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.
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
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.
Drive Times: Northern Va., three
hours; Richmond, one hour; Roanoke, two hours;
Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, three hours
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
bicyles, horses and hikers (this trail does not loop back into the
park and is located on Virginia Department of Forestry property).
FISHING, BOATING: 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.
Boat 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, canoes, rowboats,
trolling motors and paddleboats are available for rent. A valid
Virginia fishing license is required for fishing.
HUNTING: Fall hunting in nearby
Cumberland State Forest. Call the park at (804) 492-4410 for
specific dates. The park also has a 2-D multi-station archery
range. Please call the park, (804) 492-4410, for details.
VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP:
Merchandise can be purchased at the office, concession stand and
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
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
Shelters can be rented from 8 a.m.
to dusk (all day), or 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. to dusk (half
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.