Dutch Gap Conservation Area

  • Highlights: River and lagoon views, birdwatching, wildlife, wildflowers
  • Distance: 5 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 30 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Citie of Henricus parking area,  341 Henricus Park Road, Chester VA
  • Website: Chesterfield County
  • Beer Pairings: Molly’s Blind Dog Brewery—Charlie’s Brown Ale & Train Wreck IPA

The Hike:

Dutch Gap is a nearly 800 acre wildlife conservation area located on the James River in Chesterfield County. This is a great place for boating, fishing, birdwatching, and hiking. The park has a well-marked trail that loops through the wetlands and tidal lagoon. Several short spur trails lead to viewpoints.

The hike begins near the Henricus Visitor center. While there is an admission charge for Henricus, Dutch Gap does not have an entrance fee. Look for the trailhead sign on the left of the Visitor Center. A kiosk has trail maps and descriptions of the hike. 

Follow the trail around the building. This becomes the Blue trail, a .5 mile trail leading to the lagoon. Two short spur trails lead off to the left with nice views of the wetlands. The Dominion Energy fly ash field and neighboring power plant are off to the right. The Blue trail ends at the junction with the White trail which loops around the lagoon.

We decided to turn left on the White trail and hiked around the lagoon clockwise. On the left, Bald Cypress trees thrive in the wetlands. The trail crosses over Channel Bridge at Osprey Point. A Yellow spur trail leads off to the left to Dog Leg Point. A small Sandy beach on the right has some nice lagoon views.  

As the trail loops around near Egret Island, the old James River channel is visible through the trees on the left. To the right is “The Graveyard” where hulks of wooden barges are visible at low tide. The Orange spur trails on the left leads to Oxbow Point. Follow the White trail as is bears to the left (going straight is short spur to Peninsula Point).

As you continue around the lagoon, the Dominion fly ash fields become visible again on the left. For a scenic detour, look on the right for the Green-blazed Horsetail Loop Trail. This short trail takes you through the marsh (and away from the fly ash fields) for .2 miles when it rejoins the White trail. Turn right on the Red trail for more lagoon views before rejoining the White trail. Turn left on the White trail and retrace your steps back to the Blue trail and the Henricus Visitor center parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Located about six miles from Dutch Gap is Molly’s Bicycle Shop & Blind Dog Brewery. Yes indeed, Molly’s is a bike shop and a brewery. It’s a very small batch brewery located in a corner of the bike shop. They have indoor and outdoor seating with a large beer garden in the back.

Pete really liked Charlie’s Brown Ale, an English-style brown ale. It had a nutty finish from the chocolate and oats used in the brewing process. Kathy enjoyed Train Wreck, a New England-style IPA. It was nicely hopped with 54 IBUs. We can’t wait to return to Molly’s to enjoy another round of great craft beer.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.

1 thought on “Dutch Gap Conservation Area”

  1. Hey Hoppy Hikers!
    I really enjoy your blog. It’s so well-written, and the photos are awesome! Can’t wait to hear about your next hiking adventure!

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