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Greenbrier Park


1900 Greenbrier Drive, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Best Nature Play Themes

Park Narrative Summary & Directions

Greenbrier park features a diverse set of rooms with a wide variety of nature play potential. Namely, the park is transected by Meadow Creek and the Rivanna Trail. There are two footbridges that cross the creek, though adventurous types will not find wading across the clear, shallow creek difficult. Areas of grassy meadow with wildflowers can be found on either side of the creek. The trails, especially on the southern side, are furnished with lots of downed wood, fallen logs next to the trail, and are open to undergrowth. Along the southernmost edge of the park there is a boggy area with mud for digging and evidence of an active deer population. The bog has a relatively clear undergrowth layer and is dotted with trees - there is even a tent-like structure made from logs and branches at the entrance to this boggy room. On the northern side of the park there is a large, gently vegetated mound for surveying, which is also a continuation of the grassy meadow. While the banks of the creek are generally gentle enough to encourage access, as you move towards the railroad culvert at the eastern edge of the park, the banks become more steep. One particularly amazing feature of the creek is a small pebble island, which lies in the middle of a bend towards the culvert. The banks down to the water are steepest here, though the water is still shallow and the island is it’s own reward - smooth pebbles make a wonderful spot for exploration and imagination. The unpaved trail on the southernside of the creek has a notable tree vine to swing on. Aside from a lone picnic table, there is not a great place for a home base, though the meadowed area is great for a picnic. Along the southwestern bank of the creek there are some wildflowers for foraging near Greenbrier Drive.

All Nature Play Themes

Risk Play Opportunities

The creek comes with a number of risk play opportunities, such as balancing on submerged rocks, descending steep embankments, and balancing on logs as bridges.

Transportation Infrastructure

Walking, Biking, Street Parking

Accessibility Considerations

The park has one consistently gravelled path on the north side of the creek and the trails are generally flat though not always wide. Footbridges on either end of the park make crossing the stream practical. Park entrances are paved paths that enter from either neighborhood to the north and south or from Greenbrier Drive at the western edge.

Safety Factors

Traversing the creek, balancing on logs, descending steep embankments, stepping on submerged rocks, and running through the undergrowth are all potentially hazardous activities. The bog area is muddy and parents likely won’t follow their children in; one could easily get lost/ disorientated in this area though not dangerously so. Finally, the eastern edge of the park is a huge hill of rocks that lead up to the railroad tracks. The rocks are treacherous and a narrow path leads up above the concrete culvert, not to mention the railroad at the top. That being said, it is prohibitively difficult to get up to the railroad anyway.

Ecological Educational Opportunities

The diverse landscape of meadows, bogs, forest, and the creek make for an interesting study in ecology. Notably, the riparian area of the creek and it’s potential for erosion is of educational value.