The trails at this preserve are easy to hike.
Alexander Berger Memorial Sanctuary The trails at this preserve are easy to hike. © Clay Murray

Places We Protect

Alexander Berger Memorial Sanctuary

Virginia

This sanctuary has a mature, second-growth forest that hosts a diverse array of plant life

Located on two terraces overlooking the beautiful Rappahannock River, the Alexander Berger Memorial Sanctuary consists of a mature, second-growth forest that hosts a diverse and distinct array of plant life.

The two wooded parcels were given to The Nature Conservancy in 1963 by Mrs. Helen Bryan and family in memory of her father, Alexander Berger. The sanctuary was originally a part of the historic Belvedere Peony Farm where Mr. Berger made his home until his death in 1940. The manor house at Belvedere was originally built by Colonel William Dangerfield before the Revolutionary War.

The uplands portion has remained relatively undisturbed since 1864, when it was used as an encampment and rear-line artillery position for the Confederate army. Vestiges of Civil War fortifications remain on a knoll that provided a view for those passing on the way to Fredericksburg.

Conditions

The trails at this preserve are easy to hike.

Download a trail map (pdf)

View preserve guidelines

Plan Your Visit

Download a trail map (pdf)

View preserve guidelines

What to See: Animals

A swamp provides habitat for beavers, muskrats and raccoons. A large, active beaver pond is present on the Rappahannock River portion. Mallards and black ducks pause on the river while great blue herons, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, flycatchers, indigo buntings and cuckoos frequent or reside on the preserve.

What to See: Plants

The upland portion of the preserve contains a striking diversity of vegetation. The largest trees average about two feet in diameter and 80 feet in height.

The primary species on the flood plain are box elder, sycamore, pin oak, black walnut, black willow, river birch, ash, hackberry, cottonwood, American elm, persimmon, sweet gum, holly, red cedar and alder. The banks of Snow Creek are steep, up to 40 feet. Forest cover is hardwood, with predominant trees being mature tulip poplar and sycamore.

A rhododendron forest (or great laurel), unusual so far south on the coastal plain, grows along the bank of Snow Creek. It is believed to have survived from glacial ages.