An approximately 30-acre area that provides a resource for nature study, teaching, scientific research, recreation and quiet reflection, Robert E. Urban Nature Trail is an important feature in the campus aesthetic, and a link to our historical and cultural heritage. Located on the ridge above Roxanna Booth and Gribble residence halls, the area has been maintained in a forested condition since the time that the Davis and Elkins families were living in the Graceland and Halliehurst mansions.
The Nature Area includes several different ecosystem types, including a stand of old-growth Appalachian hardwood forest with a number of trees, mostly oaks, that attain breast height diameters of three feet or more. Another small part of the area was planted in white pine in the 1940s. A smaller portion yet is essentially in an old-field successional sequence. The area is traversed by the self-guiding S. Benton Talbot Nature Trail.