Three people hike together through Fraser Preserve. In the foreground a yellow and green TNC trail blaze is nailed to the truck of a narrow tree, marking the way forward.
Fraser Preserve Explore the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region. © Glenna Goldman / TNC

Overview

Join The Nature Conservancy to experience an intimate presence in nature as the seasons change and autumn brings the rustle of stale leaves beneath your feet while the vast blue sky invites you to contemplate your connection to the world. Our bodies, minds and spirit are rooted in nature, and everything we do matters as we experience life on our ever-changing Earth.

All hikes are free and open to the public. Registration is required, and space is limited on some walks. Dates and details are listed below with links to registration forms for each event.

Meet Your Guides

Clare Buckner, Restoration Technician

Clare started her position as the restoration technician at Piney Grove Preserve in January 2022. Her favorite part of fieldwork at Piney Grove is learning about native plants and insects. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking and camping.

Dorothy Carney

Dorothy spent many years in northeast Ohio raising a family and working in super-computing and advanced visualization at NASA/Glenn Research Center. One of her fun projects was designing and helping install a native garden behind the old Cleveland Browns stadium, overlooking Lake Erie. In 2021 she became a Rivanna Master Naturalist. You may see her monitoring the trails at TNC’s Fernbrook and Fortune’s Cove Preserves. Follow her as cyberdot on iNaturalist. Native plants are a special interest; habitat destruction and climate change are great concerns.

Margaret Chatham

Margaret has been poking around Fraser Preserve for more than 20 years, celebrating the native plants and trying to discourage the invasive exotic ones. She’s always happy to share what she’s seen and keeps coming back because there’s always something new to see. She is a Virginia Master Naturalist and member of the Virginia Native Plant Society and cultivator of a very wild yard, full of native plants.

Barb Glaser

Barb is a Virginia Master Naturalist volunteer for the New River Valley Chapter. She is a retired middle school teacher who enjoys all things in nature, especially birding and botanizing and gardening for insects.

Grayson Harlow, Conservation Education Assistant

Grayson grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has been on the Eastern Shore as part of the Volgenau Virginia Coast Reserve since April. He has enjoyed learning about the wildlife and ecosystems of the coasts and marshes, and he loves sharing his discoveries with others. When he’s not out on the trails, Grayson is usually baking pies and bread or tending his garden.

Zoe McGee, Program Coordinator

Part of the Allegheny Highlands Program, Zoe has spent the last seven years working with the Virginia chapter and other state and federal partners to contribute to conservation efforts across the Appalachians. She likes to hike, paddle board, paint and listen for birds on Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. Her first introduction to conservation work was spotting and recording roseate tern bands across Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Laurel Schablein, Conservation Project Manager

Laurel has worked for the Allegheny Highlands Program for nine years and has lived in the Appalachians of Virginia her whole life. She finds a sense of awe and curiosity every time she sets foot on this dynamic landscape. Laurel says, "I’ve never gone out on Warm Springs Mountain in these nine years and not seen something new.”

Sabine Scholes

Sabine is an avid hiker and a recently certified Master Naturalist. While she's been exploring the trails at Fernbrook Preserve for about 18 years, she is still surprised at what she finds along these familiar trails. Her main interest is plants and botany, but she also enjoys looking at fungi, insects and birds.

James Shelton

James has been leading hikes at Cumberland Marsh for 10 years. His favorite bird to see at the preserve is a greater yellowlegs, and he enjoys traveling, meeting people and taking pictures. He also likes to repair, resell and recycle electronics and research and write articles for Wikipedia.

Brian van Eerden, Virginia Pinelands Program Director

Brian oversees TNC’s conservation programs in southeast Virginia. He has 25 years of experience protecting and managing forest systems of the coastal plain and enjoys sharing his knowledge about plant life, birds, rivers, fire ecology and natural history. He loves to fish, kayak and wander the woods with his family and friends.  

Jeff Wright

Jeff is enthralled by protecting habitat and species. A volunteer preserve leader, steward and hike leader for TNC, he is also a certified Virginia Master Naturalist, President of the Board of Directors of the Old Growth Forest Network, President of the Friends of Dragon Run and a kayak paddle tour guide. Staying active, acknowledging nature and paying forward to protect habitat are what make Jeff tick. 


Bear Loop Trail Hike at Warm Springs Mountain Preserve

Friday, October 7 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Join Allegheny Highlands staff for a hike on the Bear Loop Trail, where you’ll be introduced to one of the most ecologically significant forests in the Central Appalachians. Enjoy beautiful 60-mile vistas across the Allegheny Plateau of West Virginia and toward the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Bring a picnic lunch to eat at the overlook. The 3-mile loop trail is easy to moderate over mostly flat terrain.

