GENERAL INFO: Nestled in the heart of the Cumberland State Forest in central Virginia, Bear Creek Lake is less than an hour west of Richmond. It's the perfect getaway for the outdoor enthusiast. Activities center on the 40-acre lake with a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals and a swimming beach. Other attractions include a meeting facility, cabins, camping, picnicking, an archery range and playgrounds. Guests also take advantage of the park's trails and access to the adjoining 16,000-acre Cumberland State Forest's 14-mile multi-use trail, which is popular with equestrians.
Note: There is limited (Verizon) cell phone signal in the park. Public phones are in Campground A and the linen building in the cabin area.
Park size: 326.4 acres; Lake Size: 40 acres.
Current weather: Call (804) 345-1212. Click here to visit the Weather Channel's site for this zip code.
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LOCATION: The park is about 4.5 miles northwest of the town of Cumberland. From U.S. Route 60, go west on Route 622 and south on Route 629 to the park entrance.
Its address is 22 Bear Creek Lake Road, Cumberland, VA 23040; Latitude, 37.531773. Longitude, -78.271589.
Drive Time: Northern Va., three hours; Richmond, one hour; Roanoke, two hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, three hours
PARK MAP: Click here.
Click here to see all of the park's photos.
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES: Camping and cabins. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK. Reservations are highly recommended.
Click here for details on reservation cancellation and transfer policies. A fee is charged per pet per night for overnight stays.
Visit a photo collection of Bear Creek Lake's overnight accommodations.
Cabins and Lodge
During prime season, cabins and the lodge are rented by the week beginning on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. A two-night minimum stay is required the rest of the year, but guests who wish to stay less than a week during prime season may call 30 days prior to desired arrival date to see if there is vacancy. The cabins and lodge are open year-round and reserved 11 months in advance. Extra beds are unavailable for these dwellings.
Directions for cabin and lodge guests to registration office: Register at the park office near the campgrounds on Bear Creek Lake Road off Route 629. Late arrivals should call the park beforehand to obtain the dwelling's entry code. Guests will be given specific directions to their cabin.
There is limited wireless Verizon service in the cabin and day-use areas.
From Feb. 15 through April 30, a burn ban is in effect from midnight to 4 p.m.
Bear Creek Lodge (universally accessible)
Cabins: During prime season, weekly rental for cabins 6 through 9 starts on Friday, cabins 1 through 5 on Saturday, and for 10 through 12 on Sunday.
Total sites of each type: two-bedroom frame, 6; two-bedroom frame waterview, 4; three-bedroom frame, 1; three-bedroom frame waterview, 1; Bear Creek Lodge, 1
Two-bedroom frame cabin, maximum capacity six, one queen bed, two sets of bunk beds (room sleeps four); no bed rentals
Two-bedroom frame waterview cabin, maximum capacity six, one queen bed, two sets of bunk beds (room sleeps four); no bed rentals. Cabin 5, which is universally accessible, has a queen bed, one set of bunkbeds and a full-size, pullout couch in the living area.
Three-bedroom frame cabin, maximum capacity eight, one queen bed, two single beds in second bedroom, two sets of bunk beds (room sleeps four) in third bedroom; no bed rentals; two bathrooms
Three-bedroom frame waterview cabin, maximum capacity eight, one queen bed, two single beds in second bedroom, two sets of bunk beds (room sleeps four) in third bedroom; no bed rentals
Bear Creek Lodge - six bedrooms, maximum capacity 16, three baths, universally accessible, two queen size beds in two bedrooms, two single beds in two bedrooms, two sets of bunk beds each in two bedrooms (each room sleeps four); no bed rentals
From Feb. 15 through April 30, a burn ban is in effect from midnight to 4 p.m
Number of each site type: EW, 27; RV35, 9; TENT, 12; BC Group Site, 1
EW – Electric-water sites; gravel parking area; can hold various equipment up to 20 feet; accepts outlets 20 and 30-amp current.
RV35 – Electric-water sites; gravel parking area; holds equipment up to 35 feet long; accepts 20 and 30-amp current; all located in Campground B.
