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The John H. Kerr Reservoir, better known as Buggs Island Lake, at Occoneechee State Park in Virginia

Buggs Island Lake, at Occoneechee State Park in Virginia. Photo: Wikipelli, Wikimedia

Beautiful Occoneechee State Park is located along Buggs Island Lake, near Clarksville in Mecklenburg County. This 2,698 acre public recreation area is only a 2 hour drive from Richmond or 2 ½ from Roanoke.

This Virginia state park is named for the natives who lived here for hundreds of years – the Occaneechi Indians. Today the park hosts nature and historical programs to educate visitors on these indigenous people and on the rich history of the area.

Nestled along Virginia’s largest lake, Occoneechee State Park is a popular spot for fishing and boating. Visitors have also enjoyed swimming, hiking, horseback riding and camping here since 1968.

Activities at Occoneechee State Park

You’ll be sure to enjoy your time at this picturesque park whether you visit for the day or spend a few nights. Enjoy a relaxing day here and swim, boat, fish, explore the trails and have a picnic next to the Splash Pad.

Make sure to save some time to check out the Visitor Center. Inside you’ll discover The Occoneechee Story living hut and artifacts and a year round gift shop that sells Native American merchandise, apparel, souvenirs and educational resources.

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

Swimming at Occoneechee State Park

There are not any designated swimming areas within the park and you may swim anywhere along the shoreline, at your own risk. This is convenient for guests camping or staying in a cabin along the lake.

There’s also a Splash Pad area with a playground, picnic shelter, grills and restrooms. This is a great place to hang out on a hot summer day!

Boating at Occoneechee State Park

Boating on Buggs Island Lake is popular year round on the state’s largest lake. Both motorized and non motorized boats are allowed access to the lake and there are 3 boat ramps conveniently located within the park.

Boat rentals are available through Clarksville Water Sports, a local private concessionaire. Rent a pontoon boat, a kayak or a paddleboard and spend a relaxing day on the lake during your visit.

The Marina has slip rentals for those bringing their own boats and 6 of these are available for overnight guests.

Fishing at Occoneechee State Park

Buggs Island Lake is known locally as one of the best locations for catching bass (largemouth, white and striped) and catfish (up to 100 lbs!). Others you may catch are bluegill, crappie, perch, walleye and channel fish.

You may fish from your boat, shoreline or off the dock at boat ramp 2 (as long as you are not blocking the ramp). Remember to pick up a Virginia freshwater fishing license ahead of time.

Trails at Occoneechee State Park

More than 20 miles of trails are located in and around Occoneechee State Park. Inside of the park there are 14.7 miles of hiking trails and another 7.2 miles – the multi-use Panhandle trail – extends into the adjacent wildlife management area.

Here are a few of the popular trails:

  • Tutelo Birding Trail – An easy one mile mostly level path through the woods to a raised viewing platform. A guided pamphlet is available at the park office.
  • Big Oak Nature Trail – A moderate .8 mile single track through the hardwood and pine forest.
  • Beaver Pond Trail – A 5.2 mile easy trail through the woods and out to Beaver Pond that starts near the equestrian campground.
  • Panhandle Multi-Use Trail – Easy trail through the woods with stunning views of the lake, wildflower fields, butterflies and many birds and animals.

Archery at Occoneechee State Park

The park has a 10-target outdoor archery range with 10 to 30 yard lanes. There is no available equipment to rent inside of the park, guests must bring their own. For equipment check out Buggs Island Archery at 11857 US-15 in Clarksville.

Wildlife Viewing at Occoneechee State Park

Many species of songbird, waterfowl and raptor may be seen throughout Occoneechee State Park. The lake, woodlands and wildflower fields create an ideal sanctuary for many living things.

While you’re birdwatching, keep an eye out for cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, robins, blue jays, woodpeckers, mourning doves, house wren, sparrows and goldfinches. You’ll probably also see deer, rabbits, squirrels,

chipmunks, groundhogs, opossum, turtles, ducks and wild turkeys; as well as frogs, snakes and many insects that live among the trails and water’s edge.

Camping at Occoneechee State Park

Occoneechee State Park has many choices for overnight accommodations – tent and RV camping, equestrian camping, lake view cabins and lodges, yurts and a bunkhouse.

The camping season runs from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December. The rustic cabins and lodges are open year round for reservations.

Here’s a closer look at each of these accommodations:

  • Campground – the park has 45 campsites, some with water and electric hookups (inquire when making reservations). Most sites are shaded and some are located along the shoreline. Each campsite has a picnic table and grill and access to nearby modern bathhouses.
  • Equestrian Camping – A separate camping area close to the trails has 11 campsites and 11 covered horse stalls. These sites are 100’ x 24’ and have 50amp electric connections, portable water and vault toilets. Also in this area is a central wash-down rack and a 75’ diameter exercise ring.
    *Make sure to bring a negative Coggins Report for each horse*
  • Yurts – The 3 yurts are located in a wooded section of the park where there is more shade and privacy. Each yurt sleeps 3 and has a dining table, chairs, sofa, large wooden deck, picnic table, a grill, fire ring and water spigot. There’s no electricity, heat or air conditioning and no smoking, cooking or pets allowed inside. Bring your own linens and extra sleeping bags if needed.
  • Bunkhouse – The Bunkhouse is a 3 room climate controlled trailer that sleeps up to 14 guests. It has 7 bunk beds, a refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker and electric outlets plus a deck, fire ring, and picnic shelter.
  • Cabins – The park has 11 cabins – either 2 bedrooms (sleep 6) or 3 bedrooms (sleep 8) and many with views of the lake. Each cabin has a fully equipped kitchen and combined dining and living room area with rustic furniture plus an outside wraparound deck. Cabins do not have a dishwasher, washer/dryer, telephone, tv or linens.
  • Lodges – The 2 family sized lodges each sleep up to 16 and have gorgeous views of the lake. Each lodge has 6 bedrooms, 3 baths and an open floor plan kitchen, dining area and living room, all with comfortable rustic style furniture. They also each have a large front and back porch with a picnic table and grill.

Whether you stay in a cabin or lodge you will need to bring your own linens, pillows, warm blankets (it can get very chilly at night), food, dishwashing liquid, dish towels, coffee and filters, salt and pepper, bath towels and toiletries and activities such as board games, cards, magazines and books.

Pets at Occoneechee 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 your pet and do not leave them unattended at any time.

Occoneechee Wildlife Management Area at Occoneechee State Park

Adjacent to Occoneechee State Park is a 1900 acre section of land with additional multi-use trails, birdwatching, nature and hunting. Parking for the Occoneechee Wildlife Management Area can be found in the Equestrian Area.

Park Location

Occoneechee State Park
1192 Occoneechee Park Rd
Clarksville, VA 23927
Phone: 434.374.2210




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