Our peek leaf color for 2021 was in November. If asked, I would normally tell you to expect it the second week of October but that certainly wasn’t the case this past year.
On November 14th, the Homestead Hikers hit the trail at Beaver Creek Reservoir and we caught some breathtaking color. The Homestead Hikers is a hiking group through the College for Older Adults with the Reynolds Homestead. Annual dues in 2021 were $10 and it’s a very fun and friendly good. There’s probably not a better investment in fun in the area.
First off, our Beaver Creek Reservoir is NOT the reservoir built in 1964 for the town of Crozet. That one is about three hours northeast of here, just east of Staunton, Virginia. (This is not the only place in Henry County with a more famous counterpart, so you have to pay attention).
The Martinsville Reservoir is 174 acres and is about 8 minutes from downtown Martinsville. It has a fishery maintained by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The game fish population includes largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish and yellow perch.
It also has a beautiful trail that is just incredible when the leaves change.
Now that we’ve established that there is some confusion over the name of this place, I’m going to call it the Martinsville Reservoir going forward. That’s how the state has it.
Both the trail and the reservoir are open for public use only on the weekends between sunrise and sunset. They are very literal about this. Memorial Day and Labor Day Mondays do not count and you will arrive only find the entrance barred by a metal gateway.
When open, there are two entrances to the park but either will get you to the trail head.
The trail is easy for all ages and abilities. It wanders all around, snaking its way down to the shoreline of the lake and then back again. If you take a gander at the Homestead Hiker’s Facebook page, Betty Kirkpatrick took an absolutely stunning photo of the group all gathered on a point that juts out into the lake a little, canopied by bright yellow and orange leaves.
It was a fun hike out and back, starting from the picnic shelter.
The picnic shelter accommodates sixty (60) people, has restroom facilities, water access, three grills, four large trash cans, and electric outlets. It can be rented from the city for $50 for the day or $30 for a half day. Check the Martinsville Parks & Rentals page for more info (and, pro tip, the area code is 276).
Just below it is the boat launch/parking area.
We crossed the road after having circled back to the picnic pavilion and continued along a trail that was less obvious and more densely wooded. The trees are blazed so you should be able to find your way. The walk through fall foliage was gorgeous.
This trail crested at a spot that overlooks that reservoir and has features left over from some previous use. I asked a private Facebook group that specializes in area history if anyone knew what the history of these were and the consensus was that this used to be a picnic area.
Thanks to them, I can now see that the picture below is of an old grill. I imagine that there would have been a metal grate over it back in the day. The stonework is beautiful. I can see where the black metal grills on poles are probably safer but they lack the character of this one.
Someone mentioned that there used to be numbered picnic areas here so there may be more stonework grills like this tucked away in the woods. It’s something to look for if you decide to try to follow the blazed trees on this side of the road.
The trail eventually leads down to the banks of the reservoir, not far from the dam. The PHCC Loop Trail, so named because of its connection with Patrick & Henry Community College, approaches the dam from the other side. Our hike leader said that extensions to the existing trails are planned.
From there, it is a short walk to the boat launch and picnic area. The open metal shelter visible on the boat launch houses kayaks that are available to the public for kayaking from April through October. The rental for a kayak/canoe is $10 a day plus there is a $10 refundable deposit for the key needed to unlock them. There is a Canoe Rental Form available on the city’s website here.
Non-gasoline powered boats are allowed on the reservoir but must have a permit. The permit fee posted to the Virginia DWR webpage in February of 2022 is $3 a day or $15 for a calendar year. This water is the water supply for the City of Martinsville so there may be other restrictions on what kinds of motors or boats will be permitted. The Lake Warden can answer more specific questions.
Boating fees for active, retired and disabled military veterans are waived.
If you like to fish, you might be interested in the 2020 video below where they show the construction and launch of “fish attractors” along the banks of the reservoir. They put in twenty in 2019 and another thirty-four in 2020. The attractors are made out of concrete and corrugated drainage pipe so that the fish have some structures that won’t be as prone to snag hooks as other materials might be.