BEAR CREEK LAKE STATE PARK
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland State Forest in central Virginias Cumberland County, Bear Creek Lake State Park offers the amenities of the larger parks without the crowds. Activities revolve around the 40-acre lake with a boat launch, swimming beach, lakeside picnicking, camping and hiking trails.The park is surrounded by the 16,000-acre Cumberland State Forest, which provides opportunities for a wide range of outdoor activities. Four small lakes in the state forest are managed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for recreational fishing. A network of gated and ungated forest roads provides hiking, mountain biking and nature observation. The Virginia Department of Forestry also operates a sporting clays range in the Cumberland State Forest.
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.
Rental rates for cabins and camping vary by season, offering and park. Rates are subject to verification by DCR's state parks reservations staff (1-800-933-PARK). First, determine the appropriate season, which can vary by park, then determine the relevant rate.
Lake swimming: Available Memorial Day to Labor Day. Swimming is free with camping. Open during the summer only, the swimming beach is complete with a bathhouse and concession operation featuring a wide range of sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Click here for park fees. In the summer, swimming is free for overnight guests in campsites, cabins and the 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.
Boat rentals and bike rentals are available daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A boat launching ramp is available for non-gasoline powered boats. 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.
In addition, the park has canoes, rowboats, paddleboats and hydrobikes available for rent. A valid Virginia fishing license is required for fishing from the lake. Trolling motors are available for rent.
The 40-acre lake supports healthy populations of largemouth bass, crappie, bream and channel catfish. The Willis River, a small, slow moving tributary of the James, winds through Cumberland State Forest providing fishing opportunities to anyone with a canoe or small boat. Two canoe launches are located in Cumberland State Forest for access to the Willis River.
Fall hunting in nearby Cumberland State Forest. Call the park at (804) 492-4410 for specific dates. Until further notice, the park's 10-target, 2-D archery range will be closed because of construction. Please call the park, (804) 492-4410, for details.