Relax, Explore and Learn at Lynchburg’s Parks
There’s something magical about summertime in the Hill City—the vibrant greenery, chorus of birdcalls and crisp air swirling with floral notes—and Lynchburg Parks & Recreation strives to make it easy for everyone to get out and enjoy nature. Numerous scientific studies reveal the mental and physical benefits of being outside, explained Debbie Hoffbeck, Parks & Rec Chief Naturalist, so getting the community outdoors is crucial to Lynchburg’s vitality.
With over 1,000 acres of parkland and 36 miles of trails, one does not need to step very far in Lynchburg to find themselves on the right path. In addition, Parks & Rec offers lessons in archery, fishing and more, as well as day hikes, family campouts and a number of other activities to help get people of all ages to experience new things.
“Around here we have so many opportunities for activities it is a shame people are afraid to try it the first time,” Hoffbeck said. “So we try to make it easy.” The department also strives to keep events low or no cost.
Below are some unique activities and hidden gems for people of all ages and stages of life to check out.
HOLLINS MILL PARK is a quiet, shady destination set before a beautiful stonework dam. Hoffbeck said that while Percival’s Island is a popular location—and rightly so—and easily accessible, Hollins Mill is her favorite due to it being a bit less visited, giving it a more peaceful aura. At 521 Hollins Mill Road, the park is right along the Blackwater Creek Trail and has picnic tables and fishing access.
IVY CREEK PARK has plenty to offer, from fishing in a lake stocked with trout and catfish (state fishing license required but it’s catch and keep) to some short, scenic trails. There are also canoe and kayak rentals available at the 118 Clemmons Lake Place destination.
It’s no secret, but in addition to extensive playground equipment, tennis and basketball courts, plenty of picnic areas (including shelters and a gazebo) and 49 acres of scenic parkland, RIVERSIDE PARK also has a sprayground. What’s not to love?
Lynchburg is looking to light up the night on Saturday, Aug. 5, with the city’s first GLOW RIDE. The event is free and open to all ages with prizes awarded for the most festive bike. Percival’s Island is the setting for this luminous 6-mile round-trip ride, beginning at 9 p.m. Attendees must decorate their own bicycles with lights; color and creativity is encouraged.
Who says games are just for children? An ADULT FIELD DAY will be held in City Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 26 from 5 – 9 p.m. Teams of six (up to 12 can register by Aug. 18) will take part in a number of events, including a water balloon toss, three-legged race, corn hole and dizzy T-ball. Players must be 21 or over.
THE NATURE ZONE AT MILLER PARK is a great place for children to develop a love and appreciation for nature. A variety of local critters and live exotic animals are kept there, some of which may be pet with permission and assistance from a staff member. There are also a number of hands-on discovery items, from animal hides and bones to insect jars, pine cones and feathers. Touching is as welcome as looking so kids can get a firsthand learning experience.
Also at Miller Park, FOOD TRUCK THURSDAYS gives everyone an excuse to get outside and enjoy good food from local vendors, together. Until the end of September from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. about five to seven trucks visit the park. The event encourages families and friends to meet up, professionals to get out of their offices and everyone to stretch their legs while getting to know some of their neighbors.
There’s no better way (at least in this writer’s mind) to close out a perfect summer day than to see the sun set behind the Blue Ridge (painting the horizon a marvelous blend of teal, orange and purple) and then relax to a movie with family and friends. And to vary up a cinematic experience, check out the free MOVIES IN THE PARK, which now alternate once-per-month between Riverfront and Riverside parks from May to September. All flicks are family-friendly, though the Riverside Park titles are more kid-oriented. Last year’s events were a hit, with 800-1,500 people each time. Guests need to bring their own chairs or blankets. Food trucks are on-hand about an hour-and-a-half before sunset, when the film-under-the-stars begins. Find the Movies in the Park schedule on page 2. Learn more about Lynchburg’s Parks at lynchburgparksandrec.com or Facebook.com/LynchburgParks.
By Drew Menard