Zoar State Forest


Overview

The 378-acre Zoar State Forest is located in King William County, near Aylett. The forest is split into two separate noncontiguous units separated by 1,900 feet along Route 600. The northern unit (“Upper Zoar”) has a thin strip of upland land that gives way to a steeply-sloped hillside falling into the floodplain of the Mattaponi River. This is the site of a nature trail and canoe launch and is mainly managed as a natural area for recreation and wildlife. The southern unit (“Lower Zoar”) comprises more than 80% of the property. It is characterized by good site and timber quality on the upland soils, thanks to a long history of forest management activities by the Stoddard family. It has gentle terrain, good access, and a varied flora resource, exhibiting the potential for excellent pine and hardwood growth. The forest provides an excellent venue for producing high-value pine and hardwood timber, providing opportunities in education and recreation, and a variety of wildlife habitats.

Water resources include a 4-acre pond, 2,000 feet of waterfront on Herring Creek, and 6,600 feet of waterfront on the Mattaponi River.

The property includes a 1901 home that houses the VDOF office. The house and outbuildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

×To ensure your safety and enjoyment, please read Before You Visit when planning your trip to a state forest.

At a Glance

Access Status: Open to the Public
Hours: Open daily from dawn until dusk

Physical Address:
Latitude/Longitude:
37° 48’ 45.5”, 77° 5’ 35.4”
Office: 4445 Upshaw Road, Aylett, VA 23009

Parking/Access: Access from Upshaw Road or River Road. Small parking area at 4445 Upshaw Road (VDOF Office) and 1.75 miles west of Aylett on Route 600, River Road.

Restroom Facilities: None

Visitors are asked to adopt a “leave-no-trace” ethic when visiting the forest, as there are no restrooms or trash cans on the forest itself. ​ ​

Other Facilities: None

Forest History
Zoar State Forest was gifted to VDOF in 1987 by Mr. Albert H. Stoddard of Chatham County, Georgia. The deeded property had three tracts, known as Zoar, Zoar Lowland, and Upper Zoar. The gift was a memorial to the Pollard family, who lived on the property for 200 years. Robert Pollard acquired “Mount Zoar” in 1782. Robert and a succession of Pollards held the position of Clerk of the Court for King William County for 75 continuous years.

Local legend has it that the Village of Aylett, being a vibrant crossroads and destination of colonial travelers, was rife with sin and crime. The property was called Zoar by its early owners in reference to the biblical city of Zoar, which was spared the brimstone and fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and provided a refuge for Lot and his daughters.

The property includes a one-and-one-half story Queen Anne style single family dwelling, built in 1901, to replace an earlier farmhouse that burned down, and a number of outbuildings near the central dwelling exist that served the 19th century farmstead. Located 218 feet to the north of the present dwelling is the stately Pollard Family Cemetery, enclosed within a significant brick wall with a handsome wrought iron gate. Within the walls are a number of graves dating from 1789 to 1883.

Historical Landmarks

In 2005, the house and surroundings were listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. It was subsequently voted onto the National Registry of Historic Places in 2007. The registry recognizes the historic value of a property and encourages present and future owners to continue to exercise good stewardship, while imposing few, if any, restrictions on the use, management, or alteration of the facilities.

Forest Management
Zoar differs slightly from many other small state forests largely due to the intensity of past forest management activities accomplished by the Stoddard family. Management focuses on the demonstration of scientific forest management, applied forest research, development of diverse wildlife habitat, watershed protection, diverse timber stands that support biological diversity, and passive outdoor recreation.

A few management highlights at Zoar include an exceptional 90-acre pine stand that has been thinned twice and has excellent potential for understory burning. It has an accessible hardwood stand that has potential for improvement, and various ages of longleaf pine plantings that serve to demonstrate forest management alternatives.

Recreational Opportunities
Popular recreational uses of the Zoar State Forest include hiking, kayaking, and canoeing.

At a Glance

Visitors are asked to adopt a “leave-no-trace” ethic when visiting the forest, as there are no restrooms or trash cans on the forest itself. ​ ​

ATV/ORV use, camping, and swimming are prohibited on all State Forests.

A State Forest Use Permit* is required for individuals aged 16 and older to hunt, fish, trap, horseback ride, or mountain bike on state forest lands. The permit can be purchased online at or where hunting licenses are sold.

Trails and Roads

  • 1.5 miles of forest trails – no vehicles
  • 0.2 mile of forest roads (vehicles allowed)
  • 0.6 miles of gated forest roads – no vehicles

Hiking

Hiking is permitted on all forest roads and the nature trail (Upper Zoar, on River Road).

Mountain Biking *

Mountain is permitted on all forest roads and the nature trail (Upper Zoar, on River Road).

Horseback Riding *

None

Fishing and Boating

Only non-motorized boats are allowed on state forest waterways.

Fishing is permitted in the Mattaponi River in accordance with state fishing regulations. Both a State Forest Use Permit and Virginia fishing license are required.

A canoe/kayak launch is located off River Road on Herring Creek, giving access to the Mattaponi River.

Hunting and Trapping

None

Other Recreational Opportunities

Other passive recreational opportunities, such as wildlife watching and nature photography, are available.

Educational Opportunities
  • Self-learning opportunities are available.
  • Self-guided educational opportunities – interpretive signs.

The property is available to students, researchers, and the general public for nature study and other self-directed learning.

Contact Us
For more information or questions, e-mail us or use our contact form.

State Forest Main Office
Located at Cumberland State Forest
751 Oak Hill Road, Cumberland, VA 23040-2511
E-mail | (804) 492-4121

Local Contact
Dennis Gaston, Forester
11301 Pocahontas Trail, Providence Forge, VA 23140
Email | (804) 966-2201

Maps and Additional Resources
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