Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s Laurel Grove Unit surrounds a stunning ten acre freshwater pond within a mixed woodland. A well-shaded 1.5 mile loop trail borders the pond providing opportunity to spot aquatic wildlife in the pond or denizens of the woodland. Otters, beavers, and turtles frequent this pond as well as various waterfowl, especially in the winter, and dragonflies are abundant. In the spring, listen to the melodic choruses of bullfrogs, spotted leopard frogs and green frogs. Woodland birds that may be observed include woodpeckers, eastern wood-peewee, scarlet and summer tanager, and migrating warblers. Also along this trail, a half-mile walk west from the main entrance, is a sheltered photo blind with a view of Farnham Creek, allowing the observer to view and photograph winter waterfowl. Bald eagles may also be spotted from this vantage point. Just off of the northern portion of the main pond loop trail is a secondary, more rustic trail, that leads down through the woodland to provide closer views of the pond. This secondary trail is marked with a mix of white blazes on trees and brown wayfinding sign posts.
Additional trail access is located 0.3 miles east of the main entrance on Laurel Grove Rd/ Rt 610. This 0.84 mile out-and-back walking trail leads into a scrub-shrub habitat, a former agricultural area that the refuge has allowed to revert to a natural state. This area provides excellent bird habitat for grassland and shrubland birds, such as sparrows, eastern bluebird, yellow-breasted chat, eastern kingbird, and migrating bobolink. This trail also connects with the main pond loop trail for an extended walk.
For exploration of the water, a kayak/ canoe landing is available at the main entrance to launch hand-launchable boats.
- On specific days in the winter, the Laurel Grove Unit is open for hunting, during which time it is closed to non-hunting activities. Closure dates are posted on the main kiosk at the trailhead and on the Refuge’s website and social media. If visiting in the winter, it is advised to check with the refuge first in advance of your visit to ensure Laurel Grove is open.
Physical Address: 736 Laurel Grove Road, Farnham, Virginia 22460
From S Main St in Kilmarnock, turn right onto VA-3 W/ S Main St, continuing for 17.8 miles. Turn left onto Farnham Creek Rd/ Route 608 and proceed 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Hales Point Rd/ Route 647 and continue for 2.4 miles. Turn right onto Laurel Grove Rd/ Route 610 and follow it as the road winds to the right. Parking for the pond and nature trail will be on your right.
Location & DirectionsView on Google Maps
- Site Contact: 804-333-1470, Rappahannock@fws.gov
- Access: Free. Open sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week including holidays. Visitation restrictions during winter hunting season. Check website for more information.
Seasonal Bird Observations
- Hiking Trails
- Kayak/Canoe Launch