Category Archives: Hampton Roads

Lost in the New Kent Woods

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No trespassing, but my feet are invited.

Crawford State Forest is dedicated to the memory of Robert and Julia Richardson. The family was in the lumber business.

The area was donated to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation land conservation project.

Tracks intersect the trail

Marsh along the nature trail



Up-close image of a tree.

Colonial Downs, once the main horse racing park in Virginia, has been dormant the last couple of years due to a number of disputes.

The Old Tavern at New Kent Courthouse. Although it isn't clear exactly when the original structure was built, it likely was in the late 1600s. A fire in 1862 destroyed many of the county records.

In the 1968 Green vs the New Kent County Supreme Court case, the Court ruled that giving students the freedom to choose which school they attended did not go far enough to end segregation. This is actually the parking lot for the offices across the street.

The county attempts to promote bike tourism, although I am thinking adding some actual bike lanes on the narrow roads would help.

The New Kent Winery definitely had an upscale feel to it. It fit in well with some of the larger estates in the area.

St. Peter's Church dates back to 1703. Historians have mixed opinions on whether George and Martha Washington were married there. They might have been married a few miles away at the White House Plantation owned by Martha's family. Or there may not have really been a ceremony. The church itself was used by Union soldiers as a horse stable, one of many area structures damaged or destroyed during the Civil War.

Packed between a gold & silver shop and a firearms shop, Hole Family in Quinton is a true find. I had a couple of Boston Cremes that put anything you'd find at a chain store to total shame.

My Internet search for places to run in New Kent County left me with two choices.

The Cumberland Marsh Natural Area Preserve loop covered 1.4 miles, so I would would have to do at least two laps.  It did have the appeal of being a good place to see birds and having an interesting history, in that it thrived during the colonial era.

At somewhere around 3 miles, the Wahrani Nature Trail had length going for it, but posts on online message boards complained about confusing trail markings. One hiking site said that when you get lost, your best bet is to listen carefully for the sound of cars and make your way toward them.

I opted for Wahrani, hoping that the Sunday morning church traffic would be my savior if I lost my way. But as I motored down Route 60, I saw a sign for Crawford State Forest. I stopped. There was a simple trail map and a sign that welcomed people traveling on foot. Hey, why not?

The greens of spring were starting to brighten the forest. A few sections were a bit squishy, thanks to Schiminoe Creek and Chickahiminy River. The river eventually flows into the James just west of Jamestown. When the trail split, I opted to take the nature trail. It was a challenge to find the faded white markers along the overgrown path. I went off trail a few times before I turned back at around 1.5 miles.

On the way back, I started to gain confidence as I watched the trail ahead for obstacles while looking for the white markers. And then all of a sudden, I couldn’t find markers. And I heard a never-ending barrage of gun shots in the not-far-enough away distance. After a good five-minute search for white, I decided to retrace my steps. I eventually located one marker, and figured out that I needed to jump across a deep gully to find the next one. And the gun fire? Apparently, there is a place called Old Forge Sporting Clays close by.

In 1989, a family involved with the lumber trade donated the area to the Virginia Outdoors foundation land conservation project. The project has protected more than 750,000 acres.

One of New Kent County’s claims to fame is that it is where Martha Washington was born. While the history seems a bit sketchy, George Washington apparently first met her in the area and they were (by one story) married at her family plantation. The plantation was destroyed in the Civil War, as were many other structures in the area.

The county, about 38 miles east of Richmond, actually dates back to 1654. In 1758, the (no longer existing) town of Cumberland fell just three votes short of becoming the Virginia Colony capital after a fire ravaged Williamsburg. Parts of the Revolutionary and Civil wars were fought in the area.

116 runs down, 16 to go