|Riverview Park &
The Rivanna Greenbelt Interpretive
|On a year round basis, deer,
foxes, groundhogs, beavers, muskrats, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, raccoons,
opossums, fish, owls, Canada geese, and many other birds live here.
During the spring, summer and fall you will find
wildflowers such as Wild Asters, Golden Rod and wild sunflowers.
In the winter you may find this area covered with
a blanket of snow or frost with animal tracks.
Look for purple passionflowers
in the summer
|As you begin your nature walk today, you are
entering the flood plain of the Rivanna River.
A flood plain is a flat, low land along a river
formed by the deposit of sediment from repeated flooding. As a result the
soils are a mixture of sands and silt, ranging from well drained to poorly
drained soils. Floods also deposit various plant and tree seeds resulting
in a variety of trees and plants not often found in the area.
The stations are marked on numbered posts. Also
please look to see what interesting plants, animals and trees you can find
between the described areas. From post number One to the footbridge, the
end of the interpretive part of the Greenbelt Trail, is about 1 + 1/4 miles.
For a shorter walk, a little past post number Five you can turn to the
left and follow the loop back to the parking lot.
|1. At this first
stop you will find typical flood plain species of White
Ash and Green
Ash (Fraxinus), Box
Elder (Acer) and scattered
Red Cedar (Juniperus). The Red
Cedar is not a typical flood plain species.
|As you continue up the trail you will be walking
upstream, that is, opposite to the direction of the flow of the Rivanna
River on your right. Along the river you will see large trees of flood
plain species, such as: Sycamore
(molted bark ranging in color from white to green to almost black), White
Ash (grayish bark) and Hackberry
(corky bark). These large trees help stabilize the river bank but severe
floods can damage or destroy them. Look for evidence of flood damage along
the trail and you will better understand the meaning of a flood plain.
|Beavers (Castor canadensis) are
very active in this area. In spring, winter and fall you can easily see
evidence of beavers. Look for cone-shaped stumps, chips and downed trees
on both sides of the trail. Along the bank you will see slick areas (called
"beaver runs") where they come and go from the water.
|2. Many Sycamore
trees (Platanus occidentalis) are found along our trail. This large
one is covered with Poison Ivy
vine (3 leaflets). Poison Ivy and
Oak leaves, vines and roots are toxic
to humans. Notice the sediment basin that settles out sand and other soil
particles from washing into the river.
|3. At this Sycamore
tree you will find Japanese Honeysuckle on the ground and climbing into
the tree. Also, there is a grape vine in the Sycamore. Honeysuckle is a
good deer food and squirrels and foxes enjoy the wild grapes.
|4. Look for the large
tree with Virginia Creeper
growing in it. The fruit of this tree is shaped like a long cigar and is
edible by animals. Catalpa is not a typical flood plain species but seeds
have come down river from Catalpa trees on old estates. Virginia Creeper
has 5 leaflets in a cluster compared to three for Poison Ivy. Virginia
Creeper leaves and vine are non-toxic.
you will find a Mimosa
(Mimosadeae). The Mimosa seed was brought into the flood plain by
wind and water from surrounding homesites. The pink flowering Mimosa is
a beautiful sight in the summer time and attracts many types of birds.
|6. The Persimmon
(Diospyros Virginiana). Fruit of this tree is enjoyed by wildlife.
It is also edible and tasty to humans after the first frost.
|7. On the left side
of the trail going upstream you will find two large Hackberry
Trees (Celtis occidentalis), a common low land species in the south.
These trees are old and breaking up due to age and storm damage. Poison
Ivy vines and Japanese
Honeysuckle are beginning to climb the
trees and cover the lower part of the stems and branches.
|8. Look closely for
stump which shows beaver activity. Beavers first make an underwater foundation
of mud and stone, then gnaw down trees, and drag or float the cuttings
to the dam site to incorporate into the foundation with more mud. They
work mostly at night. Wood cuttings are stored underwater to be eaten during
|9. Rock bluffs are
on the left side of the trail going upstream. This rock is commonly called
greenstone and is the origin of the red clay soil familar to this area.
A greater variety of trees and plants are found here as the site changes
from flood plain to upland.
|Upland species found on the rock bluffs are Red
Oak (Quercas borealis), White
Oak (Quercus alba),
Oak (Quercus Montana), Basswood
(Carya glabra), Ironwood
(Carpinus caoliniana), American
Holly (Ilex opaca),
Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and
(Asimina triloba). The fruit of the Pawpaw tree has a banana flavor
when ripe. The fruit is relished by many wildlife species and is also edible
by humans. As you walk along the bluffs, you might also notice the common
Christmas Ferns growing beneath the trees.
Walnut (Juglans nigra) is a fast
disappearing species because of overcutting for valuable furniture wood.
Nuts of this tree are also edible to humans and squirrels.
|Approaching the footbridge you can see the following:
|Immediately to the left at the entrance to the
bridge is a large Hackberry
(Celtis occidentalis). Characteristic corky bark identifies this
|Growing along the right side of the bridge is
a large White Ash(Fraxinus
americana) with a large hairy Poison Ivy vine growing up the tree.
|At the upper end of the bridge on the right (approximately
100 feet) is a large wild grape vine
from the ground to the top of the trees. Squirrels and foxes in particular
like the grapes.
At this point the interpretive trail ends, but
the Greenbelt Trail continues up to Free Bridge at Route 250 and will eventually
extend up to Darden
Towe Park and Pen Park.
|Charlottesville Parks and Grounds would
like to thank Charles Witter, a retired forester, for writing the interpretive
material for this brochure, and Paul Spicer for drawing the art illustrations.
A hardcopy version of this brochure is available in the brochure boxes
along the Greenbelt Trail.
Riverview Park & Rivanna Greenbelt
Parks and Grounds Home
Revised 4/5/01 by Stowe Keller
City Home Page