I was recently at Powhatan with a large group of Scouts. We spread across 3-4 tent/RV sites that we used as a basecamp while we hiked during the day. It was gorgeous! The trails were well-marked and a good place for a shakedown. We crossed some water sources and hiked along the James River. We even passed a nice playground and picnic area where we stopped for lunch. Everything was really nice, one of the nicest and cleanest parks I’ve been to recently. The campgrounds were well-maintained with lots of facilities. I especially liked how spacious the sites were. I didn’t feel like we were on top of our neighbors. I definitely want to come back here again!
Powhatan State Park is a relatively new addition to the VA State Parks system; the park itself has only been open since 2003. The primitive, canoe-in campground opened with the park, and the loop with electric and water hookups opened in 2016.
When we stayed, we stayed in the canoe-in campground, although we hiked in the approximate 1/4 mile from the parking lot, rather than coming in by boat. This is a quiet, beautiful loop, with 8 sites, each with a picnic table and fire ring. There are composting toilets here and no potable water, so you will need to bring enough water for your trip or purification methods. Proper food storage is also essential back here; while this section of Virginia does not have the bear activity you’d find in the mountains, there are still raccoons and other wildlife who should not have access to human food. There are no bear boxes, so treat food storage as you would in the backcountry.
-Sites 7 and 8 are closes to the toilets, and back up to the woods leading towards the Turkey Trail; hikers are visible from site 8 and audible from site 7.
-Sites 4 and 5 back up to a very wooded area, and are further back from the gravel loop. Site 4 is closest to the boat ramp and is visible; site 5 is probably the most private in the loop.
-Sites 1,2, and 6 are in the center loop, but have more space between them than inner-loop sites usually have. Sites 1 and 2 are right against the River Trail however, so will have hikers walking directly past during the day.
The canoe-in loop sits against the James River; there is a rack to stow your canoe/kayak overnight, and a pay by honor-system pile of firewood. Due to the thick foliage there is no actual river-view during the warmer months, but it’s easily accessbile. When we stayed in early spring there were a lot of vines that served as “natural playground” for our kids; they used them as swings, monkey bars, and enjoyed getting their feet wet at the base of the canoe ramp, so much that they declined hiking or driving to the park’s man-made playground. This loop makes a great “trial run” site for anyone considering a future backcountry trip; the walk to the parking lot is short enough to make multiple trips if you need to, and you still have access to the park amenities if you don’t mind a walk/drive to get there.
River Bend Loop
The River Bend Loop has 29 sites with water and electric hook-ups, though very little privacy between sites. The surrounding trees give all but the first three sites decent shade and a wooded atmosphere, and this is a great loop for RVs or tent campers who enjoy being close to other sites. If you are looking for a feeling of isolation however, you would be better off minimizing your gear and walking to the primitive sites, or going to a different park altogether. The bathrooms here have electricity, flush toilets, and showers with hot water. Sites 1-14 are available for advance reservation, and sites 15-29 are first-come first-served. Site 25 offers the most privacy for tent campers, and it’s very large, but if the campground is at full occupancy all sites are going to have a crowded feel.
There are several hiking trails at this park ranging from very easy to moderate, and a couple of them are horse-friendly; our kids enjoy seeing horses on the trail with them, but be mindful if you have kids/dogs who may be afraid of the horses. The park also has a playground, picnic shelters, and ranger activities on the weekends, and there are three yurts available to book.
This is a very open, well-maintained park, and the camping options should appeal to a wide spectrum of campers, and my only reason for giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the lack of privacy in the drive-up campsites. It feels a lot like a hidden gem; the hookup campground fills up during warmer weather, but all of our visits here have been very quiet and peaceful. If you are looking for camping options near Richmond, I highly recommend this park!
Campsites are secluded and quiet. There are tons of hiking and biking trails as well as a river (the James) for boating/kayaking or tubing). The park contains a playground but very limited paved biking trails. The small amount of roads have hills and they will kick your butt, especially if you’re pulling a kiddo in a bike trailer. Super nice staff!
Our site didn’t have a breeze but had nice shade. Walking distance to showers/bathroom.
Not a big place, well it is in size but not the campground.
It's very family friendly
Staff were wonderful, huge place that is well kept, trails are trimmed back daily. Bathrooms are individual with a shower in each one. Lots of geocaching on grounds, fishing, hiking, boat launch, canoe racks, playground, a store with a nature center, and a Junior Ranger program for the kids.