Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (276) 783-4860
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset;Hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or access permit required.
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Site MBW09: Rural Retreat Lake
Elevation: 2542 ft. Rural Retreat Lake is a relatively large lake surrounded by hardwood forest and reedy marshland. It is accessible from several areas along its southern and eastern shore. Facilities include a boat ramp, camping and picnic areas. A trail follows the southern shore of the lake ending at the dam. In summer, the area is prolific with nesting wetland species including red-winged blackbird, and green heron in the swampier sections. The lake itself offers prime habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl in winter and migration. The occasional osprey and bald eagle are fairly common and can be seen virtually any time of year. The forested areas, composed of a mixture of oak, maple, and pine, attract an interesting array of songbirds. Fields near the lake host some of the few bobolink nesting in Wythe County. Look for these jewels in longer grass that hasn't been harvested or on roadside telephone wires, especially near the intersection of Rt. 615 and Rt. 679.
From Crawfish Valley, return to Rt. 680 and turn right, following it west 2.4 miles across I-81 where it becomes SR 90 East. Cross US 11 and go through the Town of Rural Retreat where SR 90 becomes Rt. 749. After 3.2 miles, turn right on Rt. 677/Rural Retreat Lake Rd. and proceed 1.4 miles to the site entrance on the left. Continue 0.8 miles to the end of the road at a picnic and camping area.