Locations and Structures
Finding Inspiration at Every Turn
There's a lot to see at the preserve. Check out some of the destinations below - see if you can find them all when you come visit! There are new things being added to the preserve all the time by the many dedicated volunteers who are passionate about preserving this awesome resource for our community.
The Visitors Center is a quaint bungalow located near the south side of the parking area. It serves as the headquarters for the preserve and is staffed during open hours. Stop by to ask questions, find information about upcoming events, or purchase a souvenir to remember your visit.
The Pavilion is located near the north side of the parking area and can serve as a place for gatherings, picnics, or events. It is complete with solar panels to power lights, music, media presentations, and young imaginations. Get a selfie with the owl wings!
This large deck is an easy hike from the parking area and stands proudly above the placid waters of Lake Ballard. See how many colorful turtles you can spot sunbathing or fighting over log space, or take a gander through the integrated binocular telescope at hawks nesting on the other side!
At the Oyster Pier, which juts out into Hoffler Creek, you can find many oysters and other creatures like clam, worms, shrimp, and mud crabs along the living shoreline. It is the perfect place to teach young people about the critters that inhabit this fascinating and complex ecosystem.
Creek-side Kayak Launch
When you rent a kayak, this is where you will slide into Hoffler Creek to explore the many nooks and crannies of this gorgeous waterway, which connects to the James River! You might see a bald eagle flying overhead or a fish jumping out of the water.
The Creekside Lab stands between Hoffler Creek and Lake Ballard. In addition to housing kayak gear, this structure acts as a laboratory for water quality testing, oyster monitoring, and other projects. Solar panels power lights, microscopes, and a small water pump to make use of rainwater.
White Bird Blind
The White Bird Blind is located on the western edge of the preserve along the Riparian Trail. Here, visitors can get a good look at the birds and other animals inhabiting the salt marsh while staying mostly concealed from the wildlife.
Willet Bird Blind
At the very end of the Homestead Trail in the extreme North West corner of the preserve, you will come upon the Willet Bird Blind. There is a placard where you can read about the Willet Family for which this blind was named and a bench where you can sit and observe wildlife out in the marsh without the wildlife seeing you.
Memorial Bird Blind
Covered in memorial plaques dedicated to loved ones, this is a special place for many visitors. See if you find a name you recognize or peer through to the other side at the wondrous creatures going about their business on the shores of Hoffler Creek. There is also a geocache hidden here... can you find it?!
The floating dock at the western end of Lake Ballard has a new kayak launch! This is the perfect place to get up close and personal with the turtles, bugs, and other creatures that call the lake home. This is where you will slide your kayak into the placid water when you come out for a full-moon kayak tour.
Salt Marsh Deck
As a reward for reaching the end of the Bluebird Trail, surrounded by wildflowers, the Salt Marsh Deck curves out over the mud of the expansive salt marsh of Hoffler Creek. Here, you can get a good look at this fascinating ecosystem which is vital to many native creatures, from little fiddler crabs to the majestic blue heron.