Dutch Gap Conservation Area
- Boat slide (canoe and kayak)
- Camping area
- Observation blind
- Picnic shelter
About James River at Dutch Gap
The James River is one of the most historic rivers in the United States. Artifacts found along its shores date back 11,000 years. From the time that Native Americans lived along the banks of the James River, it was a vital part of the livelihood of Virginia. It played important roles in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
Today, it continues to be an important part of the state's economic development and recreational splendor. Visit the river at Dutch Gap and learn about the river's history and why it flows differently now from how it did when the Citie of Henricus was founded.
About the Conservation Area
Surrounding the 1611 Citie of Henricus, Henricus Historical Park, is nature in splendid abundance. “Dutch Gap” refers to Sir Thomas Dale’s attempt in 1611 to shorten river travel by cutting a new channel to bypass this meander. With the James River as a backdrop, the 800-plus-acre Dutch Gap Conservation Area includes a bounty of woodlands, wildlife and waterways. Dutch Gap also offers locations for those simply looking for a quiet place to reflect on life in a peaceful, open-air oasis. Dutch Gap also provides a boat landing on the James River.
Come visit this magnificent offering of idyllic, richly diverse land. It is bordered by the James River on the north and encircled by the old oxbow channel. A blue heron rookery looms high in the marsh along the entrance. Surrounding the rookery, beavers and muskrats swim in the waters of a freshwater swamp and marsh.
Dutch Gap protects valuable natural resources and provides a site for environmental education. It offers tranquility and caters to individuals, families and other visitors seeking nature and time for solitude.
Things to Do
Dutch Gap is home to bald cypresses. It is an ornithologist's dream, providing delightful bird watching opportunities. The southern section, a 4.5-mile trail loop includes a freshwater tidal lagoon that is a favorite spot for anglers in search of bass. Eagles and other rare birds and a myriad of fish and wildlife can be viewed. Also the area includes a blue heron rookery and a 2.5-mile Lagoon Water Trail (PDF), where paddlers can observe the “graveyard” of submerged barges and several islands. There is access to the James River by foot or by boat. Hiking provides opportunities for exploration.
- 3 picnic shelters
- Camping area (for organized groups, fees apply)
- Fishing access
- Kayak and canoe access
- Lagoon Water Trail (PDF)
- Observation blind
- Walking trails (5.8 miles)
Dutch Gap Trail
Dutch Gap Trail is a 4.5 mile loop open for hiking, biking, walking, running and horseback riding.
Lagoon Water Trail
The Lagoon Water Trail (PDF) is a 2.5 mile tidal lagoon water trail that can be explored by kayak or canoe. Observe the “graveyard” of barges, wetlands, islands and a heron rookery in a safe flat-water environment suitable for beginners.
Kayak and Canoe Tour
Individuals and groups can schedule a private kayak or canoe tour in the tidal lagoon. The tour consists of a 3-hour program (2 hours of paddle time) and includes nature guides, boats, paddles and floatation devices. Minimum age to participate is 7 years old.
Bird watching is superb in all seasons with the diverse habitats. The park is home to 2 observation platforms along the road entrance and bird blinds in the conservation area.
Dutch Gap has 5 docks along the river trail situated throughout the conservation area. Tidal waters bring residential freshwater and migratory fish.