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Pollocks Branch


Pollocks Branch, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Best Nature Play Themes

Park Narrative Summary & Directions

There is one main trail going along the Pollack’s branch, which is a heavily polluted and littered stretch of remnant creek, receiving all the stormwater runoff from downtown. Even while polluted and covered by invasive vines, this is still a vibrant forest fragment filled with birdlife to experience and plant matter to make with. There is a grove of bamboo that creates a quite magical space to build with downed bamboo or to hide in between. Likewise there is a good variety of vantage points on the creek, from high above, to level with it, to being in contact with it (and crossing it).

All Nature Play Themes

Risk Play Opportunities

There are opportunities for risk play especially when climbing through the vines (above and below) to access the water from the path. Crossing the creek also requires an element of risk that is exciting. And most uniquely, the height of the eroded banks feels risky just looking down on the water from that high up.

Transportation Infrastructure

There are a few routes for access to the trail either by parking or walking from IX or by parking in one of the side streets that abuts into the creek. Walking infrastructure exists, however there is a lack of designated crosswalks.

Accessibility Considerations

The path is narrow and steep, with uneven ground material and sudden obstacles from above and the sides. Access to the water is even less accessible and the path dead-ends into the creek which must be forded unless you turn around.

Safety Factors

There is only one entrance on either side of the trail and one of them ends on a street without good visibility. Most often the only visibility is coming from one backyard of houses (rather than the whole community) which makes it feel less safe. At the entrance on Elliot street there is little buffer from the busy street and no crosswalk infrastructure which makes it rather dangerous.

Ecological Educational Opportunities

There are many invasive species of vines here, particularly privet, porcelain berry, kudzu, and bamboo. The banks are heavily eroded, laden with trash, and covered in an oily film; this has the potentially to be a lesson in the issues of stormwater management and the effect of culverts and urban systems on the natural environment (even and especially when they are out of sight and out of mind).