What to do in James River State Park

This peaceful new state park is one of Virginia's new four parks. It lies along the upper James River in Bent Creek offering riverside camping, picnicking and multi-use trails. A special feature of the park is the overlook above the James and Tye Rivers.

Despite the fact this park is still under development, it offers the visitor 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. The newly paved roads take the visitor to primitive campgrounds, picnic shelters, several small fishing ponds and the shores of the pristine James River. Vault, pit and full-service restrooms are scattered throughout the park. The park now has a variety of outdoor recreation available, much of which is enjoyed year-round due to Virginia's temperate climate.

Extensive trails were added summer 2000, with more planned. One of the more popular trails is Cabell Trail. This lengthy orange-blazed trail offers a wonderful overlook of the confluence of the James and Tye Rivers. Rolling hills frame this picturesque site, which is probably one of the loveliest views in central Virginia. Hikers, bikers and horseback riders may all reach this overlook where they will find large sturdy decking and plentiful benches allowing a lengthy gaze and even a picnic lunch.

History buffs will find five fenced cemeteries, some stones dating back to the 1700s. Also, enroute to picnic shelter #5, is a replica of a tobacco hauling bateau.

The closest convenience store is at the corner of U.S. 60 and Rt. 605 at Bent Creek.

Primitive year-round camping, picnicking, pond fishing and river fishing, along with canoeing and sightseeing are the major attractions of this new park. Amenities are being added each season.

As of summer 2000, the following enhancements have been made: Miles of multi-use trails, many with scenic vistas of the piedmont area are now available year-round. Six large handicapped accessible picnic shelters with family-size grills were added. Another new amenity is the handicapped accessible fishing pier at Green Hill Pond. A new lovely hillside amphitheater provides scenic views as the backdrop to the seasonally scheduled events. Seasonal bike rental is offered; $3 hour, $8 half day, and $15 full day. The new Visitor Center is presently housed in a modular unit but is teeming with wildlife exhibits. On display are a corn snake, rough green snake, garter snake, northern copperhead and even a timber rattler. Visitors will also see a variety of amphibians including the northern cricket frog, green frog, Fowler's toad and several salamanders, a box turtle and black widow spider. Rocks, shells, and fossils are available for hands-on experiences. A small nook has been set up for the observation of birdlife. The area has two comfortable seats with binoculars and guidebooks at arms reach. The Lynchburg Bird Club has established the outside area featuring a variety of well-stocked feeders. Just beyond the feeders, visitors will find the quarter-mile Bird Loop Trail meandering through an open field at woods edge. Lastly, established canoe / kayak launches were built to accommodate paddlesport enthusiasts, many of whom put-in at Bent Creek and enjoy the 2+ hour float to the park.

Future plans include a developed campground, a group horse camp, and a cultivated backyard garden environment surrounding the birdlife observation site.

James River State Park is located in central Virginia's Buckingham County. From U.S. 60 West, turn right onto Rt. 605 at the James River Bridge. Travel seven miles, then turn left onto Rt. 606.

Virginia generally has mild winters and warm humid summers. The eastern portion of the state has winter temperatures averaging above 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). The state's summer temperatures have little variation. The eastern portion of Virginia generally experiences temperatures above 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius). High humidity along with warm temperatures can be uncomfortable.

Rt. 1, Box 787
Gladstone, VA 24553

Phone: 434-933-4355

Email: pco@dcr.state.va.us
  • James River State Park Travel Q&A