Located within the heart of Virginia’s wine country, Lake Anna offers an abundance of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. It was once rich farmland in rural Spotsylvania County and now features 10 miles of lake frontage. In 1968, 18,000 acres of land was purchased by what is now Dominion Power to build a reservoir providing fresh water to cool the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station power plant. The power company then built the North Anna Dam, which dammed up the North Anna and Pamunkey Rivers and created Lake Anna.
On a Saturday in July, I am relieved to exit the heavy I-95 traffic and enter the summertime haven of Lake Anna State Park. After paying my park fee, I journey down the freshly paved driveway which traverses through a dense canopy of hardwood and pine trees. Several miles of driving this calm road deepens my sense of adventure and I observe multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding that extend through the woods. Reaching the end of the driveway offers a dramatic change of scenery as the trees clear and the tranquil blue lake stretches far beyond what the eye can see. In the grassy area surrounding the beach and extensive parking area, dozens of families enjoy a blissful summer afternoon with large picnics and lawn games. The air is filled with aromas of grilled meat and corn being cooked with care over charcoal grills. It is this beautiful gathering of diverse people that adds a compelling vibrancy to Lake Anna.
I decide upon a course of action for the day to include investigating some of the 15 miles of the park’s hiking trails followed by a quick swim in the lake. After orienting myself in the visitor center with the help of park rangers and trail maps, I start with the Railroad Ford Trail. To connect to the trail, I take the Old Pond Trail, which provides a fishing area for the park. This two-acre pond is designed for children and includes a wheelchair accessible pier for those with disabilities. Anglers may also cast from a boating ramp as well as from the shoreline.
The Railroad Ford Trail is a well-loved path that is shaded nicely by towering trees and traces the water’s edge. The sounds of songbirds compete with jet skis skimming the lake and joyful exclamations of boaters and other park visitors on the water. This flat, 1.4 mile trail merges with the campground trail, connecting to dozens of spacious tent and cabin camping sites available for rent. Once one is past the campground area, there is an entrance for a larger network of trails weaving through the woods and the banks of Lake Anna. There is plenty to explore at Lake Anna State Park while finding your escape from the summer heat and interstate traffic!