Two people walk at Pocahontas State Park

Adventures at Pocahontas State Park

Photo: Virginia Dept. of Conservation & Recreation

Explore singletrack, launch a paddling trip, or pick from numerous hikes at Virginia’s largest state park, packed with camp and activity options galore.

Looking for a quick outdoor escape? Built on farmland and forest by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938, Pocahontas State Park delivers. Virginia’s largest (and oldest) state park is an outdoor playground with 90 miles of trails and three lakes across 7,925 acres. Located just 20 minutes southwest of Richmond in Chesterfield, Va., it offers paddlers with an ideal location to launch scenic flatwater tours, plus hiking and biking trails, with everything from nature programs and ample picnic areas to a variety of lodging options on-site (camping, cabins, yurts and lodges). Hit it for an afternoon or multi-day outing to take full advantage of its amenities.  


The National Park Service originally operated the park as a recreation area for soldiers during World War II and then donated it to Virginia State Parks in 1946. Fun fact: A high school student won a local contest to name the park after Pocahontas, who (as the legend goes) saved Capt. John Smith’s life in 1608 when the storied colonist-explorer  was held captive by the Powhatan Confederacy, then ruled by her father, Chief Powhatan. It’s a fitting moniker as the area encompassing the state park formed a border between the Algonquin-speaking Appomattox of the Powhatan Confederacy and the Sioux-speaking Monacan people. 

Outdoor Activities 

Fishing and paddling 

Three lakes offer options galore for paddling and fishing. Picks for dipping a blade or angling include 225-acre Swift Creek Lake and 24-acre Beaver Lake, with paddling available at 7-acre Camp 7 Lake. All also allow electric motors. Anglers need a valid Virginia fishing license (available online or at a Public Lands location). For paddlers, the park rents paddleboats, standup paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Thursday through Sunday. 

Biking and hiking 

Pocahontas State Park has more than 90 miles of trails for both hikers and bikers of all skill levels—so bring your boots, helmets and more to explore everything it has to offer. Ten miles of trails are dedicated solely for hiking only, including a paved spillway for those with disabilities. With new purpose-built singletrack being built every year, Pocahontas has more than 44 miles of directional mountain bike trails, including traditional singletrack, machine-built flow and handcycle-friendly trails. The trails make up three major trail systems: Morgan, Swift Creek and Lakeview. Along with the James River Parks Systems trails, they comprise the IMBA bronze-level Richmond Regional Ride Center. Add 33 miles of forest roads for bikers and equestrians (horseback riders can access 19 miles of forest roads and 14 miles of multi-use trail, including Bright Hope, Otter Lick and Poorhouse) and there’s no shortage of ways to take it all in. More info: See a trail guide to the region with trail status updates, plus this interactive map to the park.  

Two kayakers paddle with a dog Photo: Virginia Dept. of Conservation & Recreation


The park’s Aquatic Recreation Center is open daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, complete with toddler pool, fountain wet deck, leisure pools, water slides and an activity pool. The park also has three lakes for cooling off with a plunge.  


Pocahontas offers managed hunt opportunities in November and December each year by reservation only. A special archery hunt season by permit is available from early October through December during the state’s early and late archery seasons (open in only select areas, and permit required from the park office).  

Nature and history programs 

Want to add some knowledge to your visit? The park offers everything from guided nature hikes and campfire programs to night hikes and children's programs. And its environmental education field trips and outreach programs align with the state’s public school standards of learning curricula. It also offers recreational and environmental education outreach programs for private groups, including scouts, youth groups, and nature clubs. Bonus: A 2,000-seat amphitheater hosts family-friendly entertainment. History nugget: The park’s CCC Museum pays tribute to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which put unemployed young men to work in forests and parks, including Pocahontas, across the country during the Great Depression. 

Overnight Accommodations 

Go ahead and stay the night. The park has a lodge, cabins, campsites and yurts, all of which are available year-round.  

Cabins and lodges

You can rent one of four three-bedroom cabins as well as one six-bedroom lodge, with a six-night minimum stay between Memorial Day and Labor Day, or a two-night minimum the rest of the year. 


Stay in one of four yurts tucked into a wooded area. Each circular structure (a cross between a tent and a cabin) has a large deck, patio tables, picnic table and fire ring—available from the first Friday in March to the first Sunday of December. 

Camping Cabins/Camping

The park also has six camp cabins that sleep four people maximum that are available year-round, as well as numerous campsites with electric and water hookups, grills, picnic tables and lantern holders, with centrally located restrooms and showers.  

More Info

The park is easily accessible from Interstate 95, state Routes 288 and 360 and open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk:


All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.