Fortune's Cove Preserve trail marker
Fortunes Cove Trail marker at Fortune's Cove Preserve, VA © Glenna Goldman/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Fortune's Cove Preserve

Virginia

Fortune's Cove Preserve offers excellent hiking and beautiful mountain views.

Easily accessible from the Charlottesville and Lynchburg areas, Fortune's Cove Preserve provides a challenging hike that rewards visitors with stunning mountain vistas. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades.

Conditions

The 5.5-mile loop trail climbs steeply from the parking area, gaining some 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching its highest point. Hikers should be in good physical condition and should allow about four hours to complete the yellow trail.  

Download a trail map (pdf)

View Preserve Guidelines

Why TNC Selected This Site

Fortune's Cove straddles Virginia's Piedmont and Blue Ridge. Here, these two ecological regions meet to form a unique collection of flora from both areas. The preserve also is nestled within some 29,000 acres of relatively unfragmented forest, providing excellent wildlife habitat. The plant community—i.e. combination of plant species—found on the glades is thought to be extremely rare, with fewer than 20 examples known to occur worldwide.

Landowner Jane Heyward approached TNC about donating her property and making it accessible to visitors. Through Mrs. Heyward's exceptional generosity, the Virginia chapter created a parking area, signage and hiking trails for people to experience the preserve and will protect Fortune's Cove for future generations.

Download a trail map (pdf)

View Preserve Guidelines

The oak-hickory forests at Fortune's Cove are representative of this part of the Appalachians. Most of this forest is young, but uncut chestnut oak (Quercus montana) grows in a small area near the ridgeline of Woods Mountain.

What to See: Animals

Black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, and box turtle are all present. Bird species include turkey and red-tail hawk, as well as migratory songbirds such as the cerulean and blue-winged warbler, scarlet tanager, and orchard oriole.    

What to See: Plants

The west-facing slopes at Fortune's Cove are broken by a series of rocky glades. These openings support expanses of lichens and rock mosses—please tread carefully on these as you take in the spectacular views, as these fragile pioneers are easily abraded away by foot traffic.

Little bluestem, a prairie grass, dominates the grassy portions of the glades, while the woodlands are abundant with fringetree, also known as grandfather's beard. When this shrub blooms (late April/early May), you may notice its sweet fragrance before catching sight of the blossom's unusual white plume. Wild azalea, mountain laurel, and fire pink also bloom around this time.

For more information, contact the Virginia Program: (434) 295-6106.

Fortunes Cove Preserve
Fortune's Cove straddles Virginia's Piedmont and Blue Ridge. Here, these two ecological regions meet to form a unique collection of flora from both areas. The plant community found on the glades is thought to be extremely rare, with fewer than 20 examples known to occur worldwide.