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

Explore a mature second growth forest overlooking the beautiful Rappahannock River.

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.

Additional Resources

Conditions

The trails at this preserve are easy to hike.

What to See: Animals

A swamp provides habitat for beavers, muskrat 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.

Alexander Berger Memorial Sanctuary
Explore a mature second growth forest overlooking the beautiful Rappahannock River.

Alexander Berger Memorial Sanctuary Plan your visit.

Additional Resources

We invite you to experience and enjoy preserves where we provide public access, but remember that every visitor has an impact. Please follow our visitation guidelines to protect yourself and nature.

  • Preserves are open to the public during daylight hours. 
  • Passive recreation such as walking, bird watching, and photography is welcomed. 

 THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES ARE NOT ALLOWED:

  • Bringing dogs onto the preserve
  • Picking flowers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Removing rocks or other parts of the landscape
  • Smoking
  • Camping
  • Fires or cookouts
  • Driving motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, except on designated access roads
  • Biking, except at Brownsville Preserve
  • Fishing, trapping or hunting, except as otherwise posted
  • Horseback riding
  • Feeding wildlife
  • Releasing animals or introducing plants
  • Disposing of trash or other waste, including biodegradable materials

TO MINIMIZE YOUR IMPACT, WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE ALSO OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING:

  • Stay on trails.
  • Avoid walking in wet, boggy areas.
  • Inspect pant legs and shoes to remove seeds before entering and when leaving the preserve. Failure to do so could introduce invasive weeds to new locations.
  • If you flush a ground nesting bird, stop and avoid walking near the nest area.
  • Observe all posted signs.
  • Please do not remove stakes, signs, flagging, tape or similar objects. These may be markers for a research project.
  • Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to preserves.

For your own comfort and enjoyment, come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes for hiking, pack rain gear, and wear long pants with socks over them to protect yourself from ticks and poison ivy. Always remember to bring water, as dehydration is a serious year-round threat.

If you observe any illegal activity on a preserve such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. However, do feel free to call local law enforcement.

Enjoy your visit and please report any problems you encounter at a preserve to the Virginia Chapter at 434-295-6106.