Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MCM01: Hungry Mother State Park
Elevation: 2227 ft. Hungry Mother State Park is a 2200-acre park, encompassing a variety of habitats, including a 108-acre lake as its centerpiece. The intriguing name of this park comes from early American folklore. Legend says that Indians raided several settlements along the New River, south of what is now the park. Molly Marley and her small child were among survivors taken to the raiders' camp. Molly and her child eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries. Molly finally collapsed at the foot of a mountain and her young child wandered along the creek until she found help. The only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." The search party returned to the base of the mountain only to find Molly Marley dead. That mountain is now called Molly's Knob and the creek that the young child wandered along is named Hungry Mother Creek. When the park was developed in the 1930s, the creek was dammed to form Hungry Mother Lake. The park offers approximately 12 miles of trails, camping, picnic areas, and a host of other services and rentals. Several trails traverse the park's property and provide scenic views of a lake banked by steep mountain shoreline, mixed deciduous hardwood forest, rhododendron and laurel thickets, hemlock ravines, and grasslands. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound. Several species of wood warblers nest within the park. In the canopy of oak, hickory, and pine trees, listen for the serenades of northern parula, and black-throated blue, black-and-white, and yellow-throated warblers. Neotropical migrants are plentiful in the spring and the fall. The lake attracts a large number of waterfowl and shorebirds, such as common loon, during migration as well. Other wildlife abounds within this extensive area. Amphibian and reptile enthusiasts will enjoy opportunities to find worm, eastern milk, rough green, and black rat snakes. Gray treefrog, pickerel frog, and bullfrog are among several of the anuran species known to take residence in the park. Salamander diversity can be pretty exciting with eleven species of salamanders recorded within the park, including mountain dusky, spotted, black-bellied and northern slimy salamanders.
From I-81 in Marion, take Exit #47 to US 11 South. Continue south 1.1 miles to SR 16. Turn right and follow SR 16 for 3.8 miles to the park entrance on the right.