CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s largest state park by acreage is undergoing major capital improvements, set to be completed this summer.
Pocahontas State Park, located in Chesterfield, was the highest-attended park in Virginia in 2019, with 956,573 visitors, according to Park Manager Nate Clark. Even with facility closures in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Clark said there were 782,213 visitors.
“Last year in the spring, when all the restrictions and stay-at-home orders were really getting ramped up, we saw a huge increase in travelers — a lot of new folks coming out to the park to use mountain bike trails and hiking trails,” Clark said.
Since the summer of 2019, cabins have been under construction at Pocahontas State Park — four three-bedroom cabins and one six-bedroom lodge. According to Clark’s presentation before the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors at its Wednesday meeting, this $3.75 million project will wrap in time for a July 3 opening.
“This was funded out of the General Assembly session in 2016 — Capital Project Bill that funded a lot of capital projects throughout the state,” Clark said. “Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
Clark said that the budget allowed for the building of five cabins, but that the park would like to add more in the future.
A $1 million project to improve the pool, which was closed in 2020 due to COVID-19, is also slated for completion soon — in June 2021. However, Clark said that there is not a hard deadline to complete work on the pool’s white coat and refurbish its structure because it will not be opening in 2021, also due to the pandemic.
“The last major upgrade of the pool was, I think, about 16 years ago,” Clark said. “We’re in the middle of doing this project right now. We were hoping to have it done a little bit earlier. But since we’re not going to open the pool, there’s really no hurry.”
Completed projects at Pocahontas State Park include expanding the Loop Forest parking lot and paving an older loop of the campground.
Since opening on April 24, Clark reported that more than 76,00 cars have used the larger parking lot along Courthouse Road, which has about 70 more spaces than the previous lot. The project was funded through community fundraising efforts, which raised $210,000.
The small-scale paving project to address maintenance needs and deterioration in the campground area was completed on May 20, and reportedly cost $91,000, which was funded through a surplus.
“We received the Parks and Recreation Sports Tourism Master Plan and it calls for increased investment down there, and so we’re looking forward to continuing with you in making that a destination for families in Chesterfield and around the region for many, many years to come,” Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and Clover Hill District representative Chris Winslow said. “We’re hoping to open it up even more.”