Just 20 miles from Richmond, Pocahontas offers boating, picnicking, camping, camping cabins, hiking, and nature and history programs. The Aquatic Center, which has a toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool and two tubular water slides, offers seasonal water-based activities for the entire family. Rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks, paddleboards and canoes may be rented at the boathouse on the 225-acre Swift Creek Lake during the summer. Two of the park's three lakes offer fishing for crappie, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, warmouth bass, bluegill and catfish. The park has more than 80 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, dedicated to the Depression-era workers who helped build the state park system, is one of a handful in the nation. The park's two dining halls may be rented for meetings and events. Group facilities with primitive overnight cabins (bunkhouses) also are available.
All campsites have electric and water hookups (no sewer), grills, picnic tables and lantern holders. There are centrally located restrooms with hot showers. Check-in is 4 p.m. and checkout is 1 p.m. Campsite availability cannot be guaranteed until 4 p.m., but campers may arrive early to enjoy the park until the site is ready. Half the sites may be specifically reserved; the rest are assigned upon arrival.
Swimming and boat launching are free for overnight guests. Refunds and rainchecks will not be given should swimming be unavailable for reasons beyond the park staff's control.
All sites accept 20 and 30-amp current; sites 66 through 129 accept 50-amp.
Firewood is available for sale in the campground or park office.
Two vehicles and the camping unit are allowed at each campsite. Extra vehicles must park in overflow parking and pay the daily parking fee.
Each campsite has a steel fire ring that can be used for cooking and campfires.
Visitors to overnight guests must leave the park by 10 p.m. and are required to pay the daily parking fee.
Total sites of each type: E/W, 59; E/W Site-Specific, 52; Buddy, 5
E/W - Electric and water hookups; RVs up to 40 feet, bathhouse with hot showers. Tents must fit on a 20' x 20' tent pad. Guests needing 50-amp service should consider site-specific sites in the 66-129 loop.
E/W Site-Specific - Electric and water hookups; bathhouse with hot showers. Various equipment sizes depending on site choice.
Buddy - Buddy site for a maximum of 18 people; electric and water group site; three campsites in each buddy site; tents, pop-ups and RVs up to 50 feet; tents must fit on 20' x 20' tent pad. The cancellation fee for buddy sites is higher; the park's five buddy sites are apart from each other.
Other park facilities
Algonquian Ecology Camp and Swift Creek Camp (Camp 3) - Built by the CCC, these two camps offer accommodations for large groups wanting to camp together. The camps have from two to four cabin groups and an activity-dining hall that has a kitchen. Each cabin group has four or five cabins (each of which can accommodate from four to six people), a leader's cabin that sleeps two, a shared restroom and shower facility, and a lodge. The cabins are rustic and have bunk beds and mattresses only, as well as a ceiling light. The lodge has a fireplace, a large charcoal grill, a covered outdoor pit grill, electricity, electric baseboard heat and a water spigot. Each building has screened windows and a campfire ring for cooking or a fire. Each cabin group accommodates up to 28 people. No additional camping units may be used in the area. Group cabin users are required to pay daily swimming fees, although at a reduced rate. Rental of these facilities includes parking. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance and are made through the park office.
Powhatan and Swift Creek dining halls - These buildings are part of each group camp and may be rented individually for meetings, wedding receptions and other gatherings. Each hall has a commercial grade kitchen with stainless steel sinks and countertops, a commercial grade refrigerator, a freezer, an ice machine and an oven. Tables and chairs for up to 125 people are included; each building has central heat and air-conditioning. The Swift Creek hall has a gas-log fireplace.
Bright Hope Equestrian Center - Located across Beach Road from the main park entrance, the area is perfect for shows and special events. The center consists of a gated and fenced 216 by 117 foot show ring with a crumb rubber and sand riding surface, a gated and fenced 161 by 83 foot warm-up ring with a crumb rubber and sand riding surface, picnic tables, charcoal grills and a restroom facility. The area is open from 8 a.m. until dark and has a horse trailer parking area that accommodates about 30 trailers as well as a separate parking area for about 30 vehicles without trailers. The center is available for reservation or can be used on a first-come, first-served basis when not reserved. There is a daily ring-use fee when not reserved. For more information or to make a reservation, call the Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275.
Heritage Amphitheater - First built by the CCC in 1938 and rebuilt in 1997, this outdoor venue holds up to 2,000. It's well-suited for concerts, stage performances and other large gatherings. The amphitheater has bench seating for up to 350, and additional spectators take seats on a gentle, grassy slope. The area has an elevated stage with backdrop, restrooms, walkways, a concession stand and a ticket booth. Vendors can set up booths and displays and have activities in an exhibit area at the top of the amphitheater hill.
Pocahontas has more than 64 miles of trail for users of all skill levels.
Hiking - A total of 5.5 miles of trail for only hiking, including a paved spillway trail for those with disabilities.
Biking - Pocahontas has more than 25 miles of directional mountain bike trails including traditional single-track, machine-built flow and hand-cycle friendly trails. These trails, along with the James River Parks Systems trails, comprise the IMBA bronze level Richmond Regional Ride Center.
Biking trails are being built here faster than new maps can be printed, but interactive maps of all the park’s bike trails are on the Trail Forks website.
Multi-Use - About 33 miles of forest roads and trails help comprise the trail system for combined use by hikers, bikers and equestrians. Standalone forest roads provide roughly 12 miles of additional opportunities.