TENT - Tents only. No hookups. Gravel parking area; tent pads and natural surface for setting up tent.
Total: 48 sites
Camping Lodge (bunkhouse) - no weekly requirement.
The park rents a camping lodge (bunkhouse) that's next to the group campsite and near Campground C. The bunkhouse is not a full service lodge. It's a two-room trailer with seven bunk beds, a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a coffee pot, and heating and air conditioning. The bunkhouse also has a charcoal grill and deck outside. Cooking and smoking are not permitted inside the lodge. Five vehicles are permitted with rental of the lodge; the daily parking fee must be paid for additional vehicles.
This facility becomes available in January each year; unlike most overnight facilities, it is not sold 11 months in advance. Check-in is 3 p.m., and check-out is 10 a.m. Late arrivals should call the park beforehand for directions and the lodge's entry code.
The transfer deadline and cancellation and pet fees are the same as those for cabins.
Bear Creek Lake rents a group campsite that has no hookups and is for tents only. It's near Campground C and next to the bunkhouse. The site accommodates up to 36 people. The site is near a restroom. It has several picnic tables, fire-rings with grills and a large pedestal grill. The campsite is available April 1 through Oct. 31. From April 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day and from Labor Day through Oct. 31, the Campground C restroom is open only on weekends. Group campsite guests may still use the Campground A restroom, which is a short walk away. There is a nonrefundable overnight fee plus a cancellation fee when reservations for this site are cancelled. The fee to cancel any group site that accommodates more than six people is greater than that for single campsites.
SWIMMING: Lake swimming: From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, swimming will be available, weather permitting and when the temperature is at least 70 degrees. From Memorial Day through mid-June and from Mid-August through Labor Day, swimming will be available for abbreviated hours on weekdays. Swimming may be unavailable on some weekdays. Please call the park to check availability during this time.
The swimming beach has a bathhouse and a concession offering a variety of sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Click here for park fees. Swimming is free for overnight guests in the campsites, cabins, bunkhouse and lodge, however it cannot be guaranteed should circumstances beyond the park's control require that swimming be closed. We do not give refunds for swimming to overnight guests under any circumstances.
TRAILS: Hiking; no bicycle trails or rentals, however horses and bicycles allowed on multi-use hiking trail. The park also provides access to the Willis River Trail, a 16-mile long trail winding through the surrounding area. The 14-mile Cumberland Multi-use Trail also is available for bicycles, horses and hikers (this trail does not loop back into the park and is located on Virginia Department of Forestry property). Those interested in riding horses or mountain bikes in Cumberland State Forest must obtain a State Forest Use Permit; call (804) 492-4121 for details.
Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Bear Creek Lake's trails.
WILDLIFE: Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at Bear Creek Lake.
View all wildlife encounter photos from Bear Creek Lake.
FISHING, BOATING: A 40-acre lake supports largemouth bass, crappie, bream and channel catfish. The Willis River, a small, slow tributary of the James, winds through Cumberland State Forest. Those with a canoe or small boat can enjoy fishing there. Two canoe launches with access to the river are in Cumberland State Forest. A boat ramp is available for non-gasoline powered boats. The park also has a universally accessible fishing pier.
Boat rentals are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Shoulder season rentals are offered on weekends only during May and September. Parental supervision is required for all rentals, and pets are not allowed in rental boats. Rentals are sometimes cancelled during the shoulder season because of bad weather or staff shortages.
Canoes, rowboats, trolling motors, paddleboats and kayaks are for rent. A valid Virginia fishing license is required for fishing. Those 16 and older must have a license with them. A gas station near the park entrance sells fishing licenses.
Those interested in fishing in Cumberland State Forest lakes, including Arrowhead, Bonbrook, Oak Hill and Winston lakes, must obtain a State Forest Use Permit (in addition to a regular freshwater fishing license). Call (804) 492-4121 for details.
HUNTING: Fall hunting in nearby Cumberland State Forest. Call the state forest at (804) 492-4121 for specific dates.
Archery Range - The park has a 10-lane archery range with excelsior bales and 3D targets. The range, which is managed by the park and Friends of Bear Creek Lake State Park, is open from March 1 through the first Monday in December. No archery equipment is available for rent. Call (804) 492-4410 for details.
