The Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, a 142-acre sanctuary for urban wildlife, contains four distinct habitats: a tidal creek and its expansive salt marsh, a riparian forest of pines and hardwoods, a meadow of native wildflowers and grasses, and a non-tidal brackish lake. The preserve provides food and cover for an unusually diverse population of wildlife, including deer, foxes, river otters, crabs, oysters, and over 200 species of birds. Interpretive trails winding through each of the habitats introduce visitors to the ecological, economic, and social value of the plants and animals living at the mouth of the historic James River and Chesapeake Bay.
Tuesday-Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Free. Donations appreciated.
Bordered by Hoffler Creek in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia, this 142-acre wildlife haven sits at the mouth of the James River, connecting to the Chesapeake Bay through the safe harbor of the Hampton Roads. Steeped in history, the creek is named for William Hoffler, a Revolutionary War militia captain. Colonized in the early 1600s, the area was valuable to farmers and fisherman who relied on the James River and channels of the Chesapeake Bay for trade and commerce. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers encamped in the coastal forest witnessed the famous battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac.
Since its inception, Hoffler Creek Wildlife Foundation has sustainably developed the preserve, adding hiking trails, docks and overlooks, kayaking, oyster gardening, and educational programming. HCWF has forged relationships with area schools, colleges, and community groups who come to experience nature firsthand. While they are no longer connected to the property, John and Effie Ballard’s family consistently supports the mission of Hoffler Creek Wildlife Foundation. In consideration of a generous bequest from Juliet Ballard Hawkes, the third of John and Effie Ballard’s children, the foundation named the property’s centerpiece Lake Ballard.
Wildlife viewing; bird watching; wildflower and oyster restoration projects; water quality monitoring; educational and recreational activities; guided tours; school field trips; seasonal kayaking.
Education Pavilion, four easy trails, wetlands observation deck, oyster restoration project pier, bird blind,. No visitor center or boating access.
Unpaved trails are difficult for wheelchairs. Golf cart tours available for physically impaired.