(Last Updated On: )

sun shines through trees onto water at clinch river state park in virginia

Beautiful Clinch River. Photo: Park Facebook page

Clinch River State Park is located along the Clinch River in St. Paul at the heart of the Appalachians.

The Clinch River is considered to be the most bio-diverse river in the world, second only to the mighty Amazon.

By creating a public recreation area around it the state hopes to raise awareness and appreciation while at the same time preserving it for generations to come.

This Virginia state park is currently under development but once completed will be the first blueway state park in Virginia, consisting of multiple access points along the 100 mile stretch of Clinch River.

While some of these access points will be inside of the park, the majority will be through partnerships with local businesses.

The first developed area of Clinch River State Park, the Sugar Hill Unit, has 400 acres of trails, picnic areas and river access plus remnants of an 18th Century French settlement.

The name, Sugar Hill, comes from the maple syrup production that existed here during the 1930s.


Visit this peaceful rustic area and explore its trails and waterways.

Pack a picnic and set off on Sugar Hill Loop Trail to have lunch at the covered picnic area near the old settlement inside of the park.

Discover this quiet paradise and listen to nature all around you.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Clinch River State Park:

Fishing at Clinch River State Park

fishing for walleye at clinch river in virginiaDuring your visit to Clinch River State Park try your hand at fishing, by boat or shore.

Access to bank fishing can be found along the Riverside Trail.

The Clinch River is popular with local anglers since it’s thought to contain more fish species than any other river in the state!

Bass, sunfish, catfish, walleye, crappie and many more types have been caught here.

Remember to pick up a Virginia freshwater fishing license before heading over to the park. Licenses may be purchased online.

Boating at Clinch River State Park

A public boat launch onto the Clinch River can be found at Artrip in Russell County (another part of Clinch River State Park as yet undeveloped).

Spend the day exploring the waterways by canoe, kayak or paddle boat.

Trails at Clinch River State Park

The Sugar Hill Trail System at Clinch River State Park has 9 miles of moderate to difficult trails that wind through wooded inclines, meadows and along the river.

The trail head is accessible from St. Paul’s Oxbow Lake, by crossing the low water dam and turning left past the green gate.

Sugar Hill Loop Trail is a 3.5 mile scenic trail that passes through the woods, wildflower meadows and out to the river.

Due to the incline and possible difficulty in certain areas, benches are scattered throughout. A covered picnic area is located along the way at the old settlement.

Sugar Hill Loop is the only trail open for mountain bikes as well as hikers. No bikes are permitted on the Americorps, Riverside, Hillside, Cliff and Rock Bluff trails.

Wildlife at Clinch River State Park

The woodlands and meadow area around the river offer plentiful opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. Virginia’s state bird, the red-plummaged cardinal, is a common sight as well as blue jays, chickadees, sparrows and the eastern bluebird.

Other wildlife that you may see while hiking or picnicking here are deer, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and wild turkeys. And frogs, turtles and salamanders are most noticeable near the river’s edge.

Pets at Clinch River State Park

Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet or in an enclosed area. Please clean up after them and do not leave them unattended.

Lodging Near Clinch River State Park

Clinch River currently doesn’t have a campground or overnight facilities. But here are a few options for lodging nearby:

  • Clinch River Family Campground – 7237 State Rte 625, Duffield
    A cozy wooded campground that has tent and full hookup RV campsites with riverfront views of Clinch River. Trails, boating, fishing, swimming and tubing are featured at this pet friendly family campground.
  • Western Front Hotel – 3025 Fourth Ave, St. Paul
    This luxury hotel is only a half mile from Clinch River State Park. Enjoy your stay in one of their deluxe Queen or King Suites that comfortably sleep 2 to 8.
  • The Sugar Maple Inn – 112 Dougherty St, Nickelsville
    If you’re looking for something a bit more homey check out this century old landmark Bed & Breakfast only 11 miles from Clinch River State Park. Relax in a rocking chair on the Inn’s wrap around porch after a busy day exploring the park.

Attractions Near Clinch River State Park

Still searching for more outdoor adventures? If you’re interested in discovering more trails and opportunities to explore nature and birdwatch then check out these places nearby:

  • Wetlands Estonoa Learning Center – 3126 Deacon Dr, St. Paul. Discover miles of trails within this bio-diverse wetland habitat.
  • Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail – 3028 Fourth Ave, St. Paul. Explore 125 miles of paved path, gravel trails and rail trails.
  • Spearhead Trails & ATV – 512 Front St E, Coeburn. Information on the 7 nearby trail systems and over 600 miles of trails for ATVs, hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, birding and kayak access.
  • Jefferson National Forest –Large protected area that offers visitors miles of trails plus picnic areas and campgrounds.

Park Location

Clinch River State Park
Alt Rt US-58 Sugar Hill Loop
St. Paul, VA 24283
Phone: 276.254.5487


Open Daily 6am – dusk

The Park Office is located in the Oxbow Center, in St. Paul, and is by appointment only at this time.

Parking for the Sugar Hill Unit is located east of the low water dam in St. Paul.



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Clinch River State Park: