Programs and Activities

Hours of Operation:  Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am - 4 pm

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Hoffler Creek offers a variety of educational programming throughout the year highlighting many aspects of the preserve. Whatever your interest--identifying edible plants, getting comfortable in a kayak, learning about butterflies, bats and birds, quietly musing on the beauty of nature--you will find lifelong learning opportunities to enjoy here.

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is operated as a “passive use facility” with an emphasis placed on preserving and protecting wildlife habitat.  While certain higher impact activities are restricted, visitors are welcome to enjoy the beauty of Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve through a variety of activities:

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  • Hiking the trails that wind through the surrounding forest, vast lake and teeming salt marsh environments. Download our Trail Map as a .pdf or link to one of our trail guides for any of the specific trails below:
    • Lake Ballard Trail — This wide, gentle trail takes you around Lake Ballard, the centerpiece of property, and includes the Lake Ballard Overlook, Memorial Bird Blind, Oyster Pier, Kayak Pier and Lab. This one-mile trail gives visitors an introduction to each ecological zone:   forest, lake and marsh. The trail accommodates strollers and wheelchairs. (Occasional tree roots may offer challenges for each.)
    • Bluebird Trail — Named for the bluebird boxes lining the trail, this short meadow trail leads to the Salt Marsh Overlook. The Bluebird Trail is accessible from the Lake Ballard Trail. Gravel underlayment makes this trail accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
    • Riparian Trail  — Located between the Bluebird Trail and the Lake Ballard Trail, this trail provides a comfortable woodland walk with some subtle changes in elevation. A stop at the White Bird Blind, dedicated to Clark White, founding HCWF member and avid birder, allows for quiet observation of birds along the salt marsh.
    • Homestead Trail — The longest of Hoffler Creek’s side trails, the Homestead Trail offers a stroll through the former site of the Ballard family home. An unusual mixture of forest and landscape flora gives this trail its own personality. The Willett Blind, named after a branch of the Ballard family, provides a quiet, secluded view of the marsh near the mouth of Hoffler Creek.
    • Kids Trail — The kids trail is a short, kid-friendly path with ferns, vine tunnels and decaying logs for an exploratory forest adventure. A small amphitheater invites stopping to have a story or simply sitting to listen to the sounds of the forest.
  • Seasonal kayaking on Hoffler Creek, a tributary of the historic James River. Though it is tidal, Hoffler Creek is flat water and accessible to individuals of any skill level. Individual and tandem kayaks are available with tandems accommodating up to two adults and a small child. Kayaks are available anytime weather permits but generally from April-October. 
    • Rentals: Rent a kayak from us from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Rates are just $25/kayak for up to two(2) hours ($10 for each hour after that) and members can save even more ($15 for first 2 hours and $5 for each hour after).
    • Bring your own: Launching your own is just $10/kayak (free year-round to all HCWPF members). Our floating dock is a half a mile from parking but don't fret, we'll shuttle you and your vessel to and from the launch with our golf cart & attached kayak caddy.
    • Take a guided paddle: Join other paddlers for a guided tour led by experienced Hoffler Creek staff or volunteers. All season long we have great trips planned like Moonlit, Sunset, or Early Bird Paddles. See our event page for more information about upcoming paddles. 
    • Bring a group: Plan ahead and we can launch up to 15 people together as a group. With advanced reservation, groups of 8 or more recieve 10% off any number of rentals. Additional discounts are available to many educational and civic service groups (including scouts). After-hours and a guided programs are also available.
  • Our pavilion, learning center, and outdoor exhibition areas, all nestled in a quiet woodland setting, can be rented for birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings small & large (some rules and restrictions apply).
  • Observing abundant wildlife such as deer, fox, raccoons, otters, and more that call Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve home.  Self-guided and group walks offer excellent year-round birding opportunities highlighting myriad resident and migratory birds.

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