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Roanoke County to expand Read Mountain Preserve

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The Read Mountain Preserve is once again expanding with the addition of 56 acres.

The property acquisition will allow the county to eventually expand the existing trail system, while also provisioning a second entrance to the preserve off Old Mountain Road.

Formed in 2008 with 243 acres through citizen-initiated efforts to preserve the open forest, the preserve was again expanded in 2020 with the addition of 304 acres of forested land for open space and outdoor recreation, according to Roanoke County records.

The same family who sold the additional property has again come to a deal with the county, selling the latest parcel for $365,0000, according to Parks and Planning Director Lindsay Webb.

This week we’re talking with Emma Coleman, a Roanoke Times reporter who covers public safety in the Roanoke Valley. Her story to be published Sunday is about Mack Malloy, a young man who was a victim of gun violence, and how he has been helped o rebuild his life and set goals through an African American Culture Class hosted by Total Action for Progress. Previously limited to high school students, the class has been expanded thanks to a grant from the Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

Matilda Holland Bradshaw, 81, said the land has been in her family for decades, and she and her sisters and cousins wanted to make sure it was preserved for people to enjoy the outdoors and the view from the summit at Buzzards Rock.

“The view from the top is gorgeous, and for that to remain available to people is what my family and I have always wanted,” she said.

The top of the Buzzards Rock ridge and the northern face of Read Mountain were largely in the hands of the Andrews’ descendants, the family which has held the property for generations, and where the Roanoke Apple Orchard was once located. Bradshaw is part of the Andrews family.

The majority of the funds for the latest acquisition, $290,000, have come through grants from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation and Pathfinders for Greenways, a local nonprofit formed in 1997 to promote the development of the greenway network in the Roanoke Valley.

Webb said the project is still likely years down the road, though the Pathfinders could start expanding the trails sooner.

With the development of trail access on the north side of the preserve, the public will be able to hike more directly to Buzzards Rock.

The park includes a 5-mile trail system with moderate to strenuous levels of difficulty.

Located in the Bonsack area of the county, the preserve is hidden behind a series of neighborhoods, before turning onto Crumpacker Road.

With only about 10 parking spots, the amount of people able to currently enjoy the preserve at one time is limited, which is one of the reasons Webb said the additional entrance has been planned.

The current 547-acre preserve is forested with the exception of a trailhead parking lot and a park access road on the south side of Read Mountain.

The land is steep, with many rock outcrops, but also has perennial streams and large cove hardwoods. Read Mountain is in the viewshed of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Great Wagon Road ran down Old Mountain Road, and the area still has many historic sites, such as Monterey and Bellvue.

County Supervisor Phil North said the preserve is a crown jewel for the area, and he believes these types of projects are why many people are interested in visiting or moving to the area.

“It is sort of like economic development in a way,” he said Wednesday. “People are attracted to this area because of our outdoor offerings.”

North also said he was pleased the county was able to acquire the land with minimal cost of taxpayer dollars.

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Sam Wall covers Roanoke County and Salem. He can be reached at (540) 981-3356 or sam.wall@roanoke.com

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