Widewater State Park has fabulous river views. It officially opened up in 2019. It’s on a peninsula where Aquia Creek and the Potomac River meet. At Widewater, you are able to access both bodies of water. (Updated May 2022)
Once you leave the main highway, you will drive for what seems like an eternity. You’ll be driving parallel with railroad tracks for a bit and then you’ll cross over them as you near Widewater.
Whenever we’ve been to Widewater, no one has been at the park’s pay station. There are self-pay envelopes near the window. You can either pay with cash or with a credit card. There are two pay stations at Widewater. One is at the main Visitor Center entrance, and the other is at the Potomac Picnic area. These two non-contiguous parcels are interspersed by private property. You only pay once, and you’ll be able to get into both areas.
There are large picnic shelters (at least one handicapped-accessible), two playgrounds, boat launches, and a nice visitor center with informative displays and brochures. There are nice restrooms here. The visitor center also sells cold drinks. The two car-top launches are suitable for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and are on Aquia Creek and the Potomac River. Widewater has no cabins. There are four paddle-in primitive campsites.
If you’re into hiking, you will not find a lot here. There are only two trails through the park, Long Pond Trail and Holly Marsh Trail. The first one is a mile long and runs along Aquia Creek and Long Pond. It is a loop trail that is near the visitor center. My kids really like this trail as they were able to get close to the water on Aquia Creek. They loved picking up all the shells. (We couldn’t find any trails during our visit in May 2022.) This trail is also great as there are benches along the way. Holly Marsh Trail is a wooded out-and-back hike that is approximately 1.8 miles. There’s a nice view of the Potomac River on this hike.
My kids loved playing at the playgrounds. One is near the visitor center. They played here while we waited for some friends to arrive. Then we headed to the other playground after we finished hiking. The second playground is at the Potomac Picnic area. There are two pavilions here and also individual picnic sites. There’s access to the Potomac River. During our visit in 2019, the water was low enough for us to walk along the beach. In May 2022, the water was too high. The beach was gone.
Because of the peaceful, water setting, there’s lots of wildlife to be seen at Widewater. On our most recent visit (May 2022), we saw an eagle, 3 herons, several geese, 2 snakes, and many squirrels.
Widewater may be small, but it’s a nice place to take a break especially if you like being near the water.
Things we learned:
- Stay on the trail. We encountered two black snakes. They crossed the trail and headed into the brush.
- Bring bug spray. We visited in May and forgot to bring bug spray. There were a lot of bugs. I can imagine a summer visit would be worse.
- Bring sunscreen. The playgrounds are not shaded. They can get hot.
- Watch where you’re walking. We visited after a heavy rain. Some parts of the trail were covered in water.
- Bring a baby carrier if you have little ones and plan to hike. The trails are not stroller friendly. You may be able to use a jogger along some parts of the trails.
- Bring snacks. There are no stores or food establishments nearby. The visitor center sells a few snacks.
Parking fee : $7, $10 on the weekends (April-October) and holidays *
*Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day are the holidays charged weekend rates.
Homeschooling Families are not charged parking fees at VA State Parks if they show their ID card or NOI.
Trail map can be found HERE. More information about Widewater can be found HERE. Make sure to check out the Events Page. They have a variety of activities such as Kids’ Fishing Days (June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, 2022) and Junior Ranger events.