This hike is led by Allegheny Highlands Program Director Blair Smyth, Conservation Project Manager Laurel Schablein and Program Coordinator Zoe McGee.

No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.


Bradley Trail Hike at Falls Ridge Preserve
Sunday, October 9 from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Join volunteer naturalists Sandy Weber and Barb Glaser for a leisurely hike around the travertine waterfall. We will explore the history, geology, plants and animals of the preserve. Trail difficulty is moderate with sloped terrain and steps.

Space is limited to 10 people. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and sturdy shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: Meet at the preserve parking lot located off Falls Ridge Road, Elliston, VA 24087. Note that Falls Ridge is closed to the public and the parking lot is locked. It is important you arrive on time as we will be unlocking the gate for you to park in the gravel lot. You will need to stay for the entire hike because the gate will be locked behind the last car.  


Nature Walk at Voorhees Preserve
Sunday, October 16 from 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Part of a network of conservation lands along the Rappahannock River, the preserve provides excellent habitat for bald eagles and other wildlife. Led by Master Naturalist and volunteer preserve steward Jeff Wright, this is a moderately difficult trail. View trail map.

Space is limited to 12 people. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and sturdy shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: 322 State Rte 674, Colonial Beach, VA 22443


Nature Walk at Fraser Preserve
Saturday, October 22 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Join volunteer naturalist Margaret Chatham to explore this preserve that has nearly 50 different species of trees. This lollipop trail's difficulty is easy to moderate—the hike will go down and up (in that order) 100 feet of elevation three times on this 3-mile walk. We are likely to encounter mud along the way. View trail map.

Space is limited to 16 people. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and sturdy shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: Park along Allenwood Lane and meet at the corner of Allenwood and Springvale. Please try to carpool as much as possible, as parking is limited.


Nature Walk at Piney Grove Preserve
Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Join Virginia Pinelands Program staff for a leisurely stroll along easy, established paths to view and learn about the ecology of Virginia’s finest pine savanna habitat. Led by Program Director Brian van Eerden and Restoration Technician Clare Buckner. Total distance is less than 0.5 miles. 

Space is limited to 12 people. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and shoes for walking on grass (tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: Meet at Adams Country Store. Address: 9243 General Mahone Hwy, Waverly, VA 23890.  We will caravan to Piney Grove from there.


Wildlife Walk at Cumberland Marsh
Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Join volunteer naturalist James Shelton for a walk on the trail and boardwalk to observe birds, insects and other wildlife. The preserve is a mixture of freshwater tidal marsh and wooded upland and provides habitat for wetland species and migrating waterfowl. This 3.9-mile-roundtrip lollipop trail is easy to moderate over flat terrain.

No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and walking shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: You can use this address to get you close, but follow the preserve signs. Cumberland Hospital, 9407 Cumberland Rd, New Kent, VA 23124


Nature Walk at Voorhees Preserve
Sunday, November 13 from 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Part of a network of conservation lands along the Rappahannock River, the preserve provides excellent habitat for bald eagles and other wildlife. Led by Master Naturalist and volunteer preserve steward Jeff Wright, this is a moderately difficult trail. View trail map.

Space is limited to 12 people. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Bring: Water and sturdy shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: 322 State Rte 674, Colonial Beach, VA 22443


Nature & Bird Walk at Cleveland Barrens Preserve and Tank Hollow Falls | Sunday, November 13 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Join Clinch Valley Program staff for a 1.5-mile outing that will highlight local birds in the area and the Cleveland Barrens Natural Area Preserve in southwestern Virginia. The waterfall has an ADA-accessible boardwalk just to the base of the falls. No pets. There are no bathroom facilities at this preserve. Read tips on going to the bathroom in the woods.

Led by Community Outreach Manager Nick Proctor, Land Protection Manager Meg Short and Virginia Master Naturalist Monica Hoel.

There is a moderately steep trail section for approximately 1/4 mile to access the Cleveland Barrens trail system. The guided portion of the hike will be approximately 1.5 miles, but participants are welcome to stay at the preserve and complete the entire 3-mile trail.

Bring: Water and snacks. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes (hiking/tennis shoes or boots). Dressing in layers is recommended; you may want a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, if you wish.

Location: 200 Tank Hollow Road, Cleveland, VA 24225