Hike along old plantation carriage roads to a beach loaded with fossils.

From the parking area at the visitor center, pick up the Backbone Trail marked with gold blazes.  The trails are well marked with signage and arrows.  Follow the Backbone Trail for 2 miles under you reach the trail junction of Powhatan Forks Trail.  After a half mile the this trail splits with the Riverview Trail on the right.

The Riverview Trail is 1.5 miles long and ends at a sand beach along the York River.  Most of the trails here are carriage roads but most of the Riverview Trail is single track. 

When you reach the beach explore around but be sure to go left (with the York River on your right) for the highest concentration of fossils.  The park does show directions to a fossil beach on the park map but this has been picked dry.  I learned about this beach from a park ranger at York River.  The fossils consist of scallop shells and petrified large barnacles but shark teeth can also be found.  The park service permits each person to take one fossil.

This is a great outing, especially for families with inquisitive children.  Note, there is a $4 entrance fee.  There is a self pay kiosk or you can go into the visitor center where they have a gift shop and small museum. 

Pack List

  • Light hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Lunch/snacks
  • Bag to carry your fossil
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RT Distance 7.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 150 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

First Day Hike

Wanted to see how my corgi and I would do on a longer (for us) hike. Jan 1, 2018. No entrance fee for this day. Cold (26*F). Trail is mostly flat and wide. The shore of the river had ice so we didn't stay long-long enough for snacks and treats! And we went left on the beach but didn't find any fossils. Didn't look too hard though. Only saw about 10 people on the trail.


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