One of Virginia’s original state parks lies among the Allegheny Mountains, only an hour’s drive from Roanoke.
This large public recreation area surrounds Douthat Lake and offers visitors a chance to swim, boat, fish, camp, picnic and explore the trails throughout the woods and up into the mountains.
This traditional family park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the early 1930s.
These young men built the dam and spillway, cabins, a restaurant, information center, picnic areas and beach area.
Today this Virginia State Park is on the National Register of Historic Places because of how its design influenced the development of other parks throughout the country.
During your visit to Douthat State Park you’ll have opportunities to explore trails, camp, picnic, shop in the gift shop and eat in the seasonal Douthat Lakeview Restaurant.
The park also offers guided hikes, children’s programs, crafts, canoe tours and other special events.
If you’re looking for a special place to hold a wedding, reunion or other large gathering consider having it here inside of the park.
Douthat State Park has an amphitheater, picnic shelters and a restaurant that overlooks the lake. And the beautiful Alleghany Room seats up to 65.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Douthat State Park:
Swimming at Douthat State Park
Douthat State Park has a nice sandy beach area with a roped-off swimming section, and swimming is only allowed in this area and not elsewhere in the park.
The beach area, which is open from May until October, has a snack bar, picnic area and restrooms nearby.
Boating at Douthat State Park
Only non-gas powered boats are permitted on the Douthat Lake. Bring your own boat or rent one inside the park. Rentals offered include Funyaks, Jon boats, canoes, paddle boats, hydrobikes and paddle boards.
Boat launches are also available and there isn’t an extra fee required for use.
Fishing at Douthat State Park
Trout fishing is popular at Douthat State Park. The park has 4 miles of streams that are stocked twice a week with rainbow, brook and brown trout during the fee season.
There’s also a special kids area for trout fishing on Wilson Creek just below the dam.
Other fish you may catch here are largemouth bass, sunfish, black crappie, channel catfish and chain pickerel.
Remember to pick up a Virginia fishing license ahead of time. You can purchase one online here.
Trails at Douthat State Park
Douthat State Park has more than 43 miles of well maintained hiking trails rated easy to difficult.
The trails wind throughout this heavily wooded park, crossing streams and creeks, past rock formations and leading out to the lake.
Many of these trails are open for mountain biking and a separate 6 miles of bridle trails are available for those who wish to bring their horses along. A horse trailer parking lot is located at the Flat Run Trailhead.
Here are a few of the popular trails here:
- Blue Suck Falls Trail – A 5.5 mile trail that is rated difficult because of its upward climb to reach several overlooks and the waterfall. Lookout Rock is located at the 2 mile point. This scenic trail crosses over creeks, wildflower patches and passes man-made rock benches.
- Beard’s Gap Hollow Trail – This 2 mile moderate trail leads through the woods and out to the lake. It crosses rocky streams and creeks and passes many old rock formations.
- Brushy Hollow Trail – A 6.9 mile moderate trail that leads to the summit and 360 degree views of the mountains around the park.
Wildlife Viewing at Douthat State Park
Opportunities for birdwatching are everywhere at Douthat State Park.
Some you can expect to see during your visit are cardinals, hawks, woodpeckers, bluejays, robins, sparrows, warblers and thrushes.
The lake, streams and heavily wooded areas are great places to catch sight of white-tailed deer, rabbits, foxes, turtles and possibly a black bear. You’ll probably also see many squirrels, chipmunks, frogs and snakes.
Lodging at Douthat State Park
While visiting the area spend a few relaxing nights inside Douthat State Park. The park offers campsites for tenting and RVs as well as cabins and lodges that can accommodate parties up to 18.
The quiet campground has 87 mostly shaded tent or RV sites, some with views of the lake.
These sites have 30- and 50-amp connections and water, but no sewer (a dump station is located inside of the park).
Each site has a picnic table, grill and lantern hook. Modern bathhouses are available nearby.
The Beaver Dam section of the campground has equestrian campsites and 14 covered stalls that are rented separately.
These sites are conveniently located near the bridle trails.
The park also has 32 cozy cabins with rustic furniture, fully equipped kitchens, small bathrooms and open living and dining areas.
Each cabin has a porch with rocking chairs and views of the peaceful woods around it.
Note: Some of the historic cabins are currently being renovated.
Three large lodges close by have either 5-6 bedrooms and can accommodate 15, 16 or 18 guests.
Each lodge also has 2-3 bathrooms, an open concept living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer and an inside fireplace.
No linens are provided for the cabins or lodges, and you may also want to bring a warm blanket along with pillows, sheets and bath towels.
You should also bring food, salt and pepper, dish detergent, dish towels, coffee and filters, and activities such as board games, cards and books.
If you do forget something you can always check for it at the camp store or take a drive into nearby Millboro.
Pets at Douthat 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. The camping areas are pet friendly. Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended.
Attractions Near Douthat State Park
For shopping, dining, arts & entertainment and nightlife visit Roanoke, only one hour south of Douthat State Park.
If you do visit Roanoke be sure to check out:
Searching for more hiking trails and nature to explore? Check out Jefferson National Forest for excellent outdoor activities.
Douthat State Park
14239 Douthat State Park Rd
Millboro, VA 24460
Open Daily 6am – 10pm
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Douthat State Park: