Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 839-2521 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Free, Daily
Site MHJ05: Hidden Valley
Elevation: 1919 ft. Hidden Valley is aptly named as the lush green valley comes as an unexpected surprise after driving through thick, plentiful forest. The valley is home to many of Virginia's open country birds and provides miles of edge habitat for more species to inhabit. A visit to the valley is probably best in the early morning before the sun gets too hot and the animals retire to the shelter of scrub and woods. In the open areas of the valley, search for birds such as eastern kingbird, eastern bluebird, as well as field and chipping sparrows. Overhead, red-tailed or broad-winged hawks may join the ubiquitous turkey vultures that are busy scavenging. The numerous thickets of scrubby brush support wildflowers, including plenty of vibrant orange jewelweed. This habitat is perfect for gray catbirds, which can be often heard ‘mewing' from deep within cover. Butterflies, such as spicebush swallowtail, common wood-nymph and silver-spotted skipper, also frequent these scrubby areas. The camping area next to Hidden Valley is slightly more wooded and therefore invites exploration of a different mix of birds. In this area, search the small flocks of Carolina chickadee and tufted titmouse for less common species such as white-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo, worm-eating and black-and-white warblers, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Several of the structures around the campground support nesting eastern phoebes - check especially near the restrooms. The trees around the edge of the campground are also worth a closer look since they often provide perches for flycatching cedar waxwings.
From Green Valley Farm, turn left from the lodge and return to Rt. 678. Turn left on Rt. 678 and follow it for approximately 7.0 miles to SR 39. Turn right on SR 39 and continue for 4.0 miles to Rt. 621. Turn right on Rt. 621 and travel north 0.9 miles to Hidden Valley Road. Turn left on Hidden Valley Road and proceed 1.5 miles to the entrance.