Charlottesville and Albemarle County boast a number of parks and lakes for public use. Some of these charge entrance fees "in season." The main ones are listed below. For a complete list of parks, see their websites or phone ahead.
City of Charlottesville Parks
Charlottesville Recreation & Leisure Services
Call to reserve picnic shelters in city parks.
Albemarle Co. Parks & Recreation
Call to reserve picnic shelters in county parks.
Beaver Creek Lake
With 104 water acres, this lake is the largest and best fishing lake in Albemarle County. Water supply for the Crozet area, so no swimming. Boat launch, but no gas motors.
Chris Greene Lake
Swimming, fishing, boating, canoe rentals, picnic areas, large and small pavilions, playgrounds, boat launch and a fishing pier. All handicapped-accessible. Spring crappie fishing is excellent. Limited walking trails. $3 for adults, $2 for children 4-12 (in the summer only).
Darden Towe Park
This 110-acre park along the Rivanna River includes four tennis courts, running trails, children's play area, picnic shelters, three softball fields and four multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and football. One picnic pavilion may be reserved for as many as 80 people. There is also a fenced dog park area.
Ivy Creek Natural Area
A great place for hiking, birdwatching and being in nature, while still in town. Just 10 minutes from the Law School by car. Six miles of trails in the forest, nature programs, bird walks. Owned jointly by city and county. No biking and no dogs, even on a leash.
Getting there: 250 Bypass opposite McIntire Rd. exit.
Great wading pool for young children, swings, ball fields, golf course, picnic areas and nature trail. Dogs must be on a leash.
Mint Springs Valley Park
Swimming, picnic shelters, playgrounds, fishing, and 3.6 miles of hiking trails. Handicapped accessible. Pavilions with fireplaces, grills and tables may be reserved.
This is the largest city park, with a nature trail along the Rivanna River, handicapped-accessible exercise trail, 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, volleyball, Little League fields, three picnic pavilions and playground. Dogs must be on a leash.
Ragged Mountain Natural Area
A beautiful, somewhat rugged, natural area for quiet hiking. No dogs, bikes or jogging.
A series of trails in town linking city parks along the Rivanna River. Trail sometimes gets overgrown in summer, but nice in spring, fall and winter. The section behind Law School follows a gorge behind Darden to University Village. See the website for all access points and new trails.
Walnut Creek Park
Great place for mountain biking. Swimming in lake, nature trails, bike trails, fishing, picnic shelter and playground. Entrance fees between Memorial Day (last Monday in May) and Labor Day (first Monday in Sept):