Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MAH09: Walton Tract on the Cowpasture River
Elevation: 1366 ft. The Walton Tract provides several access points to the Cowpasture River and an excellent opportunity to approach a variety of wildlife. The fields and woodland found along both sides of the river provide a diversity of habitats to explore. The river can also be explored directly from here via the canoe put-in. Bird species to be expected along the river include green and great blue herons, wood duck, and belted kingfisher. Pileated woodpecker, blue jay, American crow and white-eyed vireo all occur in the trees along the riverbanks, while soaring black and turkey vultures should be viewed carefully for the occasional red-tailed hawk. This stretch of the Cowpasture River supports numerous species of dragonflies. Common species such as eastern amberwing, widow skimmer and common whitetail are joined by more unique species such as prince baskettail, black-shouldered spinylegs and the monstrous dragonhunter. Butterflies are equally plentiful along the banks of the river. Search for eastern tiger and spicebush swallowtails, eastern tailed-blue, eastern comma and pearl crescent. If it's reptiles you want, it's reptiles you'll get. Here, eastern painted turtles and the occasional northern watersnake populate the river, along with numerous bullfrogs. Further away from the water, keep a look out for black rat snakes slithering quickly across the path.
From Lime Kiln Road, go north on Rt. 629 for 1.3 miles to SR 39. Go east on SR 39 for 5.2 miles to SR 42. Travel south on SR 42 for 5.5 miles to Rt. 632. Turn right; head west 1.6 miles to the canoe launch area.