Where is Douthat State Park
Located within the state’s section of the Allegheny Mountains, Douthat State Park resides entirely within the state of Virginia. The park is most well-known for its containment and access it provides to Douthat Lake. Douthat State Park also contains a visitor center, campground, hiking trails and areas designated for fishing and mountain biking. The nearest city to the state park is Clinton Forge. The state park is located 168 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive west of Richmond, 90 miles and a hour and a half drive southwest of Harrisonburg, and 157 miles and a two and a half hour drive east of Charleston, West Virginia. Douthat US State Park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas. These recreation areas include Blackwater Falls State Park, the Monongahela State Forest, and the Goshen Wildlife Management area.
How Large is Douthat State Park
Douthat State Park covers a total area of around 4,545 acres. The state park’s geography mainly consists of upland forest, mountainous outcroppings, and Douthat Lake. The park also contains several riparian streams and creeks. Douthat Lake found within the state park covers a total area of around 80 acres. The trail system contained within Douthat State Park is quite expansive and offers visitors around 43 miles of hiking and biking trails. Throughout the year, 24 of the park’s 26 hiking trails are also designated for mountain biking access. Douthat State Park is consistently referred to as the best state park for mountain biking on the east coast.
Douthat State Park Weather
The weather at Douthat State Park varies frequently throughout the year. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 65- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 25- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Douthat State Park receives around 90 days of rain per year. These 90 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 40 inches. Douthat State Park also experiences snowfall throughout every year. Snowfall in the park is quite mild but does appear occasionally during the winter months of December, January, and February. The park’s yearly snowfall totals average between 30 and 35 inches per year.
When did Douthat State Park Become a State Park
Douthat State Park first became a state park in 1936. The park was one of the original six state parks opened by the state of Virginia. Each of these six state parks were funded by the state and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. All of the park’s original facilities including Douthat Lake were constructed and created by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Virginia State Park system employed around 600 men from the Civilian Conservation Corps through the years of 1933 and 1942. The park is managed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Things to do in Douthat State Park
Douthat State Park offers visitors a variety of outdoor experiences. These experiences include activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The park also contains areas popular among mountain bikers and freshwater anglers. Our State Park Visitors Guide lists the most notable and popular adventures found in the park below:
Explore the Visitor Center
The visitor center at Douthat State Park is the best place for visitors to begin their Virginia state park journey. The visitor center contains several educational exhibits and displays and can provide park maps and other helpful brochures. Park staff working in the visitor center can also answer questions visitors may have pertaining to the park’s ecology, hiking trails, geology, geography, history, or cultural influence.
Join an Interpretive Program
Visitors who are eager to learn more about Douthat State Park after visiting and exploring the park’s visitor center will want to get involved in one of the park’s interpretive programs. These programs discuss a variety of topics relating to the park including park ecology, geography, history, and geology. The interpretive programs offered at Douthat State Park are led by knowledge park staff on a rotating basis. While the schedule for these events changes frequently, a weekly schedule is often posted on the park’s website and in the park’s visitors center.
Take a Hike in the Park
Douthat State Park contains 26 different hiking trails. These hiking trails explore the park’s whole area and each of the park’s ecosystems. These trails also vary in difficulty and offer something for hikers of all experience levels. For more information on the trails contained within Douthat State Park, visitors can inquire about park maps at the visitor center or download a digital copy from the park’s website.
Go Mountain Biking
Often referred to as the best mountain biking site on the east coast of the United States, Douthat State Park contains 24 trails designated for mountain biking access. Visitors bringing their bikes along with them to the park will want to be mindful of other bikers and hikers who they are sharing the trail with. More information regarding trail conditions and length can be found in the park’s visitor center or on the park’s website.
Cast a Line on Douthat Lake
Angler’s visiting Douthat Lake will want to bring all of their freshwater fishing equipment along with them to the park. Douthat Lake contains populations of several fish species including largemouth bass, catfish, and several species of panfish. Visitors looking to fish within Douthat State Park should come prepared with a valid Virginia state freshwater fishing license. All other Virginia fishing regulations also apply within the park.
Wildlife Viewing in the Park
Douthat State Park contains thriving populations of wildlife. These populations are mostly of woodland species like white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, racoons, opossums, and skunks. However, the park also contains a few amphibian species, a few reptilian species, and an array of songbirds. Several avian species reside in the park throughout the year.
Camping in the Park
The campground at Douthat State Park contains 87 campsites. Visitors looking to camp within Douthat State Park can make reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in the park during the summer months should make their reservations several months in advance. The park also contains reservable cabins and a lodge.
When to Visit Douthat State Park
Douthat State Park is open all year round, and visitors looking to travel to the park can do so throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the park is in spring or fall. These months offer moderate temperatures that are perfect for camping, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing, and also allow visitors to beat the summer crowds that form in the park. Wildlife in the park is the most active during the spring. In the fall, visitors can experience the changing colors of the area’s upland forest.
Must Have Items to Bring to Douthat State Park
Every trip outdoors requires packing and planning. A trip to Douthat State Park is no exception. The following items should be considered by every visitor traveling to Douthat State Park.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water and energy replenishing snacks are essential items to bring on every outdoor recreation trip as suggested by List of Parks. Visitors who plan to exert extended energy while hiking, mountain biking or fishing in Douthat State Park should bring additional supplies of water and snacks. Beef jerky, trail mix, and protein bars are some of the best snacks outdoor recreationists can bring to replenish their energy levels.
Sunscreen & Sunglass
In the summer, visitors to Douthat State Park should be prepared to face the Virginia sun. Sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses will provide visitors with necessary protection. Bringing a hat along with you may also be a great idea to help escape the summer sun and protect from ticks found in the park’s forest.
Bikers visiting Douthat State Park would probably never forget to pack their mountain bike. However, a reminder can always be helpful. Bikers visiting the park will also want to remember all of their other mountain biking equipment such as helmets, pads, and footwear.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
The 45 miles of trails at Douthat State Park feature several different geographic features and levels of terrain. The best way to be prepared for all the trails the park has to offer is to arrive at Douthat State Park wearing a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
Layers of Clothing
Temperatures in Douthat State Park can drop considerably very quickly. Campers and individuals looking to visit the park in winter should bring additional layers of clothing with them to the park. These layers will help campers remain comfortable in all temperatures they face throughout the night and day at Douthat State Park.
Field Guides & Park Maps
Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Douthat State Park may want to purchase and bring along a Virginia specific wildlife field guide to make identification easier. The visitor center can also supply hikers with trail maps and species checklists, as well as answer any additional questions about the park’s wildlife.
Where to Stay near Douthat State Park
Visitors looking to stay within Douthat State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites, cabins or lodge rooms. These reservations can be made on the park’s website and through the park’s reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel or other lodging establishment in the area should first search for options in Clinton Forge. Visitors looking for additional options or wanting to stay in a larger town should make the drive to Harrisonburg.
Food Near Douthat State Park
The closest food to Douthat State Park can be found in Clinton Forge. However, visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene may want to explore Harrisonburg or Richmond. Harrisonburg is about 90 miles and an hour and a half hour drive north of Douthat State Park. Richmond is about 168 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive west of the park. These two cities contain countless restaurants and bars.
Airports Near Douthat State Park
The closest international airport to Douthat State Park is located in Richmond. The Richmond International Airport is 167 miles and about a two-and-a-half-hour drive west of the park. Other airports near Douthat State Park include the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Dulles International Airport. Each of these three options provide access to a large variety of connecting flights.