Typical of the uniquely American "wilderness" tradition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lee Park was developed with an emphasis on natural scenery and native flora as a symbol of local pride and a refuge from the ills of urban life. The centerpiece of the 331-acre park is Willcox Lake, originally created to supply water to the city. Lee Park is the site of a groundbreaking, depression-era WPA program where African American and white women worked together to create a wildflower and bird sanctuary within the park's boundaries. Today, trails lead from the main road and picnic pavilion around the lake and through the park where the native plant and bird sanctuaries are carefully being restored through the efforts of the Willcox Watershed Conservancy.
Appomattox River Heritage Trail
The Appomattox River is a major tributary of the James River flowing east through central Virginia's Piedmont and Coastal plain. It is an important regional resource that is unique and irreplaceable. The Appomattox River Heritage Trail is a dynamic, growing trail system. It was created through the support of public and private partners working together to preserve, protect and interpret the river as the cultural and natural resource that is the heart of our regional identity. The trail offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and power of the Appomattox River. The Pocahontas portion of the trail runs next to the Diversion Channel, built in 1909 to allow the flood waters from the river to flow around Petersburg's harbor. Follow the Pocahontas Path along the water's edge to find a series of interpretive waysides and seating areas. Other individual segments of the trail are accessible as you head further west past the falls and along the canal to the abutment dam. At several locations the trail connects to Petersburg's historic downtown neighborhoods. Stop by the Visitor Center for more detailed information to guide your further explorations of the river.
Appomattox Riverside Park
Following an intact, 3-mile section of the early 19th century Upper Appomattox Canal, Appomattox Riverside Park—historically known as Ferndale Park—offers hiking along the original canal towpath as well as kayak access to the river and the canal. Long flat-bottom boats known as Batteaus were once used on the canal to bring goods to market in Petersburg from as far west as Farmville. The hiking trail starts at historic Ferndale Park, the location of a Victorian park that once boasted a carousel and movie house. As you walk along the trail, keep an eye out for the otters that live along the banks of the canal. Fly fishing is a favorite of smallmouth bass anglers along this stretch of the river's rapids.
This 37-acre riverfront estate contains the nationally significant Palladian villa built by John Banister III in 1767 and hosts walking trails and wildlife areas along the upper falls of the Appomattox River. Walking along the river trail you can see glimpses of Petersburg's early industrial history as you pass the ruins of mills, dams, quarries and spillways that, for three centuries, have utilized the river's falls for power. Hike to Indian Town Creek, the site of one of the largest Native American trading sites along the early frontier. Just upstream from its confluence with the Appomattox you will find the remains of the large stone aqueduct that once carried the water of the Upper Appomattox Canal over the ravine and across the southern edge of Battersea.