Great recreational opportunities abound at Widewater State Park, a gem on Stafford’s Potomac River and Aquia Creek shores. The 1,100-acre park, located on the Widewater Peninsula, is a stop on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The park features trails, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, picnic shelters, a playground and a gift shop.
The park has four picnic shelters ideal for parties, reunions and other gatherings. Each shelter has access to parking, restrooms and a playground. You may reserve the shelters by visiting www.reservevaparks.com/web/Facilities/SearchViewUnitAvailabity.aspx.
There is no swimming at Widewater Park as the water is hazardous in the area with swift currents and sudden drop-offs. There are, however, several other options for water fun. There is an excellent largemouth bass fishery. The river is considered fresh at this point. You can fish from the shore and catch catfish, perch and even striped bass. A Virginia or Maryland freshwater fishing license is required on the Potomac and a Virginia license on Aquia Creek.
There are two launches suitable for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on Aquia Creek and the Potomac River. There are four paddle-in tents-only primitive campsites. Future plans call for a motorboat launch on the Potomac. The park is located on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, a system of hundreds of miles of water trails starting in New York, running through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia.
Trails and Wildlife Watching
There are two one-mile hiking trails. One is a loop around the visitor center and runs along Aquia Creek and Long Pond sections. Holly Marsh Trail connects with Long Pond Trail and provides access to the Potomac Picnic Area. Abundant wildlife may be seen from both trails.
Educational and Interpretive Opportunities
The park holds educational programs and events throughout the year. Upcoming events include National Kids to Parks Day on May 21, a couple of Junior Rangers days, and a Clean the Bay Day on June 6. On weekends, there are also “roving Rangers” roaming the picnic areas with cool stuff to share from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Widewater State Park is located at 101 Widewater State Park Road, Stafford, VA 22554. More information on Widewater State Park and other state parks may be found at www.dcr.virginia.gov.