MTC01A: Richard P. Gravely, Jr Nature Preserve
Elevation: 738 ft.
The 75-acre Richard Gravely Nature Preserve is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon or an entire day. With outstanding views of the Smith River and a variety of forest types, some reminiscent of higher elevations, this area has a wide array of wildlife to make this a great spot for viewing.
Most of this beautifully preserved area is on north facing slopes, gradually descending to the Smith River. While mature hardwoods and pines cover the higher areas, many of the areas closer to the river have thick stands of rhododendron and laurel that might make one think they were near Mount Rogers or at higher elevations further west in Virginia. During your trek along the river keep your eyes open for otter, belted kingfishers and a variety of warblers like Acadian flycatchers. Further upslope from the river, watch for wild turkey, deer, and the occasional box turtle. Smaller pools and streams on the property are sure to provide views of several species of salamanders.
This area is also known for its diverse collection of wildflowers, ferns and mushrooms. Trillium, bloodroot, and wild orchids are prolific on various portions of the Preserve. The north facing slopes have a diverse array of ferns, including Christmas, lady, walking, maidenhair, and others. One of the interpretive stops explains the wide variety of plants that occur on the property. In addition, history buffs will find this area contains the Burgess family cemetery, two century-old tobacco barns, and the history of the Burgess Plantation that once covered most of this area.
From Site MTC01 Fisher Farm Park, return to Rt. 640/Old Mill Road and turn left. Follow this road 0.9 miles back to Rt. 642/Eggleston Falls Road. Turn right on to Rt. 642/Eggleston Falls Road and make an immediate left into the Richard Gravely Nature Preserve gravel parking lot.