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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Discover Powhatan State Park: A Treasure on the James

Jun 30, 2014 02:13PM ● By Kristina McCullough

Ah, summer–a season that starts with such promise of vacations and free-time, then tends to devolve into a string of fluorescent-lit hours in a cubicle or days caged with bored children at home.

Well, Mother Nature has the cure. Change your pace, change your scenery and visit Virginia’s award-winning park system’s newest addition: Powhatan State Park (SP). Opened last July, Powhatan SP hosts seven miles of trails that wind through 1,500 acres of fields, forests and rare wetlands, as well as a serene 2.5-mile frontage on a pristine section of the James River. 

To reclaim your summer’s promise, escape for a day of rest and relaxation in this bite-sized treasure on the James. Take a morning walk through fields of nodding summer wildflowers dotted with bluebird boxes. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the river. Rent a shelter for a large family gathering or even spread out a blanket on the grass at the playground. As the day warms up, you can lounge in the deep shade of whispering trees and let the hum of bees and lilting birdcalls lull you back to summer’s slower pace.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous escape, plan a day on the water, using Powhatan SP as the start point for a leisurely paddle down-river or choose it as your final destination, camping the night at the park’s canoe-in tent sites. 

If new information is what you crave, you can enjoy a variety of nature and cultural programs offered for both children and adults, or simply explore Mother Nature on your own. There’s a long list of interesting plants and animals to seek out in the park, including bald eagles, spotted salamanders, and if you are lucky, the resident all-white red-tailed hawk. 

A visit to Powhatan SP is a charming escape to the outdoors that will continue to evolve over the next few years as the park adds additional trails, campsites and an interpretive center. Maybe your summer retreat becomes the start of a healthy habit of going where the wild things are. After all, in the words of John Muir:

“Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

For more information about all of Virginia’s State Parks, call 804-933-PARK or visit

Kristina McCullough is a Powhatan resident, Master Naturalist and sales & marketing director of Natural Awakenings Richmond.