The New River starts deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern North Carolina and continues north. These waters flow through the heart of bluegrass and county music’s beginnings, where, most times of the year, you can still hear the banjo and fiddle music playing. The New continues on, into West Virginia where it merges with the Gauley River to form the Kanawha. This river continues on to the Ohio River, the Mississippi, and then the Gulf of Mexico. The New provides a fantastic venue for wildlife watching by car, foot, boat, bike or horse. In addition to the river traversing into Virginia here, the Mountain Music Loop brings visitors close to the roots of American folk music. Here in the small town of Fries and the City of Galax, the fiddlers come together each year to show off their talent and compete for the title of “best muscian” for a year. This loop also has ample opportunities to explore the local wildlife, beginning with 57 miles of trails in the New River Trail State Park and extending to a half dozen boat ramps along the New River in Grayson County. Look for a variety of open country birds along the trails and banks of the river while exploring this loop. Check the river itself for waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors such as osprey. The small number of forested parks in the region should be explored for resident forest birds as well as a variety of warblers and vireos in migration. Damsel- and dragonflies, and butterflies are plentiful along the river with the multitude of boat ramps providing easy access to moist riversides and open grasslands.