Bear Creek Lake State Park is located in the Cumberland State Forest in the middle of Virginia, less than an hour west of the capital, providing a relaxing RV vacation even for those in the city. Bear Creek Lake is the primary feature of the park, with activities revolving around water, such as boating, swimming, and fishing. Hiking trails abound for outdoor enthusiasts, and there's even an archery range for you to practice on if you aren't into water sports.
Bear Creek Lake State Park offers camping in a variety of forms. You can bring your RV and park it at a campsite or pitch a tent. Cabins and lodges are also available, as well as a bunkhouse. Swimming in the lake is one of the most popular activities here as well as playing in the nearby Bear Creek and Willis River. There are also two playgrounds near the camp to keep the kids busy.
While you're staying in the park, there are plenty of things to keep you busy too. The nearby historical sites at Appomattox Court House and the Chellowe Plantation House in Buckingham County provide tons of interesting information for history buffs. If you haven't gotten enough of the great outdoors, there are several other state parks nearby, including Powhatan State Park and Holliday Lake State Park.
Bear Creek Lake State Park is located northwest of the town of Cumberland, Virginia, in the middle of the Cumberland State Forest. It is accessible from US-60 and VA-622 or VA-628. Your GPS unit may navigate you to a gravel road section of the nearby Oak Hill Road, but the main entrance is reachable by VA-622, which is Trent's Mill Road. You’ll be just a couple hours from Virginia Beach and Norfolk to the southeast and only an hour from Richmond to the east. Charlottesville is about an hour to the north on I-64 if you want to visit Monticello or see the Blue Ridge Mountains.
After you check-in, you'll want to travel carefully to your campsite as there are several loops. Camping is available on either side of Bear Creek Lake, but not all campsites have a good cell phone signal. As such, emergency phones are available within the Acorn Campground Loop and the linen building near the cabins. Wi-Fi is also available within the state park, allowing you to e-mail pictures of all of your adventures to your loved ones.
The maximum total length for RVs and trailers is 35 feet. This length restriction includes your tow vehicle. Some campsites are only large enough for vehicles up to 20 feet. Two vehicles can park at each campsite, although some do not have enough space for two. In that case, the second vehicle should park at the office parking area in the campground.
Bear Creek Lake State Park offers camping at close to 50 sites within three camping loops: The Acorn, Black Oak, and Chestnut loops. The Acorn Loop has sites by the lakeside. Reservations are strongly recommended for the campsites or cabins.
Each campsite allows two vehicles to park, in addition to the trailer or camping unit. Limited parking is available at the sites, however. You'll find a picnic table and fire pit at your site no matter which loop you stay in. Pets are also welcome at all sites, but you must keep them restrained and supervise them at all times during your visit.
The Acorn loop does not have water or electrical hookups and is only big enough for RVs or trailers that are up to 20 feet in length, which includes the driving vehicle. The Black Oak Loop has room for RVs up to 35 feet long and has sites with electrical and water hookups. The Chestnut Loop also has water and electrical hookups so you can easily cook up some dinner in the RV.
You can picnic at Bear Creek Lake at one of the many picnic tables in the park, especially those located around the lake. If you have a big group, there is one reservable picnic shelter that can accommodate up to 40 people. The shelter has pedestal BBQ grills, a drinking fountain, and plenty of tables. There is no electricity, so make sure you won't need to plug anything in. You can keep the kids busy at one of the two playgrounds nearby, or send the kids to the fishing lake, which is only 250 feet away. If you didn't pack your picnic basket, but you still want to enjoy eating by the lake's shore, there's the Lakeside Diner, which offers snacks, sandwiches, and drinks for sale.
Each of Bear Creek Lake State Park's nine trails is strictly for the use of hikers, so you won't have to worry about sharing the trails with horses or mountain bikers. The 0.05-mile Beaver Run or 0.05-mile Coyote Trail are both easy and short walks that are great for first-timers and small children. If you want a challenge, try the 1.75-mile Channel Cat Loop or the 1.75-mile Lost Barr Loop. In addition to the miles of trails within the state park, there is a 16-mile trail known as Willis River Trail that runs through the Cumberland State Forest. Don't forget to pack a sturdy pair of hiking boots in your camper so you can easily hit one of the trails.
There is an archery range at Bear Creek Lake State Park that you can practice hitting the bullseye. Archery equipment rentals are not available within the park; however, so you will need to bring your own equipment. The facilities include a ten-lane range with 3D targets and excelsior bales. The range is open for most of the year, from the first weekend of March through the first weekend in December. The range is maintained by both the park and the Friends of Bear Creek Lake State Park.
If you're looking to spend some time on the trails on your bike, you can enjoy the 14.8 miles of the Cumberland Multi-Use Trail, which takes you through the park and into the Cumberland State Forest. You can start at the State Forest Office parking lot and ride along the Oak Hill Forest Road by Oak Hill Lake to Rock Point Creek. Then the trail will take you back up to Bear Creek Road and Bear Creek to the beginning of the trail.
Bear Creek Lake is a prime destination to beat that hot Virginian sun during your RV camping trip. Swimming in Bear Creek Lake State Park is allowed, but only in designated areas. Lifeguards are often stationed in the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day but may not be present at times, such as during inclement weather. Swimming is allowed when lifeguards are not present, but the swimmer assumes the risk of swimming without supervision. There are restrooms at the swimming beach, as well as a restaurant, the Lakeside Diner, that serves sandwiches and drinks.
Boating is available in Bear Creek Lake if you have a canoe or a small boat. You can bring your own boat and launch non-gasoline powered boats from the boat ramp within the park. You can also rent boats and motors from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The available boats include kayaks, paddleboats, boats with trolling motors, and paddleboards. In the adjacent Cumberland State Forest, there are two canoe launches with access to the Willis River.
The 40-acre Bear Creek Lake and the Willis River provide excellent fishing opportunities for anglers. An ADA-accessible fishing pier is available in the park, making it possible for everyone to fish. A variety of fish lives in the lake, including channel catfish, bream, crappie, and bass. Anyone who wants to fish will need a Virginia fishing license, which can be obtained from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Department. If the waters close by don't suit your needs, head to the water in one of the nearby lakes located within the Cumberland State Forest. If you plan to fish in the forest, please make sure you have a valid forest-use permit.
Willis River is a great place to have a mini float trip. Whether you choose to go down the river on a canoe, raft, or inner tube, you will enjoy the ride. Start upriver and float down to your campsite or just keep floating until you feel like going back to camp. You’ll also find some private little islands and coves where you can have a nice secluded picnic. Be sure to wear life jackets for safety and use sunscreen.