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Useful Trail News

Covid-19 and Virginia State Parks

Last Updated: May 27, 2020

Virginia State Parks are open.

Update May 27: Cabins are scheduled to open June 11. Important operational changes have been implemented. Please go to Covid-19 Cabin Updates for details.

Latest Updates
Virginia State Parks plans a gradual reopening of some facilities as the commonwealth slowly eases public health restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Statewide and park-specific operational plans have been developed to comply with group size limitations and social distancing requirements. Protocols are in place to look after the safety of all guests and staff.

Anyone planning to visit a park for the remainder of spring and through summer should anticipate changes to normal park operations. Some facilities remain closed, and other amenities will not be available as outlined below.

Park guests are encouraged to recreate at parks close to home. Strict social distancing requirements will remain in place. Group sizes are limited to 10 people. Guests must keep at least 6 feet apart from other guests. Anyone who is sick or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home.

State parks in Northern Virginia could be impacted differently because of delayed reopening rules.

Following is a list of state park amenities and status as of May 14. This page will be updated as changes are made. Please check back often.

Open
Trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use
Tidal beaches (exercising, swimming and fishing - see below)
Fishing piers
Boat ramps
Picnic tables and grills (open for groups fewer than 10)
Opening for Memorial Day weekend
Restrooms
Campgrounds (except at Twin Lakes State Park, where the septic system is being repaired)
Camping cabins and yurts
Boat and bike rentals (will vary by park)
Chairlift at Natural Tunnel State Park (limited schedule)
Closed through Summer 2020
Swimming pools (includes the Splash Spray Ground at Occoneechee State Park)
Horse livery at New River Trail State Park
Closed until further notice
Picnic shelters
Playgrounds
Swimming beaches (see below)
Visitor centers
Meeting facilities
Ranger-led programs (self-guided programs are available)
Shuttle services (includes the shuttle at Natural Bridge State Park)
Guidelines for park visits:
Know before you go. Check the website of the park you intend to visit for any alerts. Have an alternate plan in case the park is at capacity when you arrive.
Stay close to home. If you’re sick with any ailment, stay home.
Guests should bring their own soap and hand sanitizer to use during visits.
Groups and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and these restrictions will be enforced by park staff.
Bring face coverings. Face coverings are required in all park facilities and in outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible.
Respect social distance. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times. While on trails, alert others of your presence and step aside to let others pass at a safe distance.
Play it safe. Choose lower-risk activities. Injuring yourself puts medical providers at risk and places unnecessary strain on medical resources.
Parking fees remain in place. If entrance contact stations are not staffed, self-pay is available, and we recommend you bring cash or check for the daily parking fees (PDF).
Beaches
 

As outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Five (PDF), all public beaches (i.e., sandy beach located on a tidal shoreline) as defined in § 10.1-705 of the Code of Virginia are closed except for exercising and fishing. The Virginia state park beaches impacted by this order include the following parks: Belle Isle, Caledon, Chippokes Plantation, False Cape, Kiptopeke, Leesylvania, Mason Neck, Westmoreland, Widewater and York River. In addition, the following parks’ inland beaches are closed: Bear Creek Lake, Claytor Lake, Douthat, Fairy Stone, Holliday Lake, Hungry Mother, Lake Anna, Smith Mountain Lake and Twin Lakes state parks. This decision was made for the safety of our park staff and visitors due to the difficulty in maintaining strict social distancing at these locations. 

Programs and Events
All in-person programs and events scheduled through June 10 are canceled.

Virginia State Park staff will not provide shuttle service for recreation activities. If you intend to participate in activities that have different starting and ending locations, you will want to prepare to have transportation available at your start and end points.

Camping, Cabins and other accommodations
Campgrounds for tent and RV camping, camping cabins and yurts are open. All other overnight facilities are currently closed. Please see the reservation update page for more details.

Reservations
If you have concerns or questions about future reservations, please call our Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wait times may be long due to high call volume.

See more information about reservation cancellations.

Any private event occurring between now and June 10, and estimating more than 10 people in attendance, must be canceled per the Governor’s guidance. A full refund will be provided.

What You Can Do
Keep in mind that you are recreating in a public facility. While we are making increased efforts toward sanitation, each surface is only as clean as the last person who touched it. Therefore, you should take steps to protect your health by following these guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control:


Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
Avoid touching your face.
If you’re sick with any ailment, stay home. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
When in public, maintain a social distance of at least six feet.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow.
Clean surfaces you touch regularly.
 

Resources
Looking for more information about the coronavirus? Here are a few resources to help:

Governor Northam's Updates
Centers for Disease Control
Virginia Department of Health

January 11, 2020 Petersburg National Battlefield

The section of Poor Creek Trail along Colquitt’s Salient has been closed for the nesting season of the bald eagles. Due to the nest being in close proximity to the trail, please adhere to the trail closure and do not cross or go around the barriers. This is a very sensitive time for the eagles and continuous human disturbance may lead to nest abandonment. Thank you for adhering to the trail closure and helping protect our bald eagles.

The first observation of the nesting pair in the park was back in 2003. Park staff have begun to monitor and await to see signs of the adults incubating eggs. Stay tuned for exciting updates on our majestic bald eagles.

December 2, 2019 SEAT Meeting

Guest Speaker: Mike Barber-Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for Chesapeake spoke about the availability of funds for improvement projects at the city parks over the next few years. He emphasized the need for better communication between the horse community and the department. Mike suggested creating a committee and/or having folks from the horse community serve on the Chesapeake Parks, Recreation, and Tourism advisory board, which meets the first Thursday of each month. Currently there are several improvement projects in the works at Northwest River Park, such as; the paving of the gravel road from the ranger station to the river, building a new ranger station and removing the old buildings, and repairing the Marjorie Rein Memorial walkway. The future Heritage Park has funds available also, but needs to have input from the horse community on each phase of development. The Dismal Swamp trail was mentioned as a concern for riding due to the overgrowth of scrubs and branches along the edge of the road forcing the horses to walk on the asphalt. Mike encouraged us to call the main contact number at 757-382-6411 with any concerns such as this one. Kevin Kaul-Parks Manager, Lauren- Northwest River Park, and Ana Elezovic-Planner II were also in attendance from the city.

Please let the city know that we would like to see some of the money allocated to go to improvements to the equestrian areas and equestrian trails. The more people that voice their support or concerns for Northwest River Park, Heritage Park, and Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, the better the chances are of seeing improvements.

You can email your comments to;

Chesapeake Parks & Rec. at ContactPRT@cityofchesapeake.net 

Chesapeake’s City Manager at citymanager@cityofchesapeake.net 

Chesapeake’s City Council at council@cityofchesapeake.net