About the Trail
The Chimney and Witness Tree trail of the Germanna Foundation’s Siegen Forest provides a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of history. Chimney and Witness Tree Trail Guide (pdf)
The path begins just behind, and to the right of the Cloister at the Germanna Foundation Visitor Center.
The Chimney and Witness tree trail is a short (0.5 mile) one-way trail.
You will walk to the top of the bluff and then retrace your footsteps to the Cloister.
It is relatively flat except for a small hill to get down to the chimneys.
The Chimney and Witness tree trail takes you to the beginning of the Germanna Foundation development of this property, to a magnificent Tulip Poplar tree that probably was here during the Civil War, and all the way back in time to the first and second settlers in the 1700s.
The first landmark you will visit is a 10’ x 10’ concrete “Speakers’ Platform”.
This is the concrete pad where speakers addressed the gathered members of the Germanna Foundation on their annual meeting/picnics before the property was developed.
Just down the hill from the Speaker’s Platform are two stone chimneys.
This area is on a bluff about 80 feet above the river and the millrace used by the original settlers.
These chimneys are from the Urquhart family houses, ca. 1760.
As you walk from the Cloister, you will visit the Speaker’s Platform.
Note the large Tulip Poplar tree that is growing at the front of the concrete pad. It was probably just a twig at the first meetings.
Just past the Speaker’s platform are the twin chimneys from the two Urquhart houses.
One of them is pictured below.
A side trail takes you to one of the largest trees on the property—a Tulip Poplar.
It is called a “witness” tree because it probably was here during the fighting of the Civil War in the 1860’s.
If trees could talk what things would it describe of that time.
The tree is held up by Edward Furlow, Virginia Forester who surveyed the property for the foundation in April 2012. Yes, that is a vine he is holding!
Trail Rules & Safety Guidelines
Vehicles may park in marked parking spaces only. To help protect our trails and property, please remove/replace the yellow chain across our access road as you come and/or go after Visitor Center hours. Germanna Community College Security patrols our property, and visitors may be subject to video surveillance. There is no general public boat access to the river (members and organized groups may be granted boat access with advance written permission), and there are no restroom facilities along the trails. All visitors must adhere to “pack it in, pack it out” practices, and follow these additional rules and safety guidelines:
- Use of metal detectors or other sensing devices, digging or other ground disturbance, or removal or collection of artifacts, materials, plants, or relics is strictly prohibited. Please notify the Foundation if you see any evidence of such activities.
- Help protect our historical sites by staying on the trails. Do not walk on the Civil War earthworks or walk on or move rocks at any historical building sites.
- Do not drink water from streams or the river.
- Wear insect repellent and appropriate clothing and shoes. Beware of poison ivy, chiggers, ticks, and snakes. Foxes, bears and even a coyote have been reported in the Forest.
- Picnicking is allowed at the established area(s). No overnight camping and no fires are allowed, except for Scouts and other organized and supervised groups, and only with advance written permission from the Foundation. Pack out all your trash.
- Bicycles, motorized vehicles, and horses are not permitted on the trails. Dogs are allowed if leashed and all solid waste must be picked up and packed out.
- Although hunting inside the Foundation’s Siegen Forest is illegal, it is wise to exercise caution and wear bright colors when walking the trail during hunting season.
- Beware of trail hazards and uneven surfaces. Please notify the Foundation if you notice any areas of the trail requiring special maintenance or work. Wear sturdy shoes or boots.
- Road traces and animal trails crisscross the area. To stay on the hiking trail, follow the map carefully and look for the 2” x 6” colored blazes on the trees.
- Trail markings: a single blaze indicates you are on the path. The blazes are spaced so you should see the next one as you pass a blaze. A double blaze indicates the trail changes direction.