Fortune's Cove Preserve
Fortune's Cove Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) provides a challenging hike that rewards visitors with stunning mountain vistas. The 755 acres preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades. The oak-hickory forests at Fortune's Cove are representative of this part of the Appalachians. Most of this forest is young, but uncut chestnut oak grows in a small area near the ridgeline of Woods Mountain. <p> Fortune's Cove straddles Virginia's Piedmont and Blue Ridge. Here, these two ecological regions meet to form a unique collection of flora from both areas. The preserve also is nestled within some 29,000 acres of relatively unfragmented forest, providing excellent wildlife habitat. The plant community—i.e. combination of plant species—found on the glades is thought to be extremely rare, with fewer than 20 examples known to occur worldwide. <p> The 5.5-mile loop trail climbs steeply from the parking area, gaining some 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching its highest point. Hikers should be in good physical condition and should allow six hours to complete the entire loop. A gravel parking area and kiosk with trail map are at the preserve entrance; there are no restrooms. Open daily, dawn to dusk, year-round.