Join us over the next week to discover the newest public access sites your state has to offer.

If you’re looking to get out and play on the water this summer, Virginia’s many public spots to fish, swim, boat and recreate are a great start. In 2017, Chesapeake Bay Program partners added seven new sites where you can enjoy the water in Virginia. Learn a little more about them below.

Belle Isle State Park (Lancaster County)

Belle Isle State Park stretches for seven miles along the Rappahannock River and includes access to Mulberry and Deep creeks. With the addition of a new paddle craft launch, visitors can explore eight distinct types of wetlands as well as farmlands and upland forests. The park allows for hiking, camping, horseback riding, biking, canoeing and kayaking.

Carrolton Nike Park (Isle of Wight County)

Carrolton Nike Park sits on the former location of the Nike Ajax Missile Site, which was operational during the Cold War. Visitors have access to more than 100 acres of recreational area consisting of softball and soccer fields; basketball, volleyball and tennis courts; picnic spots; playgrounds; and bike trails. The park now allows for paddle craft access with a new launch on Jones Creek.

Dutch Gap (Chesterfield County)

The Dutch Gap Conservation Area is 810 acres of woods, wetlands and wildlife bordering the James River. Visitors now have the added benefit of a new boardwalk for hiking and viewing, as well as a paddle craft launch. The Audubon Society names Dutch Gap one of the top birding sites in Virginia. Home to a large heron rookery, it attracts bald eagles and other hard-to-find species.

Hull Springs Farm (Westmoreland County)

Hull Springs Farm is a 662-acre farm that lies between two tributaries of the Potomac River. It is the property of Longwood University, containing 160 acres of agricultural fields and more than 400 acres of forest. It is used as a demonstration site for the development, application and studying of best management practices. Visitors can now use the farm to access paddle-up campsites.

LaValette Avenue Site (Norfolk County)

Visitors can now access the Lafayette River from a new paddle craft launch on LaValette Avenue next to the Virginia Zoo. It offers a floating dock that is ADA accessible with a roll-in kayak launch.

T. Potterfield Memorial Bridge (Richmond City)

The T. Potterfield Memorial Bridge connects Brown’s Island and Manchester in the city of Richmond, allowing for pedestrian and cyclist access. Sitting on top of a former hydroelectric dam about 20 feet above the James River, the bridge provides incredible views of the river, along with panoramic views of downtown.

Tuckahoe Creek Park (Henrico County)

ADA-accessible boardwalks are now available for visitors to stroll along Tuckahoe Creek and view the many scenic overlooks. Nature trails and fishing access is also available.

There are now 1,292 public access sites across the Chesapeake Bay watershed that allow for boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities, 357 of which are in Virginia. Public access sites are maintained by a variety of partners, including local, state and federal agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations. That’s why it is vital to establish strong partnerships and initiatives among all partners in order to provide more opportunities to access the water.

Increasing public access to open space and waterways creates a shared sense of responsibility to protect these important natural environments. Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, our partners have committed to increasing public access as part of a larger effort to engage communities in our conservation work. The number of public access sites in the watershed is on track to reach 1,439 by 2025. Since tracking began in 2010, our partners have opened 153 sites, meeting 51 percent of our goal to open 300 new sites over the next decade.

Find a public access site near you.



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