Dutch Gap Conservation Area
411 Coxendale Road
Chester, VA 23836
The Dutch Gap Conservation Area is 810 acres of diverse woods, wetlands and wildlife. Bordered by the beautiful and scenic James River, the area includes a blue heron rookery in the marsh.
Hours of operation: 8 a.m. - sunset
What you can do at the conservation area
Explore the Dutch Gap Trail: The 4.5-mile Dutch Gap Trail is a multiuse trail open for hiking, biking and horseback riding. This easy trail takes visitors along bottomlands, meadows, a small pond and wetlands and circumnavigates the Tidal Lagoon.
Watch the Birdie: Bird-watching is superb in all seasons. The abundance of habitats creates a rich, diverse population of birds in the conservation area. Wetlands and ponds attract gadwalls, pintails, widgeons, ringnecks, Canada geese, kingfisher, osprey and bald eagles. Meadows draw sparrows, goldfinches, indigo buntings, eastern bluebirds, kingbirds and sparrow hawks. Forests are filled with the songs of red-eyed vireo, scarlet tanagers, crested flycatchers, American redstart and more. Many birders come to witness the heron rookery located in the tidal lagoon or to observe bald eagles. Two observation platforms along the entrance road provide views of many aquatic species throughout the year.
Explore by kayak or canoe: Paddle the 2.5-mile Lagoon Water Trail. Paddlers will experience the tidal waters of the James River and learn how the lagoon was created. Paddlers can observe the "graveyard" of barges, wetlands, many islands and the heron rookery. The trail provides a safe, flat-water environment and is suitable for beginners.
Camping under the stars at the peninsula: Organized groups can primitive camp at the scenic peninsula. The peninsula has two picnic shelters, picnic tables, a port-a-john and canoe/kayak access to the tidal lagoon. Camping fee is $3/person/night. For more information, call 804-318-8735 or download the Camping Request Form.
Fishing Galore - Visitors can fish along the River Trail and at five docks situated throughout the conservation area (Henricus Dock, Sycamore Dock, Cypress Dock, Horsetail Dock and Pond Dock). The tidal waters include freshwater fish such as small and largemouth bass and blue catfish along with migratory species such as striped bass and American shad.
Individuals and groups can schedule a private kayak/canoe tour in the tidal lagoon. A three-hour program includes nature guides, boats (sit-on-top kayaks, recreational kayaks or canoes), paddles and flotation devices. Paddle time is about two hours. Minimum age is 7. Call 804-318-8735 to schedule a trip or for more information.
Nature and Outdoor Programs at Dutch Gap
Map of park
Dutch Gap Staff:
Mark Battista, Naturalist
Links to additional information: