Trail News

A Hidden Gem on the Middle Peninsula: Captain Sinclair’s Recreational Area on Severn River

Capt Sinclair 3 Gloucester Virginia Sunset View

Vincent Van Gogh once said that normality is a paved road. It’s comfortable to walk. But no flowers grow on it.

Technically speaking, the road to Captain Sinclair’s Recreational Area on the Severn River in Gloucester, Virginia – in the heart of rural coastal Virginia’s Middle Peninsula – is paved.

But it’s definitely off the beaten path, and a few gravel drives will greet you once you get off the county’s main drag of U.S. Route 17 and enter the little area of Nexera.

If you’re new to the area, or perhaps even have lived here for decades, you may have never known it existed.

Like Van Gogh’s flowers, it’s truly something special – and open to the community to enjoy as one of the Middle Peninsula’s waterfront public access points from which visitors and locals alike can hunt, fish, paddle (kayak or SUP), swim, bird watch, picnic, host gatherings and more.

“That sounds great!” you say. Here’s the details about how and why you should visit.

History of the Property

The site is located in southern Gloucester County on the Severn River, adjacent to Land’s End, the historic home of Revolutionary War hero Captain John Sinclair.

In April, 2013, the Chesapeake Bay Middle Peninsula Public Access Authority (MPPAA) was gifted the 97-acre waterfront property as part of its mission to increase public water access. The MPPAA was created in 2002 by the Virginia General Assembly as a regional authority for the protection and creation of public water access after an infux of new residents challenged traditional and culturally accepted water usages.

So How Can I Use It?

Let us count the ways!

Capt Sinclair 2 Gloucester Virginia Nature View

1 – Family Outdoor Gathering Area  

A portion of the Captain Sinclair property has been set aside as a Family Outdoor Gathering Area. This area is now available to reserve for picnics, birthday parties and small gatherings on a half and full day basis. Permitted uses in this area include outdoor grilling, roasting of marshmallows in a fire pit and yard games. The proximity to the water makes for great kayaking and fishing fun, too.

Uses not permitted in this area include alcohol, loud music and excessive partying. An old pool house on the property may be used as a rain shelter. Of note, the pool is closed.

Open burning is permitted for campfires or other fires that are used solely for recreational purposes, for ceremonial occasions, for outdoor noncommercial preparation of food, and for warming.

While the Family Outdoor Gathering Area has a max capacity of 25, users may contact the MPPAA at 804-758-2311 to request permission for a larger group which may include a higher fee.

Get all the details for rental here.

2 – Hunting

Several hunting blinds are available on the property that can be reserved for $25 a day.

Read on here for more on one of the hunting blinds available.

3 – Bird Watching

Besides being a great place to hunt and paddle, Captain Sinclair’s is also an ideal location for some birdwatching. Pack a picnic – visit the restaurants and shops on Gloucester Main Street for some to-go options – and spend the day.

Capt Sinclair 1 Gloucester Virginia Dock Image

4 – Paddling

The free parking and public docks make for an ideal location for paddlers to launch their kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards.

What’s next? If you didn’t exhaust yourself too much hunting, bird watching or paddling your heart out, after you leave Captain Sinclair’s, consider heading to Gloucester Main Street. Only about 10.9 miles away from Captain Sinclair’s, Gloucester Main Street, the oldest living Virginia village, is filled with locally owned and family operated restaurants and boutique shops.

Inn at Warner Hall Gloucester Virginia

Feel like making a weekend trip out of your visit? Great! There are several local places to stay that will not disappoint. The Inn at Warner Hall is a short five miles from Captain Sinclair’s and has much to offer. For the history lover in all of us, The Inn at Warner hall is located on the waterfront plantation created by George Washington’s great-grandfather back in 1642. The house itself is fully restored and boasts spacious accommodations as well as a full breakfast.