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Belmont Ferry Farm Trail

Description

When complete, the Belmont Ferry Farm Trail will connect Gari Melcher’s Belmont and George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm, two other sites on the Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail. Currently, an over 2.5 mile, paved, multi-use trail winds between the parks along River Road. The trail has three different access points the Historic Port of Falmouth Park, St. Clair Brooks Memorial Park, and John Lee Pratt Memorial Park.

The trail terminus at the Historic Port of Falmouth Park encompasses Falmouth Beach, a popular spot for relaxing, fishing, sunbathing, and cooling off in the Rappahannock River.

Cliff swallows nest under the Falmouth Bridge. Photo Credit: Lisa Mease

Cliff swallows nest under the Falmouth Bridge. Photo Credit: Lisa Mease

A path through the unmanaged meadow area leads toward the Falmouth Bridge which is home to a large cliff swallow colony in the summer. On the way there, listen for northern cardinals, eastern bluebirds, Carolina wrens, indigo buntings, common yellowthroats, and the chittering tree and barn swallows that join the cliff swallows and chimney swifts as they forage insects. The wildflowers in the meadow attract pollinators and during the quieter months, mallards and Canada geese are a common sight along the river. 

After crossing River Road, the trail enters St. Clair Brooks Memorial Park. Like its neighbor, John Lee Pratt Memorial Park, it contains a mix of recreational areas and hardwood forests, creating an assortment of habitats. Eastern bluebirds, mixed flocks of blackbirds, and American robins avail themselves of the grass playing fields year-round, while tree swallows and chimney swifts join in during the summer. Familiar forest-dwellers include tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, downy woodpeckers, red-eyed vireos, acadian flycatchers, and eastern wood-pewees.

The next stop on the trail is John Lee Pratt Memorial Park. Although the  habitats and species here are similar in composition to St. Clair Brooks Memorial Park, there are two notable trails that warrant exploration. The first is the Oakensunrise Trail, a Boy Scout Eagle project that starts behind the pavilion in the northwestern section of the park. It parallels River Road through the forest for around a half mile and is well-maintained as part of the disc golf course.

The Oakensunrise Trail is a natural surface trail through the woods along River Road.

The Oakensunrise Trail is a natural surface trail through the woods along River Road. Listen for red-eyed vireos, eastern wood-pewees, and northern cardinals. Photo Credit: Lisa Mease

The second is a path that leads to Chatham Manor. Built in 1771 and maintained today by the National Park Service, it began as a traditional southern slave plantation, then became the US Army headquarters during the Battle of Fredericksburg and a field hospital where Clara Barton treated the wounded after the battle before being restored during the Colonial Revivalism of the 1920s. 

The final section of the Belmont Ferry Farm Trail crosses back over River Road and ends at the Chatham Bridge. The open grass field provides less-trafficked access to the Rappahannock River than Falmouth Beach so it’s a better place to look for species that prefer a quieter life, like great blue herons.

Notes:

  • There is a parking fee for non-residents at the Historic Port of Falmouth Park on Saturdays and Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Parking is always free at the other two trail access points year-round.
  • The grounds of Chatham Manor are open year-round. Building hours vary seasonally. Visit the National Park Service website for details.

Directions

Physical Address: 401 River Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22405

From I-95, take the exit for US-17 BUS S/Warrenton Road, turn right onto Washington Street, turn right onto W. Cambridge Street, turn left onto King Street, and the entrance to the Historic Port of Falmouth Park in on the right.

 

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: (540) 658-4871 cstevens@staffordcountyva.gov
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily; seasonal parking fee at Historic Port of Falmouth Park

Birds Recently Seen at Belmont Ferry Farm Trail (as reported to eBird)

  • Canada Goose
  • Wood Duck
  • Mallard
  • Mourning Dove
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Osprey
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Bike Trails
  • Fee
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms
  • Historical Site
  • Beach