The land that comprises Cumberland State Forest has a long history of farming. Evidence of the land's former inhabitants can be seen in the cemeteries and old homesteads scattered throughout the forest. By the mid-1930s, much of this land had become unproductive and was highly eroded. At that time, the federal government began purchasing marginal farmland under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, enacted to help conserve and restore the health of the land. Much of this purchased land was soon leased to the state. In 1954, the federal government deeded land to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Cumberland State Forest was born. Under the Virginia Department of Forestry's management, the forest grew to its present 16,222 acres in central Virginia's Cumberland County.
Cumberland State Forest is rich in history.
The Charles Irving Thornton tombstone, with an inscription written by Charles Dickens, is on the National Register of Historical Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Also at Cumberland State Forest, a marker is placed on the site of Jesse Thomas' homestead. Colonel Jesse Thomas rode his famous horse “Fearnaught” through the night to warn Baron Von Steuben that Cornwallis was coming, thus saving Von Steuben with his 800 men and the Continental Army's sole remaining supplies in Virginia.
One management goal on the Cumberland State Forest is sustainable timber production. Management activities on the State Forest demonstrate good forestry and conservation practices and provide sites for applied research in forestry. Wildlife habitat, recreation, and watershed protection are all compatible with sound timber management strategies.
In the 1930s, much of today's forest was open farmland. When farming ceased, native pines colonized the abandoned fields. Today, the Cumberland State Forest contains a diversity of timber types, including loblolly pine stands and mature oak-hickory forest.
A State Forest Use Permit may be required for visitors to the state forests.
Motorized vehicles of any type are prohibited on all of the state forests.
Camping is not permitted on the forest. Permanent campsites are installed inside Bear Creek Lake State Park.
Canoeing is permitted on Bear Creek Lake.
A Virginia fishing license is required to use the five lakes located within the forest:
There are two self-guided trails at Cumberland State Forest that are open for walking, hiking, horses, and mountain bikes. All motorized vehicles are prohibited on these state forest trails. The forest also has various gated trails and forest roads that can be used.
Cumberland Multi-Use Trail. This 14-mile loop trail weaves through the State Forest and Bear Creek Lake State Park. Trailheads are located at the Cumberland Forestry Center and Bear Creek Lake State Park. The trail is marked by blue blazes painted on trees approximately every 150-200 yards.
Willis River Hiking Trail. This 16-mile loop trail follows the Willis River that borders the Forest. The trail is marked by white blazes painted on trees every 150-200 yards.
While traveling through the forest, you will observe several different and unique environments. Oak-hickory forests, stands of Loblolly Pine, and harvested areas attract many different forms of wildlife. White-tailed deer, wild turkey and bobcats are common residents of this productive and well managed natural resource.
Coggins Test Certificates must be available for each horse on State lands. We recommend that equestrians dismount and lead their horse over bridges and across streams.
Hunting is permitted on the Cumberland State Forest.
All persons, except those legally exempt under Virginia law, must carry a valid Virginia hunting license AND a State Forest Permit to hunt or trap on the forest.
State Forest hunting regulations and seasons follow those of the county in which the State Forest is located. Check the Virginia Department Of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information for special restrictions on State Forest lands, such as Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days.
Hunting is allowed on most of the forest, however, hunting is prohibited in the following safety zones (surrounding areas of):
Wear blaze orange during hunting season.
One shelter is available on the forest at Winston Lake on Route 629. Permanent structures are set up within Bear Creek Lake State Park.
Permitted in Bear Creek Lake.
To ensure your safety, read our complete state forest regulations before visiting a forest.
Last modified: Wednesday, 08-Apr-2015 09:15:28 EDT