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Useful Trail News

Covid-19 and Virginia State Parks

Last Updated: March 31, 2021

As the commonwealth eases public health restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, Virginia State Parks reminds all guests to not let your guard down and do your part to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.

Protocols are in place to look after the safety of all guests and staff.

What's new
Effective April 1, updates resulting from the easing of restrictions as outlined in the fourth amended Executive Order 72 (PDF).

Groups and gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors are prohibited.
Maximum capacity for outdoor events like concerts and festivals will be determined by the parks on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the public gathering limits.
Check this page for closures at parks.

Anyone planning to visit a park should anticipate changes to normal park operations. Some facilities remain closed, and other amenities will not be available

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.
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 than 100 people are prohibited and these restrictions will be enforced by park staff.
Bring face coverings. Face coverings are required in all park facilities and where social distancing is not possible. Please remember to bring a face covering with you and to use it when needed. Visitors aged five and over are required to wear face coverings.
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.
Remember to recreate responsibly.
Trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use
Campgrounds (seasonal operation, check park website)
Cabins & Lodges (see COVID-19 Update for Cabins for important details).
Camping cabins, group sites, bunkhouses and yurts (seasonal operation, check park website)
Boat and bike rentals (will vary by park) (seasonal operation, check park website)
Beaches (seasonal operation, see this page for dates of operation and other important information)
Fishing piers
Boat ramps
Picnic tables and grills, picnic shelters and group sites (seasonal operation, check park website)
Visitor centers, gift shops and other buildings
Meeting facilities - maximum occupancy 50
Chairlift at Natural Tunnel State Park (limited schedule/seasonal operation)
Martin’s Station at Wilderness Road State Park (seasonal operation)
Closed for 2021 Season
Shuttle services (includes the shuttle at Natural Bridge State Park)
Pools and Aquatic Centers
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.

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

Peterburg National Battlefield
Last Updated February 9, 2021

Attention Equestrians! As you know, our maintenance staff has been hard at work repairing trails at the Eastern Front Unit. Because of their work, we are now able to OPEN UP THE MAJORITY OF TRAILS FOR HORSEBACK RIDERS!
As a reminder, the horse trailer parking is located behind our Administrative building located at 1539 Hickory Hill Road in Petersburg.

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 

Chesapeake’s City Manager at 

Chesapeake’s City Council at