In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene scoured Owl Hollow marsh and shattered the bridge that provided access to the heart of our wooded Voorhees Preserve. “Imagine someone driving a tank right through the middle of the bridge,” is how Conservancy land manager Sam Truslow, described the damage.
With no safe passage across the marsh for visitors and lacking funds to enact costly repairs, the Conservancy was forced to close the preserve.
Thanks to generous support from the adult children of the late Alan and Nathalie Voorhees (the original preserve donors), a new and improved bridge was built to span Owl Hollow. Portions of the main access trail were also repaired or relocated.
Dominion Virginia Power contributed additional financial support and some 20 volunteers. A seasoned trail crew from the Student Conservation Association provided their expertise and additional hands-on labor to finish the trail reconstruction in time for a spring 2013 reopening.
Enjoy a virtual trip to Voorhees in our photo gallery below, and then plan your own visit. The preserve is located near Colonial Beach on Virginia's Northern Neck. Visit the Voorhees Nature Preserve page to plan your visit. It's a great way to connect with nature!
Sky-walking goats are a popular attraction for families visiting Westmoreland Berry Farm, the starting point for exploring Voorhees preserve.
Voorhees Nature Preserve is open spring though fall during Westmoreland Berry Farm’s regular operating hours. Visitors should park in the main lot by the farm store and check in at the office. A kiosk with a large trail map and other preserve information is located near the entrance to the farm store.
School and other groups may also arrange to visit during other times. Contact the Virginia Chapter office in Charlottesville for information at (434) 295-6106.
A short stroll along a peaceful farm road leads to the Voorhees Preserve entrance.
Watch for the TNC trail blazes to find your way.
The rebuilt bridge provides stunning views and access to the preserve over Owl Hollow marsh.
View of the marsh. Part of a network of conservation lands along the Rappahannock River, Voorhees Preserve provides excellent habitat for bald eagles.
In addition to rebuilding the bridge over Owl Hollow marsh, trails were also rebuilt, re-routed, and re-blazed. A five person Student Conservation Association (SCA) trail crew spent two weeks at the preserve building 1/2 mile of new trail to re-route a section that had been destroyed by Hurricane Irene.
Crew member working on a retaining wall at one of the switchback landings. This structure will help reduce erosion of the trail.
Crew member working on a retaining wall at one of the switchback landings. This structure will help reduce erosion of the trail.Crew member working on a retaining wall at one of the switchback landings. This structure will help reduce erosion of the trail.
Detail of the completed retaining wall showing the skilled degree of construction.
Enjoy river views and watch for bald eagles and ospreys at the first Rappahannock overlook.
The SCA crew routed the new trail to include this beautiful overlook, and built the rustic fence to keep hikers from getting too close to the cliff.
Don’t forget to look down to spot small delights such as these fiddleheads.
Or delicate dragonflies.
The trail branches just beyond the first lookout point. The Carriage Road Trail follows along the forested river bluff along the Rappahannock River. The Hollow Tree Trail is a 1.4 mile loop that takes you deeper into the forest.
Download a trail map before you go to aid your journey.
You can see this gnarled old tulip poplar from the inside along the Hollow Tree Trail.
A second scenic overlook marks the end of the main Carriage Trail.