HORSES: None. There is a 14-mile trail for horses for day-use only in nearby Cumberland State Forest (bring your own horse). Those interested in riding horses Cumberland State Forest must obtain a State Forest Use Permit; call (804) 492-4121 for details. State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins report with each horse brought to the park.
EVENTS: Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP: Merchandise can be purchased at the office, concession stand and boat house.
NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: Campfire get-togethers, music activities, night hikes, nature crafts, survival skills, canoeing and many more activities are offered on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Weekday programs are available on a limited basis. Groups may request special programming any time of year if they provide advance notice and the subject matter is relevant to Bear Creek's natural and historic resources. Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER: None.
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Lee’s Retreat Driving Tour, Farmville; State Forest and Game Commission Lands and Impoundments; Heart of Virginia Festival (first Saturday in May); Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce. Monticello, Ashlawn, Virginia's Retreat Civil War Driving Tour and the Appomattox Court House are within an hour's drive, as are tubing trips provided by the James River Runners Inc. in Scottsville. Also, High Bridge Trail, Holliday Lake, James River, Sailor's Creek Battlefield and Twin Lakes state parks are within an hour's drive.
PICNIC SHELTERS: The park offers lakeside picnicking near the swimming beach. Picnic facilities include drinking water, grills and restrooms. Picnic shelters are available by reservation by calling the Reservation Center at 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for park fees. Shelters can be rented from 8 a.m. to dusk (all day). Please note the hour in between for half day rental times. The shelter is rented April 1 through Oct. 31; boat rentals and swimming are available Memorial Day through Labor Day. Shelter parking is very limited so carpooling is recommended. There is limited wireless Verizon service in the day-use area.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.
Bear Creek Meeting Hall
Reserve by calling 1-800-933-7275. This is a day-use facility. Because of limited parking, this facility is not reserved from Saturday through Monday on Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.
There are tables and chairs (no charge). Guests should call the park at least two weeks ahead of time to arrange their event's setup. Many sizes and configurations are available. The facility seats about 40 for sit-down meal and about 65 without tables. In warm weather, up to twelve 48-inch tables with four chairs each can be set up on the facility’s stone patio.
Reservations must be paid in full within 14 days of the date the reservation is made. Cancellations can be made up until 14 days prior to the start of the reservation for a 10 percent cancellation fee or $100, whichever is less. Within 14 days prior to the first day of the reservation period, a 30 percent cancellation fee is charged.
CONCESSIONS: The swimming area and boat rentals are available from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday - Friday and 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The concession stand is open during prime season from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Please call the park about availability in early June and late August.
LAUNDRY: Closest public laundry is 7 miles away in Cumberland Court House.
RESTAURANT: No restaurant, but a small market just outside the park entrance carries a limited supply of grocery items and some camping supplies. The Town of Cumberland located on Route 60 approximately seven miles from the park has a post office, convenience stores and two small restaurants.
HISTORY: Bear Creek Lake was built in 1938 as a project of the Virginia Department of Agriculture through the State Forestry Division. Although this project was undertaken during the closing days of the Great Depression, the 100 men who built the lake were not members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They were simply carpenters, farmers and unskilled laborers seeking jobs. Along with the lake, these men built two pavilions, a concession stand and six fireplaces. The land was given to the Division of State Parks in 1940, and it was operated as a day-use recreation area. In 1962 the division added campgrounds and the area's name was changed to Bear Creek Lake State Park.
FRIENDS GROUP: Feel like lending nature a hand? The Friends of Bear Creek Lake State Park group is a hands-on volunteer 501c3 organization dedicated to preserving and supporting the park. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to become a member.
Master plans must be written for parks before they're built.
The plans are updated at least once every five years thereafter.
The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources.
Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan.
Click here (PDF) for this park's master plan.
CONTACT INFO: Bear Creek Lake State Park, 22 Bear Creek Lake Road, Cumberland, VA 23040; Phone, (804) 492-4410; email, bearcreek. Learn more about park offerings by calling 1-800-933-PARK or email resvs.