Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (276) 328-2931, U.S. Forest Service-Clinch Ranger District Office
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free
- Visit Website
Site MBS05: Keokee Lake
Elevation: 2238 ft., Keokee Lake is located just west of the Town of Appalachia. The site contains two trails that surround Keokee Lake, the Keokee Loop Trail (3.7 miles) and the Olinger Gap Trail (2.5 miles). The Olinger Gap Trail connects the Keokee Loop Trail to the Stone Mountain Trail, which runs along the ridge of Stone Mountain between Roaring Branch and Cave Springs Recreation Area-about 14 miles. All three trails lead through dense woodlands. In season, an impressive assemblage of warblers and other neotropical songbirds sing throughout the forest. The far side of the lake, comprised of rhododendron thickets may produce views of Swainson's warblers. Broad-winged, red-shouldered, and red-tailed hawks hunt the woods and lakeside during the day, but are replaced by nocturnal birds of prey, such as the great-horned and barred owls at night. Sensitive and alert eyes might find red fox, wild turkey, bobcat, and coyote secretly moving through the forest. Black rat snake, northern watersnake, northern copperhead, eastern milk snake, and eastern garter snake are present here. Eastern painted and common musk turtles sunbathe openly along the banks, while green and pickerel frogs and spring peeper remain less conspicuous. The grassy fields and meadows along the parking area have a colorful array of insects. Dragonflies such as banded pennant, calliope pennant, eastern pondhawk and common whitetail buzz around, defending their territories. Butterflies are also abundant, including several species of skippers and sulphurs, eastern-tailed blue, meadow fritillary, and painted lady. Within the woods, visitors should look for satyrs, red-spotted purple, and the local Appalachian brown.
From Roaring Branch, continue northwest on US 23 Business towards the Town of Appalachia for 1.3 miles to North Inman/SR 68 West. Turn left at the stoplight onto SR 68 and follow it for 7.8 miles to the Lee/Wise County Line. At the line, SR 68 will become Rt. 606; continue to follow Rt. 606 about 2 more miles to its intersection with Rt. 623. Turn left onto Rt. 623, follow it for 0.5 miles to Rt. 876, and then turn left onto Rt. 876. Follow this about 0.8 miles to the parking lot at the lake. To return to a major road; backtrack along Rt. 606 to SR 68 and US 23. From here, follow US 23 south to begin the Daniel Boone Loop.