Powhatan State Park & Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery 

By: Nolan Shigley

Powhatan State Park

www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/powhatan

Although a brief paddling trip, there is much to see along the river and creek at the new Powhatan State Park, and of course, an abundance of exploration awaits back on land. Having just opened a couple of years ago, the park is already popular with outdoors and wildlife enthusiasts, as it hosts a variety of natural habitats. The park sits splendidly on a beautiful bend in the river, where vast hardwood forest meets America’s most historic river. An impressive amount of meadows is found throughout the 1,500 acres, as well. Quite possibly, my favorite aspect of Powhatan State Park is the canoe-in campground that makes traveling long distance on the river much more accessible. One paddling option is to have two vehicles, one at the state park boat launch, and another at Maidens Bridge (Route 522) waiting for you in the public boat launch parking area. This creates a worry-free, and much easier point-to-point trip following the bend of the river. Although an out-and-back trip is quite doable in the summer during low water and slow current, I would not recommend this option in the spring, when you will almost always encounter deep, swift water. As I entered the creek, I paddled under the aqueduct, reminiscent of an ancient Scottish stone bridge one may encounter in the Highland countryside. Once I entered, I was immediately aware of the tranquility, as nature embraced me with a canopy of fresh green and the songs of birds. Paw Paws displayed their beautiful red wine colored blooms, while black and white Zebra Swallowtails floated lazily among their host tree. Common Yellowthroat Warblers and Cardinals chirped, while Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers pounded trees for insects. A lone Louisiana Waterthrush walked the near shore, constantly bobbing its tail in search of small frogs or fish. Although a downed tree kept me from exploring the stream much further, I was satisfied with simply sitting and listening to the forest speak.

Though my time on the creek was calming, the return trip was nothing of the sort. The paddle upstream was a dream in which you run, but get no closer to your destination. With deltoids and core working overtime, I struggled mightily, paddling with full force. The cost for pausing a mere second was several feet in the wrong direction. Watching the shore was not an option, as it threw me off course and defeated my confidence. I was barely moving. Thankfully, I had spent little to no energy on my way out, as every ounce would be demanded in order to set eyes on the Powhatan State Park boat launch again. It may have taken a mere 20-30 minutes to reach the creek, but it was well over an hour for the return.

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Goochland, Virginia

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery prides itself in being a “water-conscious brewery”, as they utilize deep drawn well water and purify their used water before it is released in the creek’s watershed. I suppose it is a bit romantic to think that my oars were baptized in the same water used to make the beer I was currently drinking; truly the circle of life for a kayaker. The brewery also grows many of the ingredients utilized to create their heavenly ales, which certainly explains the fresh flavors. Lickinghole Creek is a bit like a Middle Ages, self-sufficient manor, with a more progressive edge.

As a naturalist, I would regret it if I did not mention the sweet tale that accompanies the Little Lickinghole Creek. According to local lore and the brewery’s website, the creek I had just explored and spent a rather epiphenal moment with Mother Nature on, has always been known as “the Lickinghole where wildlife stopped to drink from the nourishing waters.” May this continue to be true, as the warblers and cardinals enjoy that creek as much as I did in both recreation and liquid celebration.

Nuclear Nugget
Do not tell me, for once, that this deliciously refreshing beer is a whopping 10.5 percent. Basking in the warm sun and recovering from a full body workout, I drank this thirst-quenching beverage like it were ice water. The hops were fresh and alive, like the wildlife I witnessed this morning on the James and Lickinghole Creek. My taste buds were assaulted by 105 IBU and mounds of Centennial and Nugget hops. The citrus was intense, while a pleasant, spring-like sweetness of honey accompanied fresh flowers. Certainly, I could have ingested more, and trust me, I wanted to, but I suppose a beer does not receive the name “Nuclear” on a whim.