Powhatan Wildlife Management Area Trails is a 8.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Powhatan, Virginia that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
The 4462-acre Powhatan Wildlife Management Area provides a haven for outdoors enthusiasts near an expanding metropolitan area. The area's landscape of old fields, cultivated areas for habitat enhancement, wood lots and lakes provide for a diversity of wildlife species. Once part of several farms, this gently rolling upland is well drained by several small streams that slowly make there way to Sallee Creek. Sallee Creek traverses the area northward on its way to the James River. Due to the past farming use of the area, and some of the current wildlife management practices of burning and disking, much of the area is in open fields. These openings, along with mature and newly emerging forests assure a diversity of wildlife cover types. The area's acreage is contiguous although divided by Route 60 and has one privately owned interior property. Water on the area includes, four "farm" ponds and the twin Powhatan Lakes along with numerous beaver ponds and marshes along Sallee Creek. A small waterfowl impoundment exists just east of the crossing of Salmon Creek and the CCC trail. Elevations on the area range from 200 to 350 feet. (From the http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas site description) There are essentially two types of trails: - Out and Back: Fescue Trail (runs E/W), CCC Trail (runs N/S) - Connecting: Arrowhead Trail (runs E/W), Dogwood Trail (runs (E/W), Powerline Trail (runs N/S) There are other trails, but these are the main trails running through the WMA. a loop can be created by combining several different trails to return to your point of origin. Example: Powerline to Red Oak, Red Oak to White Oak, White Oak to Dogwood, Dogwood to Arrowhead, Arrowhead back to Red Oak, and Red Oak to Powerline back to the parking area off Route 601
The map for this hike is very inaccurate. At one point the route takes you over a wetlands area labeled as "no crossing" on the DGIF maps. I kinda enjoy that sort of thing, but be advised. There are a few other spots that don't add up, but the navigation locator within the map is very accurate and that made it easy to follow. One also needs an Access Permit to use this area.
Despite that this was a great hike. It's all turf/ gravel access roads except the portion mentioned above. I didn't see a single person and to be able to hike that far in mature upland forest free of invasive species - all within 40 minutes of Richmond - that was just awesome! You cross many small creeks, through meadows and past ponds and a swamp. I saw turkey, deer, an owl, grouse, and a Pileated Woodpecker. I will definitely be back in the spring and fall.
Nice for solitude. The trails aren't marked too well, but it is hard to get off them.
There are a couple of ponds that are beautifully filled with lily pads.
Not very scenic this time of year. (December) Maybe was expecting more after a two hour drive???
If there's one thing a "wildlife management area" (WMA) screams, it's hunting and fishing - especially hunting. That IS HOW they manage that wildlife. I didn't know that we had coyote and bobcat in Virginia - black bear, yes. So you always need to be on the lookout just in case. If you're going to use a wildlife management area for hiking in the fall, then you need to be wearing clothing and gear that makes you VERY visible. My Camelbak is a bright yellow, so I was safe in that regard. I hiked on a Friday afternoon/evening, so I didn't encounter a whole lot of traffic. But toward sunset, I DID hear gunshots, so I was glad to be finishing up. ---
From the areas I hiked, it would seem that most of these trails are grass - which means that IF you chose to hike during peak tick season May through September, you need to wear long pants and use insect repellent. The trails are reasonably maintained, but in many areas, the grasses can be 4 to 6 inches long. In many places, the ground had a softer feel to it than other hiking trails I've been on, and so in combination with the grass, it made for a tougher hike - I felt the need to step higher - almost like a marching gait. The terrain on the trails I took was a good combination of flat and rolling and provided what I would consider a good venue for fitness hiking. ---
There are 5 main trails running through the WMA: Powerline, Fescue (the longest), Arrowhead, Dogwood, and the CCC, which is more of a dirt road to allow vehicle traffic to and from the single residence there. Most of the other trails connect off these five. There is a good combination of open and forested areas, so if you want to get some sun while you're hiking, this a good place. I also noticed quite a number of corn fields (yes, corn fields) throughout the area. ---
There are also 4 ponds positioned through the center of the area plus 2 lakes north of Route 60. A number of streams criss-cross the area as well. There are numerous parking areas surrounding the WMA - 7 lots south of Route 60 in strategic locations (2 off Route 60/601, 3 off Route 627 and 2 off Route 13), where the majority of the WMA lays. From the map, it appears that most (if not all) of the gates at the parking areas are closed to vehicle traffic, so you have to hike in. ---
All in all, I really enjoyed discovering the area, which was new to me. I had to drive about 20 miles further west than I'm used to, but it was thrilling to discover a new trail system to add to my repertoire. It was through AllTrails.com that I even found it. I plan on going back for a longer venture.
I went riding today for the first time at this park and was disappointed that several trails were closed to horses. Due to the closures we had to back track twice as there were no connecting trails to make a nice loop. The trails were wide and some were shady but the grasses were a tad long and I flicked ticks off of myself and my horse during our ride. We also came across a down tree that was impassable that needs to be removed.