Willis River Trail

Cumberland, Virginia 23040

Willis River Trail

Willis River Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Cumberland State Forest is the second largest in the state forest system, and the Willis River Trail is the longest hiker-only trail in any of Virginia’s state forests.

From the flat land along the Willis River, the trail passes through oak and yellow poplar forest, under plantations of Virginia and loblolly pines, and past old farm sites. Beaver keep active in the swamps. There are also signs of turkey and fox in the sand along the river."

Willis River Trail Reviews

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This trail proved to be more difficult than indicated by the terrain. There are numerous areas where fallen trees block the trail. At some points, it was almost like the state park system was experimenting with an obstacle course. Never had any issues with water like George did. The streams were relatively low and easy to ford. Although I didn't stop at the campsites, they did appear a little boggy so I don't know if I would stay at any of them. Otherwise it's a decent hike and you are rewarded at the end with the views from the bridge. Keep your pack fairly light, and take a pair of trekking poles. Also, I ran across hunters at two different places, so make sure you have blaze orange on.
The southern end of the trail is pleasant enough and reasonably well-marked, but some of it is along a state highway and state park roads. At approximately mile 7.5, the trail is entirely flooded by a large and wide waterway. We were able to bushwack around it and return to the trail at approximately mile 7.1. The primitive campsite is under water and approximately 1 mile beyond the trail is again flooded with no apparent opportunity to go around. The flooding appears to be more than seasonal high water. It could be the result of beaver activity, but whatever the cause, the northern end and the southern end are separated in a way that precludes through hiking.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
8 hours
Open daily year-round, dawn to dusk. Hunting is permitted within the forest, and foresters report heaviest use from mid-Nov through the first weekend in Jan.
Swimming, Hunting
Additional Use
Cumberland State Forest, Cumberland, (804) 492-4121, www.dof.virginia.gov/stforest/cumberland.htm
Local Contacts
USGS Whiteville, Gold Hill
Local Maps