Chippokes State Park
Face coverings are requested for all visitors inside facilities and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. Guests are requested to deposit $7 entrance fee per vehicle at the gate.
Chippokes State Park offers modern recreational activities and a glimpse of life in a bygone era. Visitors may tour the historic area with its antebellum mansion and outbuildings, and stroll through formal English gardens.
A campground and overnight cottages allow visitors to stay on the historic grounds. The park has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a visitor center with gift shop. Recreational opportunities include biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing and boating or canoeing.
In 1854, Albert Carroll Jones built the present Chippokes Mansion that overlooks the historic James River. This Italianate structure was built of brick, had stucco applied, and was painted on its river facade. At one time, Chippokes had one of the few legal distilleries in the Commonwealth. Local legend conjectures that the mansion survived the Civil War because Albert Jones sold his brandies to both sides during the war.
The plantation changed owners many times before it was bought in 1918 by Thornton Jeffress of Rochester, New York and V.W. Stewart of Wilson, North Carolina. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart moved to Chippokes and expended great effort to restore the property, and compiled a detailed history of the plantation. Upon her husband's death in 1967, Mrs. Stewart, in order to preserve the farm in its entirety, donated Chippokes Plantation to the Commonwealth as a memorial to her husband. Mrs. Stewart hoped that it would become a park and would be preserved as a working farm to interpret day-to-day farm life through the centuries.
Chippokes is one of the oldest continually farmed properties in the country, retaining its original 1619 boundaries of 1,683 acres. The Farm and Forestry Museum at the park offers displays of antique farm and forestry equipment, tools, and housewares.
Chippoax Trace Trail
Hidden under the trees at Chippokes State Park lies a subtle trail where guests can literally take a step back into history. Today the trail is tranquil and quiet, enabling one to relax and take in all the natural beauty of the area. However, in the late 1660's this would have been a bustling dirt road filled with farmers and oxcarts taking their products to the James River to sell.
"Chippoax Road", the first documented road on the south side of the James River, was the lifeline that connected the early settlers' farms to Cobham Wharf where they would sell their goods and subsequently send them by ship to consumers in the colony and abroad. The road, although highly valued by local farmers, was sometimes a torment to the property owners at Chippokes Farm who were responsible for its maintenance. In 1802, and again in 1812, the Paradise family petitioned the Governor to have the road closed. This was never permitted; and by the mid-1800's then owner, Albert Carroll Jones, not only owned Cobham Wharf but also had installed a toll house where the road came onto Chippokes Farm property and was charging farmers and merchants for its use.
While only a remnant of the original road exists today within the Chippokes State Park property, original maps of the area show that portions of the road were eventually paved and make up some of the Virginia Department of Transportation secondary road network currently traveled by motorists in Surry County.
Seemingly lost to history, Chippokes Park staff began research into the road in 2002, and with the assistance of the Youth Conservation Corps, park staff and district resource specialists were able to create the Chippoax Trace Trail in 2013.
Today, the trail follows a section of the road from the housekeeper's cabin, between cabins 2 and 3, in the historic area of the park and winds along the sides of cultivated fields and through wooded areas for a beautiful view of College Run Creek. It is a one mile trail which serves as a "down and back" hike, although future plans will connect it to another existing trail within the park leading to the Farm and Forestry Museum.
Chippoax Trace Trail is a unique opportunity to experience our country's history in a different way. It provides a link to the farmers, fishermen, merchants, and enslaved people for whom this road was a pathway to survival.