ANNUAL MANUAL- Sports and Rec: Charlottesville and Albemarle Parks
Azalea Park: Despite the 2002 city code's strict leash laws in most city parks, dogs can still run free in Azalea's fenced-in field as long as owners keep them under voice control and take responsibility for cleaning up after them. Azalea offers a Junior League Softball Field, concession stand, basketball courts, swing-sets, and playground. Azalea Park also offers city residents garden plots for $40 per plot ($60 per plot for non-residents). Azalea's 23 acres are on Old Lynchburg Road on the southern edge of town near Interstate 64.
Forest Hills Park: On Forest Hills' lower ground, a paved parking lot leads to a Little League baseball diamond. The park's hillier sections offer picnic shelters and outdoor grills. Playground equipment includes slides, swing sets, a merry-go-round, animal rockers, and a horseshoe pit. Finally, at the head of the valley lies a long flat section with two full basketball courts and two wading pools with a swing set.
McIntire Park: Thanks to the Charlottesville city parks' premier benefactor, Paul Goodloe McIntire, this park is filled with activities and entertainment. Located off the Route 250 Bypass, McIntire is densely packed with trees and winding streams. The community takes great pride in the park's two lighted Little League baseball fields and three 70-person shelters that cost $85 for an all-day weekend or holiday reservation; $55 for weekday reservations. McIntire is the location of April's popular Dogwood Festival carnival and fireworks. McIntire Park sports a nine-hole sand green golf course, and a playground with a tot area and wading pool. Across the Bypass is the popular skateboard park. Picnicking, kite flying, and Frisbee are all available at the golf course. Enjoy it while you can, though. The oft-discussed Meadowcreek Parkway would run right through it.
Meade Park: Meade Park's five acres at the corner of Meade Avenue and Chesapeake Street are the home of Onesty Swimming Pool overlooking a stream bordered by weeping willows. The swimming area provides a large lighted outdoor swimming pool, wading pool, showers, restrooms, and locker facilities. (Renovation of the pool is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2007.) A playground, basketball court, unofficial softball field, and picnic shelter are also available.
Meadowcreek Gardens: A prime Charlottesville area for gardening lies off the Route 250 Bypass on Morton Drive behind the English Inn. The area known as "The Fairgrounds" is most renowned for its 73 community garden plots available for city residents to grow flowers and vegetables. Another undeveloped 20 acres of the park provide a footpath through the woods.
Pen Park: The largest park in Charlottesville– at 280 acres– Pen Park has been at this spot for over 200 years. The park's varied topography offers a mountain vista backdrop to recreational activities that include eight tennis courts, a Little League baseball field, batting cage, volleyball court, three outdoor picnic shelters, and a playground. The 18-hole Meadowcreek golf course offers a clubhouse and pro shop, along with an outdoor physical fitness course. The handicap-accessible course features 20 exercise stations leading to the Rivanna River. Pen also offers three lighted picnic shelters, each of which can accommodate 70 people and is available for reservation from April to October with prices ranging from $85 on weekends and holidays to $55 on weekdays.
Quarry Park: Off Monticello Avenue, Quarry Park sits where a road once led to an old stone quarry. The park's nine-plus acres offer two Little League baseball fields and a concession stand with restrooms. Quarry is part of the Rivanna Trails System and provides visitors with enjoyable views of the nearby mountains.
Riverview Park: These 26.5 acres bordering the Rivanna River at the eastern edge of the city, formerly part of Riverview Cemetery, morphed several years ago into a family hiking paradise. Known initially as the Rivanna Green Belt, in March 2004 the original tar-and-gravel trail was covered with asphalt– and then striped like a highway in May 2005. In addition to the long walking, jogging, and biking trail, Riverview offers a picnic area with a large paved parking area, information center, playground, grill, benches, and an open field. The Belt is also handicap-accessible, and leash law restrictions are waived on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday so Fido can scamper about and meet friends. Other days the city's leash law pertains.
Tonsler Park: The almost-always-bustling Tonsler is Charlottesville's version of Centre Court at Wimbledon. The tennis park's many other amenities and convenient location near a neighborhood supermarket make it a popular gathering place. In addition to tennis courts, Tonsler provides a life-size chess board, lighted basketball courts, a Little League baseball field, and a variety of playground equipment.
Washington Park: One of the most historical parks in Charlottesville was dedicated in honor of the famous African-American rights leader Booker T. Washington in 2001. Over a century ago, Washington became a close college friend of Charlottesville's educator Benjamin Tonsler. Despite its meager nine acres, Washington is one of the most popular parks in the area with three lighted basketball courts, a lighted outdoor pool with wading area and bath house, a recreation building, a playground, and restrooms. At the bottom of a grassy hill, a second basketball court, regulation softball field, and multi-use field complete Washington Park's offerings. Washington has also become well known as the site of the African American Cultural Arts Festival in July.
