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Pen Park


Pen Park, Pen Park Road, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Best Nature Play Themes

Park Narrative Summary & Directions

There is a network of nature trails that follow the perimeter of the park that are accessible from any of the parking areas at the entrance. The wooded area along the river is a large, dense forest that creates many opportunities for exploring and playing in the woods. This would be a great place for collecting or trading sticks and other treasures from the forest and playing around off the trail itself. The full perimeter trail can take a long time to complete but there are opportunities to shorten it by cutting back through to the entrance at the center.

All Nature Play Themes

Risk Play Opportunities

The park is so large that it is possible to get lost in the forest between the trails and the entrance. Some of the trails also run next to the Rivanna River, which has a high bank and could potentially be dangerous for young children to swim in unsupervised. It can also be dangerous to be exploring the golf course without paying attention to the people playing golf.

Transportation Infrastructure

There is plenty of parking at the one entrance to the park. There is also a great shared use path separated from the road leading into the park. While there is not a bus stop at the park itself, there is a CAT stop at the end of Pen Park Rd.

Accessibility Considerations

The trails around the golf course are paved and would be very accessible to persons with disabilities. However, the trail in the woods is not paved and there are topography changes, roots, and mud that would create obstacles for people with mobility limitations.

Safety Factors

The park itself is surrounded by a river and some very nice private communities, so the park feels very safe. The only safety concerns would be getting lost in the woods or playing too close to the river.

Ecological Educational Opportunities

There is some erosion by the river.