALLTRAILS.COM Caledon Located in King George, Caledon offers not only its own Fossil Beach, but also the opportunity to participate in a Fossil Find or a unique Kayak Tour Fossil Find, a guided event that allows participants to kayak to parts of the shoreline inaccessible by foot. Visitors can find fossilized sharks’ teeth and shells, as well as crocodile teeth. Holliday Lake Chippokes Plantation Littered with bald cypress trees and cypress knees, the beach at Chippokes Plantation in Surry is whimsical and other-worldly. Visitors can comb the beach on their own or join a scheduled FossilWalk. The beach seems to offer as many fossils as it does grains of sand, including the state fossil of Virginia: chesapecten jeffersonius. York River DOG-FRIENDLY BEACHES First Landing The most-visited Virginia State Park, First Landing, is located in Virginia Beach and features a dog-friendly beach.Whether visitors and their dogs visit during the off-season or the peak of summer tourist season, they can enjoy the beach together, provided their dogs are leashed when not in the water. The park’s waters are good for unguarded swimming, wading, boating, standup paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing, not to mention some fetch or tug-of-war. Chippokes Plantation, Caledon DAY AT THE BEACH Kiptopeke Situated on the Eastern Shore in Cape Charles, Kiptopeke offers two unguarded swimming options: the half-mile long northern swim beach (strictly for swimming) and the south beach, where leashed dogs, swimming, boating, fishing and crabbing are permitted. In addition to spending time on the sand and in the water, visitors can hike the trails for a different perspective of the beach: vast, breathtaking, cliff’s-edge views reminiscent of the West Coast. Kiptopeke Whether in the eastern, western, northern, southern or central part of the state, Virginia’s state parks offer a myriad of recreational activities. No one is ever very far from the next adventure.