Big Woods State Forest

Big Woods State Forest is 2,188 acres of mostly pine plantation forest in Sussex County, Virginia. It is the first state forest property to be located in southeast Virginia. The property had been owned and managed by the timber industry since the early 1900s. Union Camp Corporation harvested timber to feed its mill in Franklin Virginia and practiced sustainable forest management by establishing much of the pine forests there today.

The property was sold to the Hancock Timber Resource Group in the early 1990s and then to the Nature Conservancy in 1998. The Department of Forestry purchased the property with conservation bond money combined with federal Forest Legacy funds and money from the Virginia Land Conservancy Foundation, administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in 2010. This purchase coincided with a Virginia Department of Game and inland Fisheries acquisition of 2,190 acres immediately adjacent to the new DOF property called the Big Woods Wildlife Management Area.

These two properties owned by different state agencies with parallel resource management goals creates a unique opportunity to manage the property as one unit using multiple objectives and with expertise from each agency spilling across the boundary lines.

In addition to the state properties, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) still owns and manages nearly 3,200 acres immediately north of Big Woods. They call this Piney Grove Preserve. Their efforts focus on providing habitat for the red cockaded woodpecker which was listed as an endangered species in 1970. All these properties together serve to conserve 7,574 acres in one block of land in southeast Virginia.

Use Permit | Parking/Hours | Recreation | Regulations

Forest Features

  • Lat/Long: 36-56-17.0, 77-04-52.4
  • Map: Hunter's Map (English; PDF format).

State Forest Use Permit

A State Forest Use Permit may be required for visitors to the state forests.

Parking/ Hours of Operation

  • Open daily from dawn to dusk.
  • Parking along the roads, in pull-offs or at locked gates is permitted, as long as the roadway is not blocked.
  • Email the forest personnel.

Recreation Opportunities

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

Motorized vehicles of any type are prohibited on all of the state forests.


Camping is not permitted on the Big Woods State Forest.


Canoeing is not permitted on the Big Woods State Forest.


A Virginia fishing license is required to use and ponds within the Forest.


Hiking is permitted on the Big Woods State Forest. No permit is required for hiking.

Horseback Riding

Generally, horses are permitted on the Big Woods State Forest. However horses are not permitted on the adjacent Big Woods Wildlife Management Area belonging to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries which includes forest roads that serve as shared boundaries. Refer to this map I PDF I about specific roads and trails where horses are allowed.

Riders are required to have a valid State Forest Use Permit.

Coggins Test Certificates must be available for each horse on State lands.

We recommend that equestrians dismount and lead their horse over bridges and across streams.


Hunting is permitted on the Big Woods State Forest.

All persons, except those legally exempt under Virginia law, must carry a valid Virginia hunting license AND a State Forest Use Permit to hunt or trap on the forest.

State Forest hunting regulations and seasons follow those of the county in which the State Forest is located. Check the Virginia Department Of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information brochure or their website for special restrictions on State Forest lands, such as Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days.


Picnicking is not permitted on the Big Woods State Forest.

State Forest Regulations

To ensure your safety, read our complete state forest regulations before visiting a forest.

  • Lawful firearms are permitted.
  • No removal of any tree, plant or mineral.
  • Remove all trash.
  • Motorized vehicles of any type are prohibited
  • No camping, or public display of alcohol.
  • No fireworks, campfires or open air fires of any type.
  • Hunting is permitted with a valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting license in accordance with state hunting regulations.
  • Fishing in designated areas only in accordance with state fishing regulations.
  • Gasoline motorized boats are not permitted.
  • Vehicular traffic on established roads only; not permitted on gated roads.

Last modified: Friday, 12-Oct-2018 11:06:56 EDT