Visitor Center Museum Closed During Construction Project
The museum at the Henry Hill Visitor Center is closed due to the installation of a fire protection system in the exhibit area. The visitor center and gift shop remain open daily and the park film is shown hourly. More »
AMPHIBIANS AND VERNAL POOLS
Vernal pools, also known as ephemeral wetlands, prairie potholes, whale wallows, sinks, and kettles are rain-filled depressions that amphibians use for breeding and laying egg masses. These pools can be as small as a puddle. They fill with water in the spring and are usually dried up by June or July. The reason some amphibians use these areas for breeding and laying egg masses is simple - they lack predators (fish) that eat their larvae.
A wonderful spot to view a large vernal pool in the park is along both sides of the boardwalk on the Stone Bridge Loop Trail that runs parallel to Route 29 (Lee Highway), just west of the Stone Bridge. With abundant snow melt and/or spring rains, this area becomes inundated with several inches of water converting a once parched ground into a piedmont swamp forest community with tannic waters from nearby mature Pin Oaks. In early spring, you will hear the high chirping chorus of Spring Peepers and the quacking duck call of the Wood Frog. These calls are meant to attract females to breed. Vernal pools are also a significant habitat for Spotted and Marbled Salamanders found in this area.
Did You Know?
Congressman Alfred Ely, representing upstate New York, was captured by pursuing Confederates during the retreat after First Manassas. Ely spent five months in Libby Prison in Richmond, before being released. He returned to Washington and published an account of his experience the following year.