A low angle view from the forest floor looking up at the underside of a large pinkish mushroom.  The ground is covered in leaves. Thick tree trunks are seen in the background.
Fernbrook mushroom Fernbrook Preserve is excellent example of a southern Piedmont forest in varying stages of succession. © Nancy Carey

Places We Protect

Fernbrook Natural Area

Virginia

An excellent example of a southern Piedmont forest in varying stages of succession.

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 a part of the Old Growth Forest Network, a national network dedicated to protecting old-growth and mature native forests in the US for the benefits they provide to people and nature.

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. Contact TNC at 434-951-0579 for information about visiting the preserve.

Get Involved: Preserve Volunteer Program

Virginia's Preserve Volunteer Community Program provides a vital service to help us maintain and monitor our public preserves across the state.

How can you get involved?

  • Community Members—become involved with a preserve without committing time to stewardship work. Receive periodic updates about the preserve and special events.
  • Preserve Stewards—visit Fernbrook at least 4 times a year to assess trail and preserve conditions and perform basic trail maintenance by removing fallen branches and overgrown vegetation.
  • Preserve Leaders—demonstrated commitment to the preserve and willingness to take on additional responsibilities like managing communication & scheduling, leading workdays and guiding naturalist hikes.

Please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer coordinator, at 434-951-0572 or jdalke@tnc.org to receive further information.

Download the Fernbrook Natural Area Preserve Volunteer Program handbook to learn more.