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Take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the 755 acres of Fortune’s Cove Nature Preserve as it stretches along the crest of Woods Mountain. Two trail loops (5.1 miles and 3.7 miles) lead visitors to the ridge top and back down again in a thorough exploration of nature, with each turn of the trail offering something new to see. The preserve is composed of a relatively young deciduous forest mixed with a series of rocky glades dominated by lichens and rock mosses. The vegetation found in these rocky glades is thought to be extremely rare with fewer than 20 examples known to occur worldwide. In addition to the unique flora, the preserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
While hiking the trails, listen for the far-carrying calls of pileated woodpeckers. These stand out as strikingly different from the more resident blue jays, northern cardinals and Carolina wrens. In spring and summer, the woods come alive with the sounds of warblers and tanagers just back from their winter in the tropics. Listen for ovenbirds, American redstarts and scarlet tanagers throughout the climb. Along the way, there are seven viewpoints that give the perfect vantage for scanning the skies and neighboring ridges. Look out for kettles of broad-winged hawks flying south in fall, along with many other raptors. Throughout the summer, the stream at the base of the trail can be filled with blooming wildflowers. Check these blooms for a variety of butterfly species, like red-spotted purples, pearl crescents, and the abundant sachems. Also, be on the lookout for question marks and eastern commas, which can occur together, making them easier to identify.
Physical Address: Fortune’s Cove Ln, Lovingston, VA 22949
From US 29 near Lovingston travel north for 0.5 miles to Rt. 718/Mountain Cove Road. Turn left and follow Rt. 718 west 1.5 miles to Rt. 651/ Fortune’s Cove Ln. Turn right (north) on Rt. 651/ Fortune’s Cove Ln and continue for 1.6 miles to Fortune’s Cove Preserve.
Location & DirectionsView on Google Maps
- Site Contact: The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Program: 434-295-6106
- Access: Free, open daily
Seasonal Bird Observations
- Environmental Study Area
- Hiking Trails