dogs on leash
On the peaceful shore of beautiful John H. Kerr Reservoir, more commonly known as Buggs Island Lake, Occoneechee State Park is great for outdoor fun and relaxation. The park has more than 18 miles of trails that meander through the forest and along the lakes shore. The trails enable hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders to take in the beauty of Virginias Piedmont. Nature lovers can enjoy the wildlife attracted to habitat enhancement plots along the parks main road. The plots attract various birds, deer and woodland creatures. Guests can visit the park's visitor center to learn about the Native Americans who once lived in the area. The park takes its name from those natives. And a stroll on land that was once part of Occonneechee Plantation, complete with terrace gardens, helps visitors experience the park land as it was in the 19th century. Providing 24-hour access Virginias largest lake, three boat ramps open the door to 48,000 acres of fishing, boating and aquatic recreation. Eighty eight campsites are available for tent and RV campers. Some sites are right on the shoreline, providing easy fishing and boating access. The park also has 13 cabins that allow guests to enjoy the comforts of home as well as beautiful views of the lake. An equestrian campground with 11 sites and 11 covered horse stalls offers easy access to the parks trail system. Occoneechee also has picnic areas near the lake, a playground, boat rentals and a lakefront amphitheater.
I had a good run on on part of this trail. The trail does meander across one of the parks main roads. I was concerned that apart of the trail is next to a year round hunting area- and there are warning signs about this! I did not feel safe running on that part of the trail.
Park volunteer Jessica Lynn, a local high school student, and Matt Claybrook senior park ranger, have worked long and hard to bring about this self guided nature trail at Occoneechee State Park. While out hiking, have you ever wondered about what types of trees you are seeing along the way? Thanks to this new self-guided hike along the Tutelo Birding Trail, visitors to Occoneechee State Park can learn more about native trees in Southern Virginia. Even in winter when most of the trees are bare, there are still plenty of ways to identify the various species, such as leaves, bark, and seed pods. This is a pleasant wooded trail with a raised platform for bird watchers. The park rates this trail as intermediate but it is on the easy side of intermediate.
This is an interesting area of the park. It is the ruins of an old plantation and the Terrace Gardens. You will find remains of the ancient agriculture, especially trees. There are many Osage Orange trees in the area. An Osage Orange clunked me in the head. (Sometimes called horse apple or monkey ball) It was fall and they were dropping off the trees. I cannot imagine eating one of these nasty fruits although they say the seeds are edible and taste like sunflower seeds. I will take their word for it. The fruit is smelly and if you try to open it with your hands they will be stained for the next 50 hand washings.
Like so many trails in the park, it does not offer any great scenery. It parallels roads most of the way, which could be a good thing if you want to bail out early, there are many short connector trails to Panhandle Road. Most of it is gentle up and down with mixed hardwoods. The trail follows the Buggs Island Lake coastline for several miles but I do not remember ever actually seeing the lake from the trail. The trail is pleasant, but just way too long for the punch.
Don't be fooled by the sign that says "Beaver Pond 5.35 miles." That would take you to the beginning of the pond, but you would be out in the middle of the woods. The trail starts at the equestrian campground and goes on and on. It finally loops around Beaver Pond and heads back. It is jeep track, bouncing up and down a few feet all the way. You share the trail with horses, although I never saw any horses or people the whole way. There really was not much to see at the Beaver Pond or along the way. Got to be the most boring trail in the park.
You can pick it up from the plantation or off Occoneechee Park Road near Panhandle Road. Like most of the Park's trails it is a pleasant wooded trail with a little up and down but no serious grades. Be sure and check out the remains of the terrace gardens.
Like so many Virginia State Parks, the staff are wonderful. The park itself is nice, but with all that water why do none of the trails fallow coastlines. The trails are from easy to moderate and offer little in the way of scenery and variety. I did have an osage orange land on my head with a clunk.