York River State Park

  • Highlights: River and marsh views, birdwatching, wildflowers
  • Distance: 6.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 257 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: York River State Park Visitor Center, 9801 York River Park Rd., Williamsburg, VA park fee required 
  • Website: York River State Park
  • Beer Pairings: Talleysville Brewing Co.—Broken Post Pilsner & Pinch Point APA

The Hike:

Taskinas Plantation produced tobacco on extensive fields and the river was the transportation source to bring the product to market. Only small sections of foundations exist from the plantation buildings. The park visitor center displays artifacts from early Native Americans and fossils found on the property. Today the park is an estuarine environment where salt and freshwater merge creating an ecosystem for marine and plant life. The park trails are well marked and well maintained.

This hike combines eight trails and there are frequent trail junctions. All trail junctions are marked, just follow the signs. Begin the hike near the Visitor Center on the Woodstock Pond trail. Pick up a trail map at the kiosk or take a picture of the park trail map. Woodstock Pond on the right is a freshwater home to plants and animals who cannot survive in the brackish river on your left. 

The trail soon comes to a junction with the Mattaponi Trail, bear left here and follow this trail over a footbridge with nice river and marsh views to a short spur trail leading to Fossil Beach. Steps lead down the the beach. Depending on the river water level, you may be able to explore several hundred yards of shoreline. Look for fossils and enjoy the river before retracing your steps. Turn left to stay on the Mattaponi Trail.

Pass the ruins of the Henderson House on the right and the trail joins the Woodstock Pond Trail and then becomes the Backbone Trail. Stay straight and follow the Backbone Trail which is a former plantation road. Turn left at the junction with the Pamunkey Trail and then turn right at the first junction on the Spur Trail. This short trail leads to a junction with the Majestic Oak Trail. Turn left here and pass through an old growth forest with giant oaks, some over 200 years old.

A foot bridge leads over the marsh with nice views. The trail now becomes the Powhattan Forks North Trail and continues through the forest. The trail passes by the site of the former Taskinas Plantation and then rejoins the Backbone Trail. Follow the Backbone as you retrace your steps back to the parking area. At a junction with the Woodstock Pond Trail, turn left to stay on the Backbone Trail. The parking area and visitor center will be on your left.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Williamsburg to the east has several great breweries. We were heading west back to Richmond and decided to stop at Talleysville Brewing Co., located about 30 minutes west of the park. Talleysville Brewing is part of the New Kent Winery. The brewery/winery has wine and beer and a variety of small plate food options. They have indoor and outdoor seating and dogs are welcome outside.

Kathy enjoyed Pinch Point, and American Pale Ale and the hoppiest beer offering at 50 IBUs. Brewed with Centennial hops, Pinch Point has pine and grapefruit notes balanced by a malty backbone. Pete tried Broken Post, a European-style Pilsner. It was crisp and refreshing but didn’t have the hoppy finish he prefers in a pilsner.

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