Jefferson Chapter Field Trip: History and Wildflowers—Charlottesville’s Old Mills Trail

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Date(s) - Saturday, April 21, 2018
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Pantops Shopping Center - Southeast Corner


The Old Mills Trail runs along the east side of the Rivanna River south of Free Bridge. It is an area where steep hillsides with greenstone outcrops meet river bottom, creating a particularly rich and varied habitat. The walking is relatively easy. Most of the trail is flat and smooth although there are a couple of short hills near the end.

With luck we will find blooming Appalachian phacelia (Phacelia dubia), wild pinks (Silene caroliniana), wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), cream violet (Viola striata), and fire pinks (Silene virginica). There may even be a few open blooms of Curlyheads (Clematis ochroleuca), an unusual herbaceous clematis.

In addition to wildflowers, the site has some noteworthy trees, shrubs and ferns including basswood (Tilia americana), fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), false indigo bush (Amorphus fruticosa), fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), and hairy lip fern (Cheilanthes lanosa). Two likely to be in bloom are paw paw (Asimina triloba), and bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).

The trail is also rich in history, and we will be able to examine remnants of the historic Woolen Mills Dam and a canal lock. In addition, the old Woolen Mills and an early power plant will be visible on the far side of the river.

We will meet at 1:30 in the southeast corner of the Pantops Shopping Center in the small side parking lot next to the Dollar Store. (Note that this is the shopping center just east of Free Bridge at the foot of Pantops Mountain.)


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