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Azalea Forest West


AZALEA PARK, Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Best Nature Play Themes

Park Narrative Summary & Directions

There is access to several nature play zones next to Moore’s creek via a path from the east parking lot around the playground. One is anchored by a sycamore with three stems which is an ideal home-base and another accesses a rock dam which can be scrambled on. At both of these locations there is access to the water and amble areas for digging in the sand and mud. Between these areas, there are areas for exploration, building, and hiding between shrubby brush and natural berms. Moreover, the clearings provide space to build with the gathered debris or a place to return to when running and hiding (or playing exploratory games). Across the parking lot, there is a trail that leads to the residential neighborhood at the top of the hill. This trail passes through a diverse forest fragment ecosystem of older trees and replete with fungi, seed, and birds.

All Nature Play Themes

Risk Play Opportunities

There are a few opportunities for risk play, especially in running through the hiding area (shrub-brush), attempting to climb trees without many low branches, scrambling across rocks, balancing on tree branches over the creek, stepping stones across the creek.

Transportation Infrastructure

Driving, Parking, Walking There are parking lots and access from them next to the clearing and playground, both of which have access paths to the nature play zone next to the creek. On the opposite side of the parking lot there are paths that lead into the housing community that allow for pedestrian access to the park.

Accessibility Considerations

There are uneven dirt paths, a steep slope, big roots, deep sand and sandy slopes which would make walking tricky for someone with balance issues.

Safety Factors

There are several play spaces close to the playground with clear lines of sight. While a few others have more limited places for parental supervision making the area is more for adventure with plenty of hiding spaces and brambles.

Ecological Educational Opportunities

The banks are heavily eroded and there is trash in the creek. Because many people walk their dogs here there may be bacterial contamination in soil and water. On the hillside, there is a forest fragment with a robust diversity which includes beech, hickory, holly, pine. Because of this diversity there are opportunities to encounter many types of birds, to see trees with seeds and berries, and to observe fungal decomposition of woody matter.