FORT LEE, Va. (June 29, 2017) -- Individuals who treasure the outdoors have many options at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County like boating, biking, hiking, swimming, camping, hunting, fishing and a load of other activities.
“We are the largest Virginia state park with over 8,000 acres of green space and 64- plus miles of trails for all skill levels,” said Bryce Wilk, assistant park manager. “We also have been the most-visited state park in Virginia for the past two years.”
Just about 25 miles from Fort Lee, Pocahontas also offers picnicking, nature and history programs, concerts in a 2,000-seat amphitheater and two dining halls that may be rented for meetings, weddings and special events. Rustic group facilities with primitive overnight cabins (bunkhouses) also are available seasonally for larger groups. The facility offers 5.5 miles of trails for hiking only including a paved spillway trail for those with disabilities.
“We are the big green spot in the middle of Chesterfield County. It allows people to escape to a real green space where they can get ‘lost in the woods,’” said Wilk. “You can be in a safe environment while getting immersed in nature.”
The park offers a host of trails that bring in many visitors – mountain bike trails, hiking trails and equestrian trails. There are no horse at the park, but visitors can bring their own.
Wilk noted, “Inside the park we have three bodies of water that allow several forms of recreation – fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and paddle boating. Swift Creek Lake, covering 224 acres, is great for boaters since it’s approximately two miles in length.”
People can rent or bring their own boats. The park does not permit gasoline-powered boats. Electric-powered boats are permitted.
“We have good fishing,” Wilk said. “This includes catfish and largemouth bass.”
The park rents paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and rowboats through Labor Day.
“There also are a large variety of species of animals here including white-tailed deer, beavers, turkeys and great blue herons. You name it, we have it here. You also might see an occasional bald eagle flying overhead.”
A big draw in the hot summer is the Aquatic Center, which has a toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool and two, two-story tubular water slides. Nearby are picnic tables and shelters.
“We also have a nature center with snakes and turtles. Our staff conducts different programs six days a week outside the center such as archery, geocaching, special hikes, scavenger hunts, wagon rides, nature bingo and more. “There also is a program called “Surviving Pocahontas.”
Wilk encourages hikers to try Big Poplar, its newest hiking-only trail. “It has our largest-known tree in the park as one of the attractions on this trail. The trip starts at the Nature Center and is .7 miles long. During the excursion, hikers will have a great view at an overlook near Swift Creek. There are some stone steps along the trail that have been built by volunteers. It gives people a good flavor of everything we have here.”
The park offers a 5K running series every Wednesday in August starting Aug. 5, 7 p.m. The staff records the times of runners.
Wilk encourages visitors to try renting a Yurt, which is large enough to sleep three or four. Yurts are a cross between a tent and a cabin. Pocahontas has four units in the main campground. Each has a large wooden deck with patio tables, a picnic table and a fire ring with cooking grate. Reservations are required.
“They have been a pretty big hit,” he said. “People don’t have to lug a tent around and set it up. They have furniture in them too.”
Wilk said, “Our amphitheater hosts Pocahontas Premieres, which are quite nice on a summer night. It offers periodic concerts and family friendly entertainment.”
Upcoming events include:
• Dixie Road Bluegrass Band – July 8, 7 p.m.
• Movie Under the Stars, “Yogi Bear” – July 29, 8:30 p.m.
• “A Comedy of Errors,” performed by The Traveling Players Ensemble’s summer camp, Aug. 9, 7 p.m.
• Appetite for Destruction, a hard rock tribute band – Aug. 12, 7 p.m.
• Richmond Jazz Band – Sept. 3, 7 p.m.
Visitors also should stop by the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, dedicated to Depression-era workers who helped build the state park system. It is one of a handful in the nation.
“We want people to come out and feel comfortable in our natural environment. We do have beautiful things right in peoples’ backyards.”
For information on the park including fees, call (804) 796-4255.