Hiking History

You’ll find forests, flowers, and Founding Fathers along the trails of Central Virginia.

Illustration by Aldo Crusher

Many of the VDGIF Bird & Wildlife Trail loops located in Central Virginia’s Piedmont region offer intimate views of the state’s historical sites, as well as abundant wildlife and widely varying landscape. 

Trails in the Monticello & Rivanna loop (1) include views of Thomas Jefferson’s historic home as well as forested hikes in and around Charlottesville. The Green Springs loop (2) starts at Montpelier, home of Founding Father James Madison, and winds past historic farms on its way around Lake Anna, where bald eagles, ospreys, and tundra swans are regular visitors. Near Richmond, the Henrico loop (3) skirts Scotchtown, home to both famous patriot Patrick Henry and First Lady Dolley Madison, while also wending through parks that attract red-tailed hawks, eastern painted turtles, and bluebirds. Patrick Henry is also honored at Red Hill on the Staunton River loop (4), which runs along the border of Halifax and neighboring counties.

Civil War sites are also common along the trails. The Heart of the Piedmont loop (5) takes visitors through several wildlife management areas and state forests, and also passes near Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park, honoring the last major battle of the war. The Appomattox Court House loop (6) cuts through the National Historical Park, marking the site where the Civil War ended, as well as the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest, home to white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and many songbirds. 

The Piedmont boasts plenty of untouched land, too. Along the James River loop (7), which winds through Nelson, Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Buckingham counties, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, wrens, and yellowthroats soar through towering sycamores, and wildflowers bloom along the river bank. Birds, including gulls, swallows, thrushes, and hawks, are also plentiful along the Dan River loop (8) trails in Halifax and Mecklenburg counties and the fields, forests, and wetlands of the Roanoke-Meherrin Summit loop (9), which lies mostly in Lunenburg County. And for waterfowl, look to the Christanna loop (10) and its trails near Buggs Island Lake—home to freshwater birds and oceanic species alike. DGIF.Virginia.gov/VBWT


This article originally appeared in our Best of Virginia 2019 issue.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum