Welcome to Virginia’s newest additions – Clinch River, Machicomoco and Seven Bends state parks, which brings our total to 41 Virginia State Parks, along with access to the Clinch River, York and Shenandoah rivers. Each park brings a wealth of outdoor activities and fun, as well as unique stories and significant histories of the lands and regions.
Clinch River State Park is Virginia’s first blueway state park. It consists of several smaller (250-400 acres) anchor properties connected by multiple canoe/kayak access points along a 100- mile stretch of the Clinch River. Some of the access points are part of the state park, while other partner agencies and localities own additional launch access points.
The Clinch River’s ecological diversity is part of why it has been designated as a Virginia Scenic River. The scenic river program helps bring awareness to rivers and streams that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics of statewide significance. The Nature Conservancy has deemed the Clinch as “One of the Last, Great Places.”
A great place to fish and boat, the Clinch flows some 135 miles through Southwest Virginia and according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, the Clinch River contains more fish species than any other river in Virginia. The Artrip boat launch allows access to the river, and the Sugar Hill Unit offers access to bank fishing from Riverside Trail.
The Sugar Hill Unit in St. Paul has 8 miles of trails with hiking and biking on the Sugar Hill Loop trail. The other five trails are just for hiking. The views are absolutely spectacular, and the property even contains remnants of an 18th-century French settlement. How’s that for a unique story?
Please note that Clinch River State Park is still under development and currently has no overnight accomodations.
Located in the southern part of Gloucester County along the York River is the 645-acre Machicomoco State Park. The park is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the Virginia Indian tribes’ histories and their futures, their use of the region’s natural resources, and their significance within the larger history of the commonwealth and, ultimately, the nation.
The park’s goal is to present this information to the public while providing recreational opportunities that allow visitors to interact with these resources in a sustainable and enjoyable manner. An open-air interpretive pavilion provides information on the culture, landscape and movement of Virginia Indians through displays and a walking path in the landscape.
A paved trail follows along the main park road for walking or bike riding, and there are also wooded trails to explore. A footpath of gravel, oyster shells and mowed grass can be found at the interpretive area and totals 0.7 of a mile.
Camping is available at Machicomoco, including sites for vehicle camping and hike-in tent sites. There are three overnight yurts that are perfect for the fall, so make sure to book now. Other amenities include two picnic shelters, a car-top boat launch pier with an accessible boat entry structure, and a set of small floating docks on Timberneck Creek for daytime boat tie-ups and fishing.
The sunrises and sunsets are remarkable and even more beautiful from the water. Venture onto Poplar Creek by kayak or canoe for fun, but also for the possibility of seeing dolphins swimming, turtles on the shore and eagles soaring overhead.
Seven Bends is a 1,066-acre day-use park located next to Woodstock and offers the largest river-adjacent recreation area on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The park is less than an hour’s drive from Shenandoah River State Park. Shenandoah River offers overnight accommodations, so it’s a great place to stay and venture to Seven Bends for the day.
There are 8 miles of hiking/biking trails. Just over 2 miles of trail lie along the “seven bends” of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The remaining trails take you on the western slope of Powell Mountain, part of the Massanutten Mountain Range. Talus Trail connects visitors to the Massanutten Trail in the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest.
The section of river at the park is relatively small and shallow, making it accessible for wade angling and great for a pleasant float. Car-top boat launches suitable for canoes and kayaks are located at both access sites of Seven Bends State Park. The two launches are approximately 3 river miles apart and generally take one to two hours to float depending on conditions.
So if you are up for a unique adventure, visit one of our three new Virginia State Parks. Whether you like to hike, bike, fish, float or boat we have you covered. By the way, the other 38 parks are pretty great too!
Cover photo: Seven Bends State Park, photo courtesy of DCR