Over 200K visit High Bridge

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Well over 200,000 people visited High Bridge Trail State Park this year — an almost 6 percent jump from last year’s numbers.

“At this time last year … we were at 194,000. So, right now, we’re just shy of a 6 percent increase in visitation on the trail,” new High Bridge Trail State Park Manager Daniel Jordan told Prince Edward County supervisors on Dec. 8.

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He said that increased visitation has increased revenue at the park. Revenue is up 31 percent, Jordan said. “Year-to-date revenue last year was at $17,000, and this year we’re just over $24,000 … And the large chunk of that is from our merchandise trailer.”

He said the trailer, located at High Bridge, has seen a 76 percent increase in revenue this year.

Programming participation numbers have also spiked. Last year, 146 programs were held, bringing in over 4,000 people. This year, 266 programs have been held and 4,500 people have participated.

“We’re seeing more people come out from Farmville, from Prince Edward, but also from surrounding counties. We’re seeing a big increase in our attendance,” he said.

Revenue from parking is up 8 percent from last year, Jordan said.

The revenue directly from programming has decreased, he said. “The rainy November has helped push our revenue down a little bit. So, we’re $180 down from last year.”

A majority of program revenue comes from van tours of the trail.

According to Jordan, the park is preparing to open a new access road — Camp Paradise Road — off of Aspen Hill Road.

“That’s going to be an additional parking area that’s east of High Bridge. It’ll sit three-tenths of a mile from the bridge. River Road is just shy of a mile, so it’ll be another outlet.”

The new parking lot and road should be completed by Jan. 1.

The trail is 31 miles long and includes the High Bridge, which is over 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River. It traverses Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties and the towns of Burkeville, Farmville, Pamplin City, Prospect and Rice.

Twin Lakes State Park Manager Phil Morgan — who was also recently hired — told supervisors that the full-service park had 102,000 visitors last year.

“That’s down a little bit from the year before. We also had a campground closure while we were doing some renovations,” he said.

About 14,000 of those people spent the night at the park.

Last year, the park brought in about $325,000. The park’s overall budget is about $450,000, Morgan said.

“We have construction underway of three new lodgings. It’s going to be two three-bedroom cabins … We also have a six-bedroom [handicap] accessible lodge that’s going to be under construction.”

The new housing is expected to bring in additional visitors, he said, and increase capacity.

The park’s conference center stays very busy, he said.

“Last year, we had 171 days of events at the conference center. So, it stays pretty busy. We’re hoping that the additional lodging is going to help us fill that out a little bit more.”

Morgan said that a renovation of the park’s bathhouse turned out “very nice.”

The park reached about 6,000 people through educational programming last year, he said.

The 495-acre park is in Prince Edward County, and offers opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.