Heading into “The Old Dominion,” you have to understand that Virginia has a long and rich history. Aside from famous Virginians such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, among many more to have risen to the highest levels of society, many great people live in the state. I thought if I could find a lost treasure left behind by a great person, then that would make our family trip into Virginia that much more exciting.
We started our adventure with a tour of some of the best state parks the United States has to offer. Virginia has some strict regulations for metal detecting, though, so I had to call ahead to the parks to ensure I could get written permission (a permit) to use my metal detector.
After calling ahead to ensure we had permission to metal detect, we carried on with our adventures through Virginia. I’ve compiled a list of my seven favorite state parks to treasure hunt in and some info about laws, clubs, great finds, and more. This way, you’ll be well-prepared for treasure hunting in the state. Let’s start with the seven parks.
1. Bear Creek Lake State Park – Nestled In Virginia’s Woods
Our first stop was smack in Central Virginia’s Cumberland State Forest at Bear Creek Lake State Park. This gem hidden in the middle of the woods is a fantastic getaway for you and your family. There are plenty of things to do for all, which I’ll mention in a moment.
The staff at this park are friendly and professional. If you consider the environment and leave no trace, there shouldn’t be much issue getting a permit from the park manager to detect metal. Although the beach is closed from time to time for clean-up following storms, make sure you call ahead.
As mentioned, there are a lot of great things to do at this park. Some of the great things you can do at this park are:
- Boat rentals
- Lakeside snack bar (open on weekends)
Here’s how to find the Bear Creek Lake State Park – https://goo.gl/maps/Lwb33w11xS9NMaAA6
2. Holliday Lake State Park – Forests And Nature
Close to halfway between Lynchburg and Richmond, you’ll find another central Virginia State Park called Holliday Lake State Park (yes, that is the correct spelling). Another forest park, Holliday is deep in the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. If you like nature, this is the park for you.
The beach is decent at Holliday Lake SP, but there’s more to do than just swim here. You can fish and camp and boat too. Here are some of the park’s compiled highlights:
- RV camping sites
- Swimming beach
- Picnic shelters
- Boat launch
You can find this incredible park here – https://goo.gl/maps/WtJEVXnAbT8FXSgD7
3. Hungry Mother State Park – Western Virginia’s Best Kept Secret
When you look at some of those travel sites and see how some people stay in different kinds of buildings, I’m often fascinated by the construction. Because of this, I jumped at the chance to stay in a yurt for a night when we went to Hungry Mother State Park.
The park boasts some other great features as well; just remember to call ahead for your permission to metal detect. Here are a few of the park’s amenities and activities:
- Boat rentals
- Swimming Beach
You can find the Hungry Mother State Park here – https://goo.gl/maps/ueL2r9aQEQoiCykf6
4. Twin Lakes State Park – A Premiere Central VA Park
Another central Virginia State Park, Twin Lakes State Park, is southeast of Holliday Lake State Park, near a town called Farmville in Prince Edward County, Virginia. We liked this park because it has a lovely sized beach, so we were not falling all over other families when we had our beach day.
Twin Lakes has more than just a sandy swimming beach; there are plenty of things to do at the park. Here are some of the park’s activities and amenities:
- Swimming beach
- Hiking trails
You can find Twin Lakes State Park here – https://goo.gl/maps/WNm9pCS6ddihZswa7
5. Claytor Lake State Park – Bigger Lake, Bigger Adventure
Virginia has plenty of large water bodies, and Claytor Lake is one of them. The lake boasts 4,500 acres of water has about three miles of State Park frontage. There is no shortage of places to stay, with three lodges, 15 cabins, yurts, and camping available. However, when you call ahead for permission to treasure hunt, ensure you reserve your preferred accommodations.
Claytor Lake State Park offers plenty to do. The park offers hiking, fishing, boating, camping (as mentioned), swimming, and more.
Metal Detecting Tip: One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years metal detecting is not to get discouraged. There will be times when you find little to nothing. There will be times when all you find is garbage. Don’t let those times get you down. Instead, try documenting them in a journal and move to a different location each time. You’ll find your luck soon turns around. For more great tips on detecting and more, read this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
6. Lake Anna State Park – The Pride of Spotsylvania
The first time I went to Lake Anna SP, I stayed at one of the six cabins. However, I understand that the park now also offers yurts as an alternative which I find pretty interesting.
The park also offers camping, and although RVs up to 60 feet are allowed, the best you can get is electric and water hookup. There is a community bathhouse with hot showers, though.
Lake Anna State Park allows fishing and is well-known for its largemouth bass fishing. Swimming is permitted during the day at the beach, and there are also some very nice hiking trails to keep you occupied.
7. Smith Mountain Lake State Park – Blue And Turquoise Waters
In Huddleston, Virginia, you will find Smith Mountain Lake State Park. This beautiful park resides on Smith Mountain Lake’s north shore, Smith Mountain Lake being the state’s second freshwater lake.
The lake itself is beautiful and perfect for boating, swimming, and other water-borne activities. The beach is often busy, so permission to treasure hunt on hot summer days will be limited. Aim for those days or times when the beach is open but not likely to be busy. Those times are cooler and overcast days, mornings, and similar times. Ensure you call ahead to the park to arrange your permit.
Aside from the joys of treasure hunting (with permission), there are several other amenities the park offers. Some of these amenities include rental cabins and a campground, fishing and boating, and some fantastic hiking trails.
Metal Detecting Laws For Virginia
Virginia may be a beautiful state, but you still need a permit to do metal detecting in many places. Take the state parks, for example. According to Virginia State Park’s website, they only allow metal detecting on “designated manmade beaches and only with a DCR special use permit.” The permit is available at the park from the park management.
Cities within Virginia have varied rules about metal detecting. Take a look at the following list of cities and the particular rules the city imposes.
- Alexandria, VA – Written approval from the city manager is required.
- Fredericksburg, VA – Permit required.
- Glouchester County, VA – Not permitted.
- Hopewell, VA – Not allowed.
- Manassas, VA – Not permitted without permission of city council.
- Newport, VA – Written approval from parks management required.
- Petersburg, VA – Metal detecting (and possession of detectors) not permitted on city-owned properties.
- Williamsburg, VA – Written approval from parks management required.
Quick Law Recap:
- National Parks in Virginia: Not permitted.
- National Forests: Permit required from US Forest Service
- BLM Lands: Permit required for relics, non-relic no permit required. Read more at the BLM website HERE
- Virginia State Parks: Permitted in specified areas only, and you must have a permit. Read more at the state website Here
Metal Detecting Clubs In Virginia
- Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association – Fairfax, VA – This club holds regular meetings at the NRA National Firearms Museum on the first Tuesday of each month. The club was founded in 1972. – http://www.nvrha.com/index.htm
- Hampton Roads Recovery Society – Hampton, VA – A club that started in the mid-1980s, the club has active members and regular meetings. – http://www.hrrsmetaldetecting.com/index.html
- The Central Virginia Civil War Collectors Association – Glen Allen, VA – Founded in 1980 and formerly known as The Central Virginia Relic Hunters Association, this active club holds regular meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month. – http://www.cvcwca.com/
- The Rapidan River Relic Hunters Association – Unionville, VA – Founded in 2011, this club meets on the second Tuesday of the month. – https://rrrha.com/
- Tidewater Coin & Relic Club – Virginia Beach, VA – Other than stating the next meeting is in May, the website doesn’t tell us much about this club. – https://www.tc-rc.com/
Metal Detecting Tip: Dig on every hit. You never know when a tiny blip turns out to be an obstructed cache or a deep yet more extensive object. Sometimes we can pass by an incredible find by making an assumption. Just remember that you’re playing a numbers game, so the more times you dig, the more chances you have of finding something. For more great tips, take a look at this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
Metal Detecting Treasures Found In Virginia
Can you imagine losing a class ring right before graduation? That’s what happened to one such unfortunate fellow in Virginia Beach.
One day, twenty-one years later, the man got a message on Facebook. The message was from a metal detectorist who found the right, just 21 years after it had gone missing. Read the full story here – https://www.pilotonline.com/news/article_83768510-89d4-11e8-99cb-1b8b18ad8aaa.html
Metal Detecting Resources In Virginia
- MDHTALK forum has a fantastic quick reference resource for information about metal detecting laws for various cities in Virginia. Check out the reference list here. http://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=VA
- Metal Detecting Guide To Virginia Beach, VA – https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detect-virginia-beach/#:~:text=Searching%20On%20the%20Beaches,an%20approved%20special%20use%20permit.
Metal Detector Stores In Virginia For Expert Advice
- Cold Harbor Metal Detectors – Mechanicsville, VA – https://coldharbormetaldetectors.com/
- Diggers Den – Lynchburg, VA – https://www.dddetectors.com/default.asp