In our Sabbath afternoon wanderings, we have stumbled on a local gem of a place - Staunton River Battlefield State Park. Really this park is two separate visitor centers tied together by a trail. The trail is through a Civil War battlefield and goes across a bridge over the Staunton River.
Driving between the two centers adds significant mileage, but the hike between the two is short, only 1.2 miles. The Clover Visitor Center is open Saturday- Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Roanoke Station Visitor Center is closed for renovation, but there is a river overlook and a letterbox hidden, I won't tell you where, you'll have to check out the clue on: www.atlasquest.com. .
I recommend starting your visit at the Clover Center. They have a small, but rich nature and history center. Here you will learn a little about the wildlife and can learn a lot about the battles fought in this 300 acre park. There is a play area that blends into the forest because it was built with wood, but my children love to stop there are play. It has a log obstacle track and a log teeter totter. (*update: they have installed a new children's play area next to the nature center)
The park has three main trails, with several side trails to explore. We enjoy hiking all of the trails because there are so many different experiences on each trail and they are short enough to make them enjoyable for young and old alike. https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/document/data/trail-guide-stauntonriverbattle.pdf
The Edgewood Trail will lead you to an overlook of a wetland where you can watch turtles and ducks. It also takes you on a wooden board walk and to what my kids like to call a "fort" where you can get up high and look across a meadow. This area of Virginia doesn't have a lot of hills, so climbing up something to take a look from up high is a special treat for me and my kids, who are used to mountains and hills.
This park doesn't charge an entrance fee, but I encourage everyone to support your state parks by purchasing an annual pass. It's only $70 and will get you into all state parks for a whole year. We use ours all the time as a COVID-safe, active lifestyle way to travel and explore our state. Virginia homeschoolers are able to visit state parks for free when you show your teacher's card or NOI. I love the programs that the parks put on and will share in another post an experience we had at a local park I never would have thought had anything to do with Veteran's Day.
Get out with your family and explore!