Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 248-9360
- Site Access: Daily. Hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or access permit required.
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Site MHJ08: T. M. Gathright Wildlife Management Area
Elevation: 1829 ft. T. M. Gathright Wildlife Management Area stretches along the Alleghany Mountains to the West Virginia State Line. Along Rt. 600, numerous opportunities present themselves to park and walk up into the mountains from the road. This access facilitates wildlife watching opportunities in a variety of habitats and altitudinal zones. In the forest close to the road, the woods are filled with yellow poplar, white pine and paw-paw which, in turn, attract many woodland species including red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers, acadian flycatcher, eastern wood pewee, white-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo and eastern towhee. Look to the roadside meadows for black-eyed Susan, crown vetch and Queen Anne's lace, which attract eastern tiger swallowtails and silver-spotted skippers in droves. These open areas are also frequented by indigo buntings, which can often be seen singing from high prominent perches. In late summer, the meadows host the aptly-named Halloween pennant as they cruise the wildflowers in search of a meal. For the more adventurous, the higher elevations of the WMA are accessible through a number of challenging uphill hikes. These hikers can be rewarded with sightings of scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak and a number of warblers including cerulean, hooded, black-throated green and black-throated blue.
From Blowing Springs Campground, return to SR 39, turn left and go 1.5 miles to Rt. 600. Turn left and travel 2.3 miles to the wildlife management area (right side of Rt. 600). Continue 4.4 miles; the WMA will be on both sides of Rt. 600. There are several pullout areas to park and walk into the forest.