Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Town of Wise, (276) 328-6119
  • Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free


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Site MAW02: Wise Reservoir


Elevation: 2552 ft., The Wise Reservoir provides the water supply for the Town of Wise. Although heavily used by anglers and picnickers, this is also a good venue for wildlife watching. Mixed woodlands surround the waterbody, and walking trails around the reservoir allow the naturalist to explore these forests. In the summers, the woods are home to a number of nesting migrants, including warblers, swallows and flycatchers. Spring and fall migration produce a large number of neotropical migrants. It should be noted that Kirtland's warbler, a rare spring migrant, has been found in the area above the dam on a number of years during early May. Of course, this large body of water is also attractive to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and can sometimes produce unusual species such as surf scoter. Insect lovers will find this is a dragonfly paradise. At water's edge and in the open fields near the boat launch, look for perched calliope pennant and common whitetail. Also look for slaty skimmer, prince baskettail, and several of the large, cruising gomphids as they fly over the reservoir. Herp enthusiasts know that any large body of water is sure to attract the attention of a number of reptiles and amphibians. Bullfrog, green and pickerel frogs, spring peeper, and wood frog are quite common. Northern watersnake are fairly common in these waters and can often be found basking along the banks. Black rat, eastern garter and ring-necked snakes are more common within the wooded interior.


From the UVA College at Wise, turn left on Darden Drive/Rt. 646 and continue east for 1.6 miles to Rt. 829. Go left on Rt. 829 and then turn left immediately on Rt. 682. Follow Rt. 682 for 0.1 miles to the Wise Reservoir entrance.

Loop Map