Habitats / Ecosystems
Lets go wild for wildlife!
Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve plays host to at least six distinct ecosystems. Get an overview of these below to begin to understand the importance of this place to the many creatures that call it home.
Because this area was farmed more heavily, the Northern woodlands are unique from the woodlands on the south side of the preserve. Lots of Loblolly Pines and an incredible amount of bird life are the markers of this ecosystem. Hike the Homestead Trail to get intimate with the wildlife here, and be sure to bring a good camera!
The Southern woodlands are filled with pines and hardwoods, making this mixed forest a home for many creatures, including fierce birds of prey! Hike the Riparian Trail or the southern section of the Lake Ballard Trail to get a glimpse of this habitat and notice the scores of American Sycamore trees, which are larger than many others in the area.
This tidal creek for which the preserve is named borders three sides of the preserve. Rent a kayak from the Visitors Center and enter the flowing waters from the newly installed creek-side kayak launch. During low tide, check out the throngs of fiddler crabs and oysters living along its shores, or watch for birds soaring over the salt marsh.
Lake Ballard is the centerpiece of the preserve. Formed from a VDOT borrow pit in the 1980s and filled by a breached aquifer and rainwater, this 39 acre lake has become a hotbed for research in Portsmouth. Learn about its history at the Visitors Center, or venture out to the Lake Deck to see it for yourself! The Lake Ballard Trail will take you around the entire lake in about 1 mile.
A riparian is the bank of a waterway, usually defined as extending from the edge of the water to about 30 feet inland. This strip of land is incredibly important to the many throngs of creatures that require the resources present in this specific ecosystem. Check out the Riparian Trail for a closer look at the critters who call this habitat home.
The Salt Marsh
Salt Marshes are disappearing from Virginia as human urbanization continues to encroach. Head down the Bluebird Trail to the Salt Marsh Deck to see one of the healthiest salt mashes in Portsmouth and learn about why this habitat is so critical while you observe the wildlife that depends on this unique environment. Or get out on the creek in a kayak to explore it close up!