George and Jacintha Paschal donated the 63-acre tract in 1963 as a land gift and requested that it be preserved in its natural state.
Prior to 1963, Fernbrook was used for agriculture, cattle and timber. For the first time since the original virgin timber was cut, the forest is being allowed to "complete" succession into a mature stand, paralleling the Shenandoah National Park, where the woodland is evolving to resemble pre-Colonial forest.
Upland hardwoods include red oak, yellow poplar, hickory, black gum, red maple, American beech, and other species with scattered shortleaf and Virginia pine.
Bottomland hardwoods include sycamore, ash, hackberry, red maple, black walnut and yellow poplar.
The small streams and springs that run through the natural area support a variety of plant species. Spotted loe-pye-weed, Virginia knotweed, partridge pea, dwarf Saint-John's-wort, blue phlox and a host of other wildflowers may be found blooming at Fernbrook at various times of the year. There are also several uncommon species, such as the southern adder's tongue.
Birds sighted here include the pileated woodpecker, ovenbird, scarlet tanager, ruby-throated hummingbird, and the red-tailed hawk. Bobcats have been known to wander through the area.
Fernbrook is intended to be used as a true “natural area” for study and observation, rather than a recreational destination. It is accessible to the public with prior permission of TNC.