Mattaponi River LbNA # 27036
|Placed Date||Nov 11 2006|
|Last Update||Aug 22 2010|
The Mattaponi Bluffs part of the Nature Trail in Zoar State Forest is only 1 mile long with lots of wooden bridges and board walks. The trail rambles down a bluff and then alongside the Mattaponi River before returning up the bluff by way of a long wooden staircase. Zoar State Forest contains a variety of habitats and is therefore excellent for birdwatching. Because the trail is so short and full of interesting things, kids absolutely love it. I planted these boxes for my 6-year-old's Cub Scout den to find. I recommend this Letterbox for first-timers and those with children.
Directions to the trailhead: The Mattaponi River Letterboxes are located along the Mattaponi Bluffs section of the Nature Trail within Zoar State Forest on Rt. 600 (West River Road). From Rt. 360 going west toward Tappahannock, take a left onto Rt. 600. Continue for about 5 miles until you see a sign for Zoar State Forest on your right. Turn right into the parking lot. The trailhead is directly ahead.
Turn right at the trailhead. You will pass the first of the numbered posts. At the #2 post on the left, there is a wooden bench. You will see a holly tree on your right. Turn right off the trail, just before the holly. Walk about 12 steps to a fallen log. Take about 22 more steps where you will find an oak tree with a hole at its base. The first letterbox is inside the hole of the oak tree.
Continue on the trail, which bends to the left and down the bluff, then over a boardwalk and past post #3. You will see a little grove of mountain laurel bushes on the right and then a huge dead tree with its top mostly rotted away, next to a small holly tree. The second Letterbox is hidden inside a hole in the bottom of the dead tree.
Continue on the trail, over a wooden bridge and past the #4 post. You will cross over another bridge and past a fallen tree that has been cut to clear the trail. There are always a lot of good mushrooms along this section of the trail, either on the ground or growing on the rotting wood. Next, you will pass the #5 post with a bench and will be able to see the Mattaponi River directly ahead. Go over the boardwalk to the bench (#6 post must be missing) at the side of the river. There is a tree with a rope swing and a beautiful view of the bend in the river. Continue on and over another bridge and past the #7 post where the trail bends to the left. The trail visits the river again where you can usually see animal tracks in the wet sand along the river's edge. Go past the #8 post and past a beech tree on the left that is carved with names and initials. The trail then continues alongside the river for a while. You will pass the #9 post and cross another bridge right alongside the river. This bridge is a great place for a rest and a snack. The trail continues along the river, but the land has been sheared away by a recent flood and the high water has left behind a lot of fine white sand. Some number posts have gone missing as a result and some of the trail is makeshift. Go over another wooden bridge and past the #12 post. This will be your last view of the river and is a great place to spy a great blue heron or a kingfisher. The trail turns abruptly to the left, away from the river and over a swampy area. The #13 post is on this boardwalk across from a bench. The trail continues up a wooden staircase to the top of the bluff. At the base of the staircase on your left is a tree leaning toward you, with gnarly roots at its base. Look to the left and under the bottom stair (under some leaves) and you will find the third Letterbox!
Once you climb the stairs, you have the choice of turning to the left back to the parking lot, or turning right to the Heron Creek portion of the Nature Trail, where the numbered posts will continue.
All that in one mile.