Ragged Mountain Natural Area
NOTICE: ALL OF RAGGED MOUNTAIN NATURAL AREA IS CLOSED UNTIL DAM CONSTRUCTION IS COMPLETED. At this time, the City of Charlottesville hopes to reopen the trails by or about Labor Day 2014. Boating on the reservoir is strictly off limits until further notice by the City.
The Ragged Mountain Natural Area near Charlottesville, Virginia, is a beautiful 980-acre forest of mature oak, hickory, poplar, pine, and maple trees with two lakes and more than four miles of shoreline. Seven miles of trail lead through majestic forest, along rugged terrain, and through areas rich with wildlife and offer a unique opportunity for wilderness hiking within minutes of town.
The area is rich in birdlife with native woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and northern flickers in the winter. In the spring, keep an eye out for songbirds migrating through such as blue-winged and Tennessee warblers. Fall brings the migrant blackpoll and bay-breasted warblers as well as hermit thrush. Nesting neotropical songbirds include pine, yellow-throated, and yellow warblers, northern parula, yellow-breasted chat, chipping and field sparrows, and red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos are best seen in early spring before the foliage gets too heavy.
Other wildlife includes the upland chorus and northern cricket frogs are in residence here, as is the American toad and spring peeper. Several species of bats are known to hunt insects here including eastern pipistrelle, evening bat, and bag brown bat. Many, many species of mammals live here. Among the large mammals, the white-tailed deer is particularly abundant. Occasional visits by black bear and sightings of bobcat are also not uncommon.
Visiting the Natural Area
The Ragged Mountain Natural Area parking area is located at 1730 Reservoir Rd., off Fontaine Avenue, south of Charlottesville, VA. (Google map). Open 7:00 a.m. to sunset.
Please observe our rules for protecting the Natural Area. Sporting activities and pets are prohibited. For an alternative, please visit one of the many parks in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area! (See: Albemarle County parks and City of Charlottesville parks.)
Creation of the Ragged Mountain Natural Area
In April 1997, with the goal of providing long-term protection to the watershed of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, the Ivy Creek Foundation (ICF) approached the City of Charlottesville with a proposal to designate the Reservoir property as a public natural area reserved for quiet hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. Under this proposal ICF agreed to fund, design and construct a rustic parking lot, conduct a biological survey, establish and maintain a trail system, and provide maps.
With financial help from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and with the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, Ragged Mountain Natural Area was opened to the public in March, 1999.