Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beaver Lake Trail, Pocahontas State Park (VA)

On occasion, we like to stray over the border to see what's happening at the neighbor's house. I'm growing fond of Virginia, so last week, we paid a call to Pocahontas State Park, located just southwest of Richmond.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and donated to the state park system in 19461—a museum stands within the boundaries in its honor—the park has over seven thousand acres and two lakes. As we soon learned, popular activities in this largely forested recreation area include hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and picnicking. Since Churchill Downs is a tad bit too far, bridle trails are available for those seeking a place to let their horses stretch their legs.

Our first stop: a small building just inside the park that houses the office/visitors center/gift shop. There, we picked up a trail map and a brochure that served as park map and facilities guide, and asked questions. The first being, "Which is the most popular hike?" The answer? The 2.56 mile Beaver Lake Trail.

With good reason.

The trailhead for the Beaver Lake Trail, among others, is located near the CCC museum, a quaint log cabin surrounded by tall trees and at least one azalea. After strolling a short distance down the path, we spotted Beaver Lake, two canoes, and a floating L-shaped boardwalk.

Canada geese honked from a grassy area near the middle of the lake, and a chorus of frogs churged from lily pads nearby. My husband spotted bass, crappy, and blue gill in the brown water. A serene picture we couldn't completely capture with our Nikon.




And apparently, beavers do live there.


I had a sinking feeling, not related to the floating walkway, that this would be the best of the trail, but as we moved on, the park proved me wrong. A short distance from the boardwalk, water rushed over a man-made spillway, creating an attractive cascade. We stopped at various angles to enjoy the sight.




From this point, the trail branched into the woods, though we were never too far from the lake. We immediately noticed the absence of pine trees, so prevalent in eastern North Carolina ("and the idea occurs to me that it is no wonder we are called 'Tar Heels". -2nd Lieutenant William B. A. Lowrance [1863]2). Instead of pine straw, fallen leaves, brown and mottled, covered the forest floor. Sunlight streamed through the leafy branches of tulip poplars, sweet gum and more, giving the woods a green hue, like the atmosphere just after a rain.



We crossed several short bridges, and a boardwalk over wetlands where Jack-in-the-Pulpits were said to grow. There, and in various places along the trail, we spotted violets, spring beauties, blueberry bushes. Ferns covered several gully slopes. Delicate wildflowers decorated the foliage in the wetlands like baby breaths in a bride's hair.




Stopping as we did to explore all this, we managed to turn a two-and-a-half mile hike into a two-hour outing. Fortunately, we had water and snacks in our packs. Visitors, I recommend at least that and bug spray.

Pocahontas State Park is located at 10301 State Park Rd, Chesterfield. There is a small entry fee. Camping, equestrian and other fees apply. For more information on fees, the park, camping, swimming, or canoe rentals, go to www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/poc.shtml


1 http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/poc.shtml#specialfeatures
2. http://ncrec.dcr.state.nc.us/Cat/CatServer.asp?WCI=MainEp&WCE=CatV1&WCU=509.16

6 comments:

Jack said...

I might have to check that place out sometime when I am visiting my parents and have some time to kill

Kimberli said...

Thanks! The park was a pleasant surprise, for sure. If I added correctly, they have just over fifty miles of trails. Hikers have access to thirty-five miles of those trails, either dedicated and shared. Not shabby!

They rent kayaks/canoes on weekends during the spring and fall, and daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Definitely worth a return trip!

Julie said...

Just looking at that cascading water makes me feel so peaceful. What beautiful pictures!

P.S. - Thanks for your very kind comments. I'm still here...and gladly so...just a little slower than usual due to crazy life. It looks like you've been mighty busy, too! I always look forward to seeing what new places you have discovered.

Kimberli said...

Thanks, Julie! Nice, isn't it? It may not be too far from you, so I thought y'all might want to check it out.

On another subject, congrats again on winning the Carolina Women 2010 writing contest! Miss Fish is such a vivid story (as is all your work). You do an excellent job painting North Carolina in words, and I'm glad, and not at all surprised, that you won first place. Well done!

Diane Velikis said...

Awesome! I felt like I was there. I used to be a travel agent, you did an excellent job of describing Beaver Lake Trail. Kudos

Kimberli said...

Thanks, Diane! As you can tell, I enjoy talking about these places as much as I like visiting them. I'm glad you enjoyed the "trip"!

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