CITY-COUNTY JOINTLY OWNED PARKS
Darden Towe Memorial Park: This beautiful park by the Rivanna is known in some circles as "the dog park," and for good reason. In addition to the park's three softball fields, four tennis courts and four multi-purpose fields for soccer, lacrosse, and football, a small part of the park's 110 acres is fenced to allow dogs to frolic and owners to socialize. Visitors also enjoy access to the Rivanna River and a picnic shelter with electricity, open grills, and seats up to 50 people for a $25 fee. Darden Towe, on Route 20 North/Stony Point Road, is open year round from 7am until dark.
Ivy Creek Natural Area: Managed by the Ivy Creek Foundation, this gorgeous 215-acre natural area offers over six miles of walking trails, but with a strict set of rules that prohibit pets, jogging, hunting, and collecting specimens. The volunteer Ivy Creek Foundation provides nature programs throughout the year. Members of the Monticello Bird Club lead monthly bird walks through the area while members of the Virginia Native Plant Society lead a plant walk on the third Saturday of every month. Off Earlysville Road near the Reservoir.
Ragged Mountain Natural Area: Another paradise for sturdy hikers, Ragged Mountain offers beautiful but somewhat challenging trails. A variety of trees including mature oak, hickory, poplar, pine, and maple surround the 980-acre park's two lakes to create four miles of total shoreline. Trekkers should allow at least two to three hours to complete the somewhat treacherous seven-mile hike around the area's perimeter. The trail ascends 850 feet into the Ragged Mountains. In order to protect the wildlife, water quality, and serenity of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, no dogs, jogging or running, bikes, collecting, horses, hunting, swimming, or camping are allowed. Located off Reservoir Road beyond the Fontaine Avenue exit from the 250 Bypass, the Natural Area is open 7am-dusk.
Beaver Creek Lake: With more water than any other county park (115 land acres, 104 water), Beaver Creek is a fisherman's dream. Beaver Creek Lake prohibits swimming, but picnic tables are scattered throughout the park along with seasonal restrooms. Beaver Creek is open 7am-dark (6am during peak fishing season). The Lake lies off the 250 West bypass on Brown's Gap Turnpike (Rt. 680).
Chris Greene Lake: The park's 120 acres of land, 60 acres of water, and two acres of beach offer swimming and canoe rental as well as two main picnic shelters with electricity and available seating for 84 and 42 people. Eight picnic tables and five grills are also scattered throughout the park located off Route 680 on its own Chris Greene Lake Road.
Dorrier Park: Despite its small size, Dorrier provides numerous athletic opportunities. Near Scottsville, the two-acre park has softball and soccer fields, two tennis courts and a walking path. A picnic shelter with electricity seats 50 (with restrooms!). Off Page Street in Scottsville.
Mint Springs Valley: Mint Springs' water territory (eight acres water, two acres beach) offers public swimming, and in addition to regular fishing regulations, Mint Springs also provides licensed trout fishing October 1-June 15. Mint Springs' whopping 504 acres offer picnic tables and grills as well as two picnic shelters seating 24 and 48 (grills and electricity, too). Mint Springs also offers a variety of hiking trails, including a half-mile lake trail and a nearly two-mile fire trail. Mint Spring's whopping 504 acres of land tragically became famous when Piedmont Airlines Flight 349 plunged into its hillside, killing 26 people in October 1959. The lone survivor, Phil Bradley, helped develop a monument at the crash site dedicated in 1999 to those who lost their lives in the accident. The park is located on Mint Springs Road off Route 684.
Simpson Park: For a smaller park, Simpson provides numerous athletic sites through its 13-plus acres featuring a water spray area and a sunning plaza open May-September. The facility also offers a Little League baseball field, a multi-purpose field open to the public, two tennis courts, and a basketball court. A 32-person picnic shelter offers open grills and seasonal restrooms. Simpson is located off Route 627/Porter's Road on Simpson Drive.
Totier Creek: Totier provides a simple and quiet fishing environment for those hoping to reel in the catch of the day. Hike the 144 acres, but don't try to swim in the 66 acres of water– it's the water supply for Scottsville. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park along with seasonal restrooms.
Walnut Creek: Walnut Creek is one of the few parks in the area offering a balanced combination of land, fishing, and athletic activities. The 480 acres include a 34-acre golf course, completed last year with the help of the Blue Ridge Disc Golf club. The land also boasts 15 miles of paved trails for biking, hiking, and running. Swimming is available, along with canoe rental and two picnic shelters seating 42 (with electricity)– but only one during swim season. Four more picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, and restrooms are also available. Walnut Creek is off Old Lynchburg Road.
Charlotte Y. Humphris Park: Near Albemarle High School, across the street from Mario's, this used to be called "Whitewood Park," but was re-christened in honor of a beloved late County supervisor.
