Conserve this: Take it easy at Fortune's Cove
Even though The Nature Conservancy’s national headquarters is located in Arlington, the state office holds down the fort right here on our own little stretch of environmentally incorrect road, 29 North.
The Nature Conservancy is a private international non-profit organization that preserves plants, animals, and natural communities representing the diversity of life by protecting the habitats they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy has been responsible for the protection of more than 12 million acres in the United States. It has 36,000 Virginia members and has helped protect more than 235,000 acres in the Commonwealth, where it owns more than 30 preserves.
One of these preserves is located in Nelson County near Lovingston. Easily accessible from Charlottesville, Fortune’s Cove Preserve provides a challenging 5.5 mile loop hike that rewards visitors with stunning mountain vistas. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades. Conservancy staff and volunteers completed the trail in April 2002 and will continue maintenance for visitors.
You will find few facilities. The created trails are designed to steer visitors away from the most fragile portions of the preserve and toward those areas that can handle more use. 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. Some of the animals spotted include black bear, bobcat, deer, and foxes as well as migratory songbirds such as cerulean and blue-winged warblers, scarlet tanagers, and orchard orioles.
The Conservancy is fairly strict in protecting these private lands; therefore, some of the things that one cannot do include biking, camping, cooking, fishing, hunting, climbing, swimming, and, of course, littering.
What you can do then is hike, birdwatch, and take pictures. Other than that, it’s a wild, wonderful world out there full of low impact walkers searching for proper habitats for family-rearing, survival, and a little exercise.
To reach Fortune’s Cove, take 29 South towards Lovingston. Before reaching Lovingston, turn right onto Route 718 (Mountain Cove Rd.). Go 1.5 miles and turn right onto Route 651. Continue 1.2 miles to Mountain Cove Vineyard, then bear left onto gravel road. Go .2 miles and turn left into preserve parking area. Open daily, dawn to dusk, year-round. For more information call Daniel White at 434-295-6106 or check out their website at nature.org