The park's Aquatic Recreation Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7p.m. on weekends and holidays from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.
During summer months, enjoy a day of free swimming for each night of overnight camping for registered guests. However, it cannot be guaranteed should circumstances beyond the park's control require that swimming be closed. Prior to mid-June and after mid-August, the aquatic center may be operating with some features closed. Refunds for swimming to overnight guests will not be given under any circumstances.
During daylight hours only, enjoy fishing at Swift Creek and Beaver lakes. There’s a concrete boat ramp at Swift Creek Lake. Gas-powered boats are prohibited, but electric motors are allowed. A valid Virginia fishing license is required and may be purchased at the park office. When Swift Creek Lake has high water levels or is frozen over, the ramp may be closed.
The park rents paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and rowboats. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, rentals are available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Boats may be rented on weekends April 1 through Memorial Day weekend and from Labor Day through Oct. 31. Rentals vary by season and are weather-dependent. For more information about boat rentals or the lake’s status, contact the park office.
No horse rentals, but there are more than 13 miles of bridle trails within the park's multiple-use trail system. Bring your own horse. No overnight accommodations for horses at the park. You'll find full-service equine facilities, Brandywine Farms and Beaver Hollow Farm, nearby. Horses may disembark at the Bright Hope Horse Complex, the horse trailer parking lot on Beach Road or the Dvorak Forest Trail parking area. State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins report with each horse brought to the park.
Bright Hope Horse Complex: Complete with a large parking lot, picnic tables, a restroom and two exercise rings (50 by 100 feet and 20 by 60 feet), this day-use facility offers equestrians easy access to the Bright Hope Multi-use Trail. The rings may be used by individuals for training – daily fee required – or may be reserved for group use during daylight hours. Call 804-796-4255 to reserve the space.
The park offers managed hunt opportunities in November and December each year. These hunts are limited to a specific number of hunters through a reservation process. Reservations for these hunts typically are made available in late September.
Additionally a special hunt season by permit only is available some years. Details on these hunts are typically posted in mid-September. Contact the park office for information about the hunts and for a permit.
The park's seven shelters are available for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-PARK. There are two sizes, large and small. Shelters 2, 3, 4 and 5 are large; shelters 1, 6, and 7 are small. Parking fees are not included in shelter rental.
Shelter 1 (small): This shelter accommodates 30-40. It's adjacent to the playground and near a restroom. It's in a heavily wooded area, and there are many additional tables nearby under the trees. There is a 160-foot walk on a level gravel walkway to the parking lot, but there is no vehicle access directly at the shelter for unloading. The shelter has a large grill and is available for rent year-round. There are no electrical outlets or water spigots.
Shelter 2 (large): This shelter accommodates 70-80. It is the closest to the aqua center/pool complex, boating areas and restroom, and it overlooks Swift Creek Lake. There is a paved walkway to the restrooms and aqua center. Horseshoe pits and volleyball nets are just downhill of the shelter. (Patrons must bring their own equipment.) The area around this shelter is moderately shaded and grassy, and this shelter is available for rent year-round. There is a large grill for cooking, but no water spigot or electrical outlets are provided.
Shelter 3 (large): This shelter accommodates 70-80. It is about 400 feet from the aqua center/pool complex and boating areas. It overlooks a steep, fenced drop-off to Swift Creek Lake. It's near facilities but far enough away for peaceful, quiet picnicking. A large picnic grill is provided. The shelter is not well suited for seniors as there's a steep, 60-foot downhill walk from the parking lot. It is in a wooded, well-shaded area. The shelter has no water or electricity and no vehicle access for unloading.
Shelter 4 (large): This shelter accommodates 70-80, with no additional tables around the shelter. This shelter is not within easy walking distance to the aqua center/pool, playground, and boating areas. It has paved walkways and is only 10 feet from parking. It has universally accessible picnic tables, a large grill and a water spigot. The restroom is 120 feet away. This shelter is in a moderately wooded area; a small stream well suited for novice or young anglers is only a short walk away. There is no electricity.
Shelter 5 (large): This shelter accommodates 70-80. It is not within easy walking distance to the aqua center/pool, playground and boating areas. This shelter features a fireplace, water spigot, large grill and universally accessible picnic tables. It's in a moderately shaded area; a small stream well suited for novice or young anglers is only a short walk away. The shelter is 40 feet from parking and 160 feet from the restroom. There is no electricity. There is no vehicle access (for unloading) directly adjacent to this shelter.
Shelter 6 (small): This shelter accommodates 30-40 and there are no additional tables around the shelter. This shelter is not within easy walking distance to the aqua center/pool, playground and boating areas. This shelter does feature a water spigot, large grill and universally accessible picnic tables. The shelter is moderately shaded and a small stream that is well suited for novice or young anglers is nearby. The shelter is 100 feet from parking and 375 feet from the restroom. There are no electrical outlets. There is no vehicular access (for unloading) next to this shelter.
Shelter 7 (small): This shelter accommodates 30-40; there are no additional tables nearby. This shelter is not within easy walking distance to the aqua center/pool, playground and boating areas. There is a paved walkway 30 feet from the parking area. The restroom is about 350 feet away. This shelter is moderately shaded. The shelter has a water spigot, universally accessible tables and large grill. There is no electricity.