You’re invited to share a hike on Saturday, December 3, with the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA). The two-mile hike, DRBA’s First Saturday Outing, begins at 10 a.m. at the Richard P. Gravely, Jr. Nature Preserve, 2525 Eggleston Falls Road, Ridgeway, Virginia. Outing coordinator is Linda Park, an avid fan of the preserve.
The Gravely Nature Preserve, part of Henry County’s Smith River Trail system, was dedicated in April 2008. Developed by DRBA and Henry County, with funding from The Harvest Foundation, the 75-acre preserve features early twentieth-century tobacco barns and the Burgess Family cemetery, reminders of former owners of the property. Located on a ridge, the cemetery contains graves mostly from 1880-1920, with the most recent being 1941.
Interpretive trails on the preserve wind through mixed woodlands, some along the ridge and others descending to the edge of the Smith River where rhododendrons thrive along the water’s edge. A wide variety of ferns may still be visible this late in the year.
Industrialist, civic leader, and archaeologist Richard P. Gravely, Jr. owned the property in the late twentieth century and left detailed instructions for its preservation as a wildlife and nature conservancy. His family honored his wishes, and the resulting nature preserve has hosted educational and recreational events for all ages, including day camps, fitness walks, historic presentations, workshops, after-school programs, and geo-caching.
Participants in the hike are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the parking lot of the Gravely Nature Preserve, 2525 Eggleston Falls Road, Ridgeway. Dress in layers, wear hiking shoes or boots, and bring hiking stick(s), lunch, and water. All are invited to picnic in the Outdoor Classroom near the parking lot at the end of the hike.