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Grassy Hill is a prominent landmark on the west side of the Town of Rocky Mount. The site is characterized by rocky slopes forested with hardwood species and scattered patches of Virginia pine. Shallow, basic, heavy-clay soils predominate and outcrops of magnesium-rich bedrock are common. These unusual soil and rock substrates provide habitat for rare woodland communities. Several rare plants grow in small grassy openings near the hill's summit. As suggested by its name, there is evidence that this community type once dominated much of Grassy Hill. For example, open-grown oaks with low spreading crowns are found amidst younger, closely spaced trees. Fire scars on some trees indicate that fire may have played an important role in keeping Grassy Hill open. With the advent of effective wildfire suppression during the twentieth century, the open, grassy woodlands slowly transformed into forest and dense woodlands with a continuous canopy.
Public access facilities include a 6.6 mile hiking trail system with kiosk and signage. Parking for trail users is
available adjacent to the preserve.
From Roanoke, take US 220 east to Rocky Mount. When you approach Rocky Mount, take Business Route 220 into town. Go through the first stoplight and turn right onto Technology Drive. Go about 0.1 miles and the trailhead kiosk is on the right.
Ryan Klopf, Mountain Region Steward
Department of Conservation & Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage