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Blackwater Creek Natural Area
“Here canopied reaches of dogwood and hazel, Beech tree and redbud fine-laced in vines,
Fleet clapping rills by lush fern and basil, Drain blue hills to lowlands scented with pines…”
From Life-Long, Poor Browning by Anne Spencer (1882-1976)
The Blackwater Creek Natural Area (BWCNA) is a 295-acre linear greenway that follows the winding route of Blackwater Creek, incorporating wooded hillsides and stream valleys throughout its length. Extensive trails- both paved and earthen- allow hikers, bikers, and runners access to most of the natural area, as well as connecting busy neighborhoods, schools, and parks to the peace and solitude of the BWCNA.
Many varieties of plants and animals thrive in the BWCNA. Tree species found in the natural area include sycamore, spice bush, paw-paw, walnut, oak, pine, hickory, maple, and tulip poplar. The abundant flora provides food and habitat to support the deer, wild turkeys, oppossums, raccoons, foxes, snakes, and rodents. An abundance of bird species, including cardinals, doves, sparrows, finches, blue jays, owls, hawks, wrens, flickers, herons, and pileated woodpeckers can be found.
Located near the center of the Blackwater Creek Natural Area, the Ruskin Freer Nature Preserve is a 115-acre preserve named in honor of a renowned biology teacher. The preserve has an interpretive loop trail that includes plant identification signs, as well as information about plant growth and succession.
Entrances are found at Thomson Drive, Monticello Avenue, Hollins Mill Road, Cabell Street, Ed Page entrance on Langhorne Road and Jefferson Park off North York Street. Extensive hiking trails are open year round. Enter onto the hiking trail at the end of Thomson Drive to get to the Ruskin Freer Nature Preserve, consisting of 115 acres and an interpretive trail.
The Blackwater Creek Bike Trail is open year round. Bikes are not allowed on the Freer Loop Trail, or on trails designated for “foot travel only.”