Ragged Mountain Natural Area

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.

Description

Elevation: 737 ft.

Ragged Mountain Natural Area is a 980-acre preserve located around the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. This beautiful area just southwest of the City of Charlottesville has something for everyone. There are 7 miles of well-maintained trails and views of the surrounding valleys from the top of Round Top Mountain. With 3 major trails, this site offers nature enthusiasts numerous opportunities for viewing wildlife. During winter months the reservoirs are full of waterfowl including Canada geese, mallard, and ruddy duck. The higher elevation trails will bring visitors views of all the native woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers in the winter, and northern flickers. In the spring, look for a variety of songbirds migrating through, such as blue-winged and Tennessee warblers. Fall brings 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. Upland chorus and northern cricket frogs take residence here, as does American toad and spring peeper. In addition to these amphibians, several species of bats are known to inhabit these woodlands including eastern pipistrelle, evening bat, and big brown bat. White-tailed deer are abundant, and the occassional black bear and bobcat may be seen.

Adjacent to Ragged Mountain Natural Area is Heyward Community Forest, which contains 147 acres of forest and rock outcrop. Five trails provide access for your explorations of the Forest. Highlights here include a stream that runs down the mountain from the reservoir with small cascading waterfalls and interesting native cactus growths in the rock outcrop areas.

For an interactive tour and dynamic map of the area’s geography, flora, and fauna, check out The Ragged Mountain Natural Area Explorer.

Directions

Physical Address for Ragged Mountain: 1770 Reservoir Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903

Physical Address for Heywood Community Forest: 1730 Reservoir Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903

To Ragged Mountain, from I-64 in Charlottesville: Take Exit #118B/US 29 North. After 0.4 miles, take the first exit for US 29 Business. At the end of the ramp, turn left onto Fontaine Avenue. Go 0.3 miles on Fontaine Avenue to Reservoir Road and turn right. Follow Reservoir Road for 1.7 miles to the sign on the right just before Camp Holiday Trails. This is the lower parking area. To reach the upper parking area, continue past the lower lot, stay right and pass the yellow gate, and travel up the paved road to the top of the dam and park by the kiosk and tool shed.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: City of Charlottesville: 434-970-3260, gensic@charlottesville.gov, trails@charlottesville.gov
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily, Open 7:00 a.m. to sunset

Birds Recently Seen at Ragged Mountain Natural Area (as reported to eBird)

  • Hooded Merganser
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Brown Creeper
  • Carolina Wren
  • Song Sparrow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Winter Wren

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking