Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 652-0718 x3 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Dawn to midnight, year-round
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Site MDS04A: Big Gem Park, Town of Shenandoah
Elevation: 952 ft. During the late 1800's, Big Gem was the site of one of the largest pig iron furnace in the valley. At one time The Big Gem Cast Iron Furnace produced over 32,000 tons a year of pig iron that were then shipped from Shenandoah Iron Works via the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. The golden age of iron came to an end in the early 1900's and the land lay fallow for many years. In 1995, Luken's Steel Company donated the land to the Town of Shenandoah where it became known as The Big Gem. Plans for this area include a mix of developed and natural areas to provide a range of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Currently the lake and trail system provide a wonderful opportunity to watch birds like indigo buntings, Carolina wrens, and American goldfinches. During early morning and late evening hours, keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer grazing the edges of the trails. Pay particular attention to the area below the gazebo. This area and the less maintained areas up the trail provide excellent opportunities for viewing a host of native butterfly species and ruby-throated hummingbirds. If you have an afternoon to spend, fishing in the pond is a great past-time. The local belted kingfisher will come by to show you the best way to do it. The pond also serves as a great place to watch dragonflies which dart and dash all around you as you walk along the trail by the pond. Wood duck and heron have been seen visiting here as well.
From the White House Bridge return to US 211 and turn right onto US 211 West/US 340 South. Proceed 2.5 miles to US 340 South BYP turn. Turn left onto US 340 South and continue for 11.1 miles to the intersection with Rt. 602 at the traffic light in the Town of Shenandoah. Continue on US 340 South through the traffic light for 0.3 miles further and Big Gem Park will be on the left. Watch for the gazebo up on the hill and the large pond in the bottom.