Freedom Park

This was my first visit to Freedom Park, but it won’t be my last. I’d gotten into the habit of going to Waller Mill Park, because it opened when I was a kid and it became a family tradition. Now I have good reason to expand that tradition! Freedom park is at the intersection of Longhill and Centerville Roads. I was impressed with the size of the park and complexity of its trails.

I applaud the amount of historical research and volunteer time and labor that went into its creation.

The 601-acre Freedom Park is home to significant American history – recognized nationally as the site of the earliest free black settlement dating 1803-1860, an 18th-century graveyard, the Revolutionary War Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary in 1781 and a 17th century domicile. Also located in the park are the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, two miles of multi-use trails and more than 15 miles of mountain bike trails. (read full article)

First, we walked into the clearing where some conjectural homes were built to show how free blacks of varying economic levels might have lived in the early 19th century.

Conjectural homes of free blacks in the early 19th century

Conjectural homes of free blacks in the early 19th century

Then, we explored the multi-use trails, which led us through mature woods on wide, well-maintained paths. The trails were well marked, though we did find ourselves on a bike trail at one point and eventually came out on an access road leading back to the botanical garden area. Not exactly the route we had mapped, but still enjoyable and the botanical garden was a real treat. We walked about 1.5 miles, with only a few slopes. We didn’t see much wildlife, which surprised us—only a hawk and some Grandaddy Long Legs were on the trail at 8:00 a.m. Not a squirrel in sight.

The multi-use trail at Freedom Park, Williamsburg, VA

The beginning of the mutli-use trail at Freedom Park.

Botanical garden at Freedom Park, Williamsburg, VA

Botanical garden at Freedom Park, Williamsburg, VA

Butterfly on a huge lantana bush in the botanical garden at Freedom Park, Williamsburg, VA

Butterfly on a huge lantana bush in the botanical garden.

Although it lacks the water views of Waller Mill Park, I give Freedom Park “two thumbs up” for convenience, price (free), historical interpretation, and the beautiful garden. The roof garden on the shelter there is the first I’ve seen. There were no covered picnic shelters, but you could take a brown bag lunch to enjoy under the shelter in the botanical garden, or you could spread a blanket in the clearing near the little houses. If any one has biked the trails, please leave a comment with your thoughts.

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