Photo by John Henley
Powhatan County State Park 4616 Powhatan State Park Road, Powhatan Before it was transferred to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the 1,564 acres of land in the northwest corner of Powhatan County that is now Powhatan County State Park was owned by Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center. "They called it ‘the big woods,'" Matt O'Quinn, park manager, says of the area's former tenants. The newest Virginia state park opened July 6 with seven miles of multi-use trails, a playground, a conservation area and two wooden canoe slides. The area includes more than two miles of river frontage and will soon offer canoe-in camping with 6-by-6 camping platforms along the southern bank of the James. "This is a river park," O'Quinn says. "The James is certainly a draw."
Byrd Park 600 S. Boulevard, Richmond Nouveau soul restaurant Croaker's Spot opened its second express location at Byrd Park's Fountain Lake on May 24. "Everything we do, we try to do with love," owner Kevin Anderson says of the outpost that serves whitefish, shrimp, crab and more. The concession stand will operate through Oct. 31 — coinciding with the pedal-boat rentals available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. "It just goes together," Anderson says. "Sitting in front of the lake eating seafood is sort of like hand in glove." In addition to pedaling around Fountain Lake and indulging in Southern fare, visitors to the mixed-use park in Randolph can enjoy urban fishing opportunities at each of the park's three lakes. A network of sidewalks in the 287-acre park connects Fountain Lake to Swan and Shields lakes to the east of Blanton Avenue. Tucker Park at Maiden's Crossing 1300 Maidens Road, Powhatan Don Charles, former deputy administrator for Goochland County, drew the plans for Tucker Park on the back of a napkin at the White Hawk Music Café. The city planner, who was behind the renovation of Main Street Station and the rebuilding of Shockoe Slip, moved to Goochland County after retiring from 30 years with the city. "We tried to steer it more toward a passive recreational facility where folks can come to enjoy nature," Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Derek Stamey says of the 36-acre park that has a one-mile walking trail along the river. In May 2011, as the park was nearing completion, Charles was diagnosed with cancer. "I had been working toward maintaining [the park] so that when he went down there, it [would be] finished," Stamey says. Charles saw the park once before his death in September 2011. A month later, it was officially dedicated. "It essentially is the initial vision," Stamey says. Osborne Park and Boat Landing 9680 Osborne Turnpike, Henrico On weekday evenings, fishermen line the pier that extends 135 feet into the river at Osborne Park, reeling in bass and catfish from the James. "You'll see some very large ships going up that channel," Henrico parks planning supervisor Al Azzarone says of the area, which serves as a thoroughfare for barges heading to Richmond from the Tidewater region. Watch the boats pass by from one of two picnic shelters or bring your own watercraft. The 26-acre park has two canoe launches and a state-owned boat landing along 1,150 feet of the north side of the river. For more remote river access, head east to Deep Bottom Park (9525 Deep Bottom Road), which has a canoe launch and a boat slip. The area where Four Mile Creek empties into the James doesn't see the large boat traffic of Osborne Park, and with 85 acres of mostly wooded marsh areas, it has "a whole different feel," Azzarone says.