Bear Creek Lake State Park is a Virginia State Park located in Cumberland, Virginia right on the shores of, you guessed it, the 40 acre Bear Creek Lake! Set in the middle of the Cumberland State Forest, the park features a campground with multiple sections, a swimming beach on the lake and lots of hiking trails both long and short. Here's all you need to know about Bear Creek Lake State Park.
The main reason I have visited Bear Creek Lake State Park is to go camping. Both of my trips came at the last minute. This seems to be your best bet if other campgrounds in VA are booked full. All 3 camp loops have paths that lead to the swimming area and to fishing spots along the lake.
BLACK OAK & CHESTNUT LOOP: There are 3 different "loops" of campground. The 2 main car pull in loops with water & electric are pretty much the worst campsites in all of Virginia State Parks (hence the availability described above). They are the Black Oak loop and the Chestnut loop.
Beyond Recommendation: DO NOT CAMP IN THE 2 MAIN LOOPS
These 2 sections are located just feet from the main road as well as the road through the tiny campground loop and your tent is basically on top of the person next to you. The guy in the tent next to us kept us up all night snoring. It was a horrible experience.
The showers are located in the Chestnut loop, so if you stay there everyone from the 2 loops AND the group camp loop will be walking to use the bathroom all night. Even at 2am there were people in the bathroom. When the campground is fairly full you will never have bathroom privacy.
ACORN LOOP: The other campground, the Acorn loop, is located right next to the main entrance of the park and is right on top of the lake. This has 2 really amazing sites right on the water which is awesome. However, it appears to be first come first served so snagging these spots you'd have to be lucky (or call ahead maybe).
Beyond Recommendation: Great Lakeside Sites Are A11 (Best) - A8
You are not allowed to swim anywhere in the lake except the swimming beach (free to campers). The beach area is Ok, but unlike most state parks there is no floating dock to jump off of. You basically can just swim around, lay out in the sand, or have a picnic on the grass.
The park has several very short under 2 mile walking trails. They aren't much and you can hike them all pretty quickly. Nothing amazing here. There are also 2 super long hiking trails (14 & 16 Miles) that leave the park and go through the State Forest. The only trail we took were the paths that lead to the beach.
You can also rent canoes by the beach area at certain times. Also, if you are into fishing there are a few spots on the Catfish Interpretive Trail with tackle box & lantern holders as well as benches. I've never caught anything there.
You can get firewood while the camp store is open. They have barely anything for sale and they do not have live bait. According to the web site they have WIFI at the campgrounds, although I never tested it. Phone reception sucks out there.
Beyond Recommendation: Get supplies & make calls early. Reception is bad. Closest Walmart is 30 minutes away. There is a gas station a few miles down the road but it sucks.