Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MHJ09: Lake Moomaw
Elevation: 1634 ft. Lake Moomaw's location adjacent to T. M. Gathright Wildlife Management Area weaves in another set of habitats, escalating the observer's chance to see even more wildlife. The large reservoir, formed by damming the Jackson River, provides opportunities to see numerous open water and shoreline species at several access points. The open fields and scrubby woodland next to the lake provide ample habitat for indigo bunting, eastern kingbird, ruby-throated hummingbird, American goldfinch, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Upon moving closer to the water, the visitor enters the reservoir's drawdown zone, an area of natural variation between high and low water. This is prime habitat for innumerable dragonflies; Halloween pennant, yellