Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
Big Walker Mountain Loop
Wythe County's dynamic grasslands and breathtaking vistas hold great possibilities for the wildlife enthusiast. Starting in the Wytheville watershed at Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, visitors are treated to unique geologic features as well as breathtaking views to watch hawk migrations. Traveling west, visitors are introduced to Walker Mountain and its incredible views. On a clear day, the horizon ripples with the seemingly endless mountain ranges, and travelers can look out over these stretching peaks across five states. These mountains house drumming ruffed grouse in the spring and, come summer, their young race across the roads under the watchful eye of mother standing still at the roadside. As the mountains roll into West Virginia, the landscape transforms from shrubs to mighty white pines and from damp fields to windswept ridgelines. These changes bring warblers, yellow-breasted chat and common yellowthroat at the field's edge; blue-winged and golden-winged warblers where the forest begins to grow; Blackburnian and pine warblers in the few remaining old growth white pines; and black-throated blue and Canada warblers where the ridges touch the sky. Returning east, the locally renowned Rural Retreat Lake produces surprises throughout the year with its numerous waterfowl, the occasional grebe or loon, and the possibility of nesting least bitterns or swamp sparrows. The surrounding fields are some of the few remaining that still support bobolink, a rare and declining species in Virginia. The viewing opportunities extend far and wide, from hiking through the forest for hours on seemingly endless trails to standing still atop Big Walker Lookout taking in the phenomenal view.
Wythe County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail Program recommends checking the following Web sites for lodging, restaurants and other service providers: