Pohick Bay sits roughly 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. and is essentially an extension of the Potomac River. The waters here are ideal for a nice day on the water in all sorts of watercraft. For paddlers, there are plenty of options for exploring by canoe and kayak. Hug the coastline and explore what the pristine Pohick Bay Regional Park has to offer, including an abundance of wildlife and clear waters that let you see down upwards of six feet in some places. Or you can head up Pohick Creek and find a beautiful wetland area with a wide range of wildlife as well, but in a more secluded area.
What Makes It Great
The abundance of wildlife in the area is spectacular. Who would think that being so close to the city paddling in the area would provide many opportunities to see bald eagles, great blue herons, ospreys, egrets, turtles, deer, and many varieties of fish. You can paddle out on your own (with a buddy of course), or head out on the water with a tour group—a great option for folks making their first visit to the park or if they're new to the area. The park offers three-hour long morning, sunset, moonlight, and fall color tours available depending on the time of year, which are perfect for those looking for a guided view into DC’s “wild.”
The park also offers stand up paddling (SUP) lessons (for free!) and nature tours. Guides take you along the shoreline and into the marsh area to admire the views and see the wildlife. This is quite a different experience from canoeing and kayaking providing the paddler the feeling of walking on water. These tours range in length from two to three hours, and are offered in the morning and at sunset.
In addition to the bay itself and its miles of amazing paddling options, Pohick Bay Regional Park also contains miles of hiking trails, an outdoor swimming pool, a golf course and mini golf course, a water park, and lots of other amenities. There's also a place to rent boats, a public boat launch ramp, a shore boat launch area, and a spot for fishing from the shore.
Who is Going to Love It
Paddlers of all skill levels can find something they like at Pohick Bay. Newbies can take a stand up paddling class to learn the ropes. Nature enthusiasts can take a guided tour and see wildlife in its natural habitat. Experienced paddlers can take a tour or head out with a buddy, making up their own adventure as they go. Renting a canoe or a kayak and hugging the shoreline is a great option for families with young children, or just plop the little one of the front of the stand up paddleboard and paddle away.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Washington, D.C., point your car south and get onto 95 south once you're out of the city, via 395 south. Take 95 to exit 163, and go left onto Lorton Road. Then go right on Lorton Market Street, which turns into Gunston Cove Road, and then go left onto Pohick Bay Drive.
There is a small entrance fee (cash only) to enter the park, and once you get inside there are plenty of parking areas sprinkled throughout.