Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Region III Office-Marion, (276) 783-4860
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; Hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or access permit required.
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Site MBW01: Big Survey Wildlife Management Area
Elevation: 3103 ft. The 7300-acre Big Survey Wildlife Management Area lies on the southern edge of the Town of Wytheville. Area elevations reach about 3640 ft. and the average elevation is about 3000 ft. Striking sandstone outcrops are visible at a number of sites on Sand and Lick Mountains. This area is a beautiful place to visit in the spring and early summer when the azaleas, laurel, and rhododendron are in bloom. There are a number of unmarked, unimproved trails on the property that are open to hiking. Along the ridges of Lick Mountain, hikers may be rewarded with the sight of pink lady slipper and a glimpse of times past as they pass under a dense mid-story of American chestnut sprouting up from the hidden roots of trees that helped shape our history. Many of the hollows on the area, though usually dry, receive generous inputs of water during wetter parts of the year. Lush carpets of Galax cover these drainages in response to added moisture. The sheer size of this woodland tract makes this an important breeding habitat for neotropical migrant and woodland birds. Species designated by Partners in Flight as priority species for management that are likely to occur on the property include wood thrush, worm-eating warbler, eastern wood-peewee, hooded warbler, and northern parula. Black bear, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, turkey, timber rattlesnake, fox squirrel, least weasel, northern dusky salamander, and Herodias underwing moth are also likely to occur on the area.
To High Rocks Trailhead: From I-81, take Exit #77 and turn onto the service road on the southeast side of the interstate. Follow this frontage road southwest towards Wytheville for 1.6 miles to Rt. 649. Turn left on Rt. 649/Atkins Mill Road and proceed through the quarry for about 0.8 miles. Turn left on Rt. 720/Whippoorwill Road and travel 1.9 miles to a stop sign. Turn left on Rt. 640/Piney Mountain Road. Enter the Big Survey Wildlife Management Area in 0.8 miles, soon after passing the first (and last) residence on the ascent of Sand Mountain. At the top of the mountain is the trailhead to High Rocks. Travel 1.0 mile past the gap to The Wildlife Road, another primary trailhead into The Big Survey. This gated road is on your right. To The Tower Road: From the High Rocks Trailhead, return to Rt. 640 and turn left. Follow Rt. 640 down the mountain to Stones Mill and Rt. 696/Barretts Mill Road. Turn left on Rt. 696/Barretts Mill Road and follow this road approximately 1.5 miles to a gated road on the left. This is another primary trailhead into The Big Survey.