James River State Park

James River State Park is in Gladstone, Virginia. It is a two hour drive from Richmond, a three hour drive from Northern Virginia and a four hour drive northwest from Virginia Beach.

People who enjoy outdoor activities will appreciate this park. The outdoor activities here include camping, hiking, biking, riding, fishing, boating, hunting and picnicking.

There are three campgrounds in the park and reservations are recommended. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-933-7275. Campers will need to have their reservation number or a confirmation letter when they check in. Canoe Landing and Branch Pond are open all year round. These campgrounds are for tents only and the conditions are primitive. Restrooms are primitive and there is no drinking water available. Branch Pond has seven sites and is in a wooded area. Canoe Landing is on the river and has 13 sites. Red Oak Campground is open from March 1 until the first Monday in December. It is about one and a half miles from the primitive campgrounds. This campground has hookups for water and electricity. Each site here has an electric pedestal. RVs, tents and pop-ups can be accommodated if they are 40 feet or less. The bathhouse has hot showers, laundry facilities and a sink for washing dishes. Campers are charged an overnight fee for pets. Pets must stay inside at night and should be kept on a leash when outside. The park also has furnished lodges and cabins with fully equipped kitchens.

There are trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding in the park. Some trails are multi-use. The hiking trails in the park are different lengths and levels of difficulty. The Branch Trail is moderately difficult. It is less than four miles long and goes through wooded hills on the west edge of the park. Some parts of this trail are irregular and very steep. The Branch Pond Loop Trail is a difficult trail that joins the Branch Trail. Hikers who want an easy trail will appreciate the Green Hill Pond Loop Trail. This trail goes around Green Hill Pond. It is near one of the picnic shelters. The River Trail is another easy hiking trail. It is about two and a half miles long. The Tye River Outlook can be reached by a .11 mile trail that takes hikers through a steep area.

The biking trails vary in difficulty and terrain. The Dixon Trail is moderately difficult and is less than a mile long. It goes on a bridge over the river and makes some steep climbs. The Taylor Trail will take bicyclists through the woods.

Horseback trails offer different scenery. The Taylor Pond Loop Trail loops around Taylor Pond. The River Trail goes through wetland areas. Riders must bring their own horses.

Fishing is available to those who have valid state fishing licenses. These can be obtained at the park. Catfish and bass can be caught in the park. Those who desire sedate fishing can fish in one of the park’s three freshwater ponds.

Canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the park. Shuttles are available for boaters who have their own equipment for boating. The canoe livery service is open every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. These services are available on weekends between the middle of April and Memorial Day. The livery services are also open on weekends between Labor Day and the middle of October. Inner tubes can be rented for use between the two landings in the park. Dixon Landing has a trailer boat launch. Boaters can launch canoes in the Canoe Landing area.

Reservation hunts are available at the park. Hunters can reserve the day they want. Hunter education is required to participate in these hunts.

The park has seven picnic areas and six picnic shelters. The shelters are available for rent.

Educational programs are hosted at the park during the school year. The Nature Center at the park has some activities that are hands-on. Special events are held for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Information about the park can be found online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/jam.shtml. The park’s address is James River State Park, 751 Park Road, Gladstone, VA 24553. The phone number is (434) 933-4355.