Machicomoco State Park

Description

Located in southern Gloucester County, Machicomoco State Park is situated between Cedarbush and Timberneck creeks approximately 12 miles from the mouth of the York River. The word Machicomoco is Algonquin for “special meeting place”, and considering the Park’s goal of fostering a greater public appreciation for the legacy, significance, and culture of Indigenous Peoples to the local region, the site is aptly named.

Comprised of 645 acres, Machicomoco State Park contains a high diversity of habitats ideal for wildlife viewing including tidal marshes and wetlands, farmed fields, shrubby grasslands, longleaf pine stands, and mixed forest which make this one of the premier wildlife viewing locations along the Commonwealth’s Middle Peninsula.

The main park road is a paved 3.1 mile loop which can be driven at leisure with multiple adjoining parking areas that allow visitors to pull off and explore the variety of habitats and onsite amenities as they see fit. American kestrels and Eastern meadowlarks are a relatively common occurrence in the road-adjacent fields which, when flooded, create ideal habitat that migratory shorebirds such as upland sandpipers and black-bellied plovers may find attractive.

One of multiple water access points on site, this pier connects to the Interpretive Trail and provides scenic views of Timberneck Creek.

The Park has multiple direct access points to the surrounding tidal marshes which may reward quiet viewers with an opportunity to spy on the wading birds that are regularly seen foraging along the nearby oyster beds and periwinkle snail-covered cordgrass. Be sure to scan the water in these areas as Atlantic bottlenose dolphin have been seen on multiple occasions from the accessible car top launch.

Besides the paved loop trail which runs parallel to the main road, visitors can also explore approximately 3 miles of hard-packed soil trails on foot in search of various migrants depending on the time of year. The Interpretive Area contains engaging educational displays related to Virginia’s Indigenous Peoples and is surrounded by open grasslands where savannah, chipping, and field sparrows regularly flock. The 0.7 mile Interpretive Trail connects this area to an overlook which is ideal for setting up a spotting scope and scanning the sandbars for migratory shorebirds such as American oystercatchers, gulls, and terns or waterfowl dabbling and diving in the surrounding channels of Timberneck Creek.

Historical Notes:

Machicomoco State Park was established ten miles downstream of Werowocomoco, the capital of the historic Powhatan Confederacy. The Powhatan Confederacy was a conglomerate of approximately 32 Algonquin speaking tribes. It was formed and led under the rule of Chief Wahunseca, more commonly known as Chief Powhatan. The lands of Machicomoco were used as hunting grounds and the shorelines were used as oyster camps by the Powhatan Peoples. Evidence of these oyster camps have been found in the form of oyster middens within the park.

This mist granite map, located in the Interpretive Area, shows the historic locations of the tribes that made up the Powhatan Confederacy along with important landmarks throughout Tsenacomacoh.

Many years after the colonization of the Virginia Indians’ lands, the Timberneck House, the only remaining historic structure within the park today, was built by the Mann family in 1793. The home was completed four years later and eventually owned by the Catlett family, whom the Catlett Islands are named after. Today, you can still see the islands from the Timberneck House sitting in the York River, formally known to the Powhatans Peoples as the Pamunkey River.

The Timberneck House (c.1793), is included on The National Register of Historic Places. The house is located in the Interpretive Area on site and is currently undergoing restoration.

Directions

Physical Address: 3601 Timberneck Farm Road, Hayes, VA 23072

From US-17N, after crossing the Coleman Bridge, travel approximately 5 miles then turn left onto Providence Road. Continue down Providence Road for about 1.5 miles, then make a left turn onto Borden Road. At the end of Borden, about 0.7 mile, turn left at the circle onto Timberneck Farm Road where you will find the park entry gate.

 

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Email: machicomoco@dcr.virginia.gov; phone: (804) 642-2419
  • Website
  • Access: Parking fee required, Daily, Hours: 8 a.m. - dusk

Birds Recently Seen at Machicomoco State Park (as reported to eBird)

  • Clapper Rail
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Bald Eagle
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • American Crow
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Wren
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Hermit Thrush

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Bike Trails
  • Camping
  • Fee
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms
  • Kayak/Canoe Launch