Prefer walking around Charlottesville to driving? Then take a look at the Rivanna Trails Foundation. Their goal is to establish a network of footpaths encircling the City of Charlottesville, generally following the course of the Rivanna River and its tributaries. To date they've completed approximately 20 miles of hiking trails.
Bailey Park: Located at the corner of the Route 250 bypass and Hillcrest Road, the small one-third-acre park contains a bench and tall trees providing shade and a comfortable picnic setting.
Belmont Park: Not your typical neighborhood park, Belmont balances a playground and park areas within the neighborhood. Stonehenge Avenue, Rialto Street, and Druid Avenue bring together Belmont's 3.1 acres. The park provides a full basketball court, bleachers, swing set and slides, a courtyard, and large shady trees that provide protection for outdoor concerts. Belmont also recently completed seven years of renovation making its new spray ground now available to the public.
Fifeville Park: Its facilities sit above the common ground on the street with a basketball court, shelter, and playground. Fifeville's fenced-in .67 acre lies is bounded by Grove, Spring, and King Streets.
Greenbrier Park: This city refuge contains 28.3 acres along Meadow Creek. Sycamore groves, a meadow, and Greenbrier marsh (one of just two natural marshes in the Virginia Piedmont Region) provide visitors with numerous views. The park is part of the Rivanna Trails system.
Greenleaf Park: One of the best city parks to take younger children, visitors enjoy a playground area, a summertime spray shower, a picnic shelter with restrooms, and a half basketball court. Greenleaf's fenced-in 14 acres of grassy hillside include hardwood and evergreen trees.
Jackson Park: The park's main attraction is the large equestrian monument of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson created by Charles Keck, who played a vital role in the entire development of Jackson Park. The statue ranks among the three best equestrian statues in the world. Part of the Virginia Civil War Trails, the park also includes many beautiful flower beds. Jackson hosts the Jefferson Thanksgiving Festival as well, with Revolutionary era re-enactments and displays. The less-than-half-acre park is surrounded by Jefferson, Fourth, and High Streets, and the Albemarle County Courthouse.
Jordan Park: On just-over three acres at the south end of Sixth Street, the park borders Moore's Creek. Facilities including a basketball court, playground, grill, and picnic tables.
Lee Park: The dominant equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee was first conceived by Henry M. Shady and later finished by Leo Lentelli as another gift from Paul McIntire in 1924, three years after the Jackson monument. A little over an acre of remaining park land offers a comfortable setting with numerous benches, checkers and chess set tables, as well as pretty flowers and shrubbery. Lee is bordered by Jefferson, First, Market, and Second Streets.
McGuffey Park: On just over an acre of land, McGuffey shares its hill with the Art Center of the same name at Second St. and Jefferson. Currently, a major makeover at the park sponsored by UVA's Landscape Architecture School and Friends of McGuffey Park has destroyed the old merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms (as well as 13 big trees and over 50 little ones), with plans to replace them with spicas and a waterwall.
Northeast Park: The park offers a full basketball court, playground facilities, a grill and picnic table, as well as a footbridge to Marshall Street. Just shy of five acres of land, it sits at the corner of Sheridan Ave. and Calhoun St.
Rives Park: Visitors enjoy a view of Carter Mountain along with access to a basketball court, softball field, a shelter with four picnic tables, and playground equipment. The neighborhood park offers over four acres of flat open space not far from Quarry Park.
Starr Hill Park: The park provides nearly half an acre of comforting open field. Starr Hill can be found at the corner of Seventh St. NW and Elsom St.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
City Parks & Rec
City Code requires owners to keep their dogs leashed at all times in city parks. Owners must also clean up the feces of dogs in their care. Failure to abide by these laws is a class-four misdemeanor. Owners are, however, provided with specific fenced-in areas at some parks where dogs can roam. Picnic Shelters (other than McIntire & Pen Park) are available at a first-come first-serve basis. All city-owned parks are open 6am-9pm.
County Parks & Rec
All parks that offer fishing require all fishermen to hold a Virginia State Fishing License. All lakes offer abundant sunfish, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. Fishing parks (Chris Greene Lake, Mint Spring Valley, Beaver, Totier and Walnut Creeks) normally open at 7am (6am during peak fishing seasons). Parks permitting swimming are open 10am-8pm Memorial Day to Labor Day. Swimming is prohibited if lifeguards are not on duty. A park user fee (county residents: $2/children, $3/adult; non residents: $3/children, $4.50/adults) is also charged during the swim season. Chris Greene Lake and Walnut Creek offer canoe rental ($5/hour). Picnic shelters are available at numerous parks for $25– free during swim season. U.S. Coast Guard-approved boats and crafts are welcome on the lakes; however, gasoline and fuel oil-powered motors are prohibited. Hunting is strictly prohibited in all County parks.