It had been almost exactly four years since we’d visited Westmoreland State Park on the Potomac River. It’s one of the longer day trips that we’ve done (it’s close to 3 hours, one way), but as we knew after the first visit, it’s well worth the drive!
We took I-64 East to Louisa, VA, and then back roads the rest of the way.
First view of the wide Potomac River once we were in the park:
It was in the mid-60s and incredibly windy. This made our picnic by the river a bit of a challenge, but it was so amazing to see whitecaps and big waves on the Potomac!
View to our left, and view to our right….
Two things we love about this park: the cliffs that rise up from the river, and the Bald Eagles!
After our lunch of deli sandwiches, chips and dip, we drove back up towards the visitors center to take the trail down to Fossil Beach.
The trail is just a little over a half mile long. The first part is fairly level, then there’s a long downhill stretch towards the beach. (Strange how it’s ALL uphill on the way back! 😉 ) Alrighty…. With our walking sticks in hand, off we went.
An uprooted tree was beside the trail…
And it’s been so dry here recently that some parts of the path were actually cracking. We really need a few days of rain….
Towards the bottom of the trail–still in the forest–there’s a marshy area where tall, green spikes and fronds grow in brackish water. Wayne said it was easy to imagine seeing a Stegosaurus or some other prehistoric creature in this primeval part of the park! A short distance later, however, the trail opens into a large, sunlit marsh. A boardwalk leads to an elevated observation platform.
Our next stop was Fossil Beach. Aptly named, visitors frequently find fossilized sharks’ teeth and other treasures that have been washed up. There were several people on the beach using screens and colanders to sift through the sand.
Before our first visit here, I had no idea that this type of scenery could be found in Virginia! And given the wild wind and the crashing waves, I had to keep reminding myself that I was on the banks of a large river, and not at the ocean!
“Oh, look! More Bald Eagles!
If First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is our favorite state park, Westmoreland is easily our second favorite park….
We stayed much longer than we’d originally intended, but finally, reluctantly, we started back up the trail. I mentioned that it’s a steady uphill climb? Alrighty….
We took our time and paused often to take pictures.
Just after starting the climb, a couple passed us as they headed up the trail. We all said hello and exchanged a few pleasantries, but they were definitely moving faster than we were! A little while later, the man came back down the trail because he wanted to make sure we were okay! Ah, the kindness of strangers, found even in the woods on the banks of the Potomac River. <3
As we huffed and puffed our way up the hill, I said it would be nice if our little travel trailer was set up and waiting for us in the Westmoreland campground instead of having a 3-hour drive home to look forward to. Oh well, maybe some day!
Once we reached the top of the hill, we took advantage of a conveniently-placed bench to catch our breath for a few minutes. The rest of the trail really is an easy walk. 🙂
The late afternoon sun was filtering through the trees, and Wayne said he could almost imagine we were nearing the “Emerald City.”
There were very few fall colors in the leaves, and the rich, lush green tones were all around us. Some say that the color green is associated with the heart chakra, and with that thought in mind, we paused, joined hands and said a quick prayer of healing for my cousin’s husband who’d had quintuple bypass surgery the day before. <3
When we arrived back at the visitors center, we again marveled at the view, watched more Bald Eagles riding the wind currents, and photographed a display of fossils that have been found at Westmoreland State Park.
We drove through the campground before leaving the park (nope, darn–our trailer wasn’t there!), then started the long drive home.
When we stopped at a convenience store north of Mineral, VA for coffee and water, I noticed that the moon was rising in the too-dark too-early Autumn sky.
About 10 hours and 266 miles later, we pulled back in the driveway. As always, we were thankful–sincerely thankful–for a safe journey, and for having the strength, ability, and resources to be able to visit these wondrous places around our state.