Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve
The protection of Crow’s Nest is arguably one of Virginia’s highest land conservation achievements, becoming a reality in 2008 with the first acquisition parcel. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Stafford County added 1,110 acres to the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve, bringing the total area of Virginia’s 54th state natural area preserve to 2,872 acres. Funding for the two tracts purchased came from a variety of sources including DCR, Stafford County, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Aquatic Resources Trust fund of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.
Crow’s Nest is, simply, a beautiful place and considered highly significant from numerous standpoints. Topography is varied, with the high narrow ridgeline rising 160 feet above two tidally influenced creeks: Potomac and Accokeek. The peninsula is deeply dissected on both its northern and southern flanks by a series of deep ravines cutting into ancient coastal plain marine sediments and feeding tidal marshes along the bordering creeks.
Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve supports:
- 750 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands. The wetlands on the Crow’s Nest peninsula account for 60 percent of all the marshes in Stafford County, and represent some of the best examples of diverse and intact wetland habitats in the Potomac River drainage;
- 21 miles of stream, riparian and wetland buffer;
- 2,200 acres of mature hardwood forest including two forest types that are recognized as globally rare by DCR’s Natural Heritage Program;
- nesting bald eagles, habitat for the federally listed short-nose sturgeon, and habitat for twenty-two plant species that are significant for the Coastal Plain of Virginia;
- habitat for about 60 species of neotropical migratory songbirds, nearly 60 percent of which are experiencing population declines, including ten species that are high global priority species of Partners In Flight;
- spawning, nursery and/or feeding habitat for 49 species of interjurisdictional fish and seven species of mussels and commercially valuable shellfish;
- lands and waters that have played important roles in the Native American, Colonial and Civil War histories of Virginia.
There are two access options for visitors to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. The Raven Road Access point features an 18-car parking area and 8 miles of hiking trails within the forested interior of Crow’s Nest via an improved 1.6-mile long entrance road. The Raven Road Access is open Thursday-Sunday. The Brooke Road Access point offers parking for 20 cars, a shoreline birding/nature trail to viewpoints of Accokeek Creek, and an ADA-accessible canoe/kayak launch facility serving as a trailhead for the Crow’s Nest Water Trail. The Brooke Road Access is open 7 days a week.
Public Access Hours:
March 15 – October 31: 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM
November 1 – March 14: 8:00 AM until 5:30 PM
From I-95 take the Stafford Exit (exit 140). Take Route 630 (Courthouse Road) one mile east to Stafford (intersection of 630 and U.S. 1). Cross U.S. 1 and continue east on Route 630 for about 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Route 629 (Andrew Chapel Road) and continue for 0.9 mile. Go under the railroad overpass at the community of Brooke and turn left onto Route 608 (Brooke Road). Continue for 1.4 miles, then turn right onto gravel Route 609 (Raven Road). Cross the 1-lane bridge over Accokeek Creek and continue for 0.2 mile. The Raven Road Access gate for Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve will be on the left.
To reach the Brooke Road Access point continue on Route 608 (Brooke Road) past Route 609 (Raven Road) for 1.5 miles. The parking area will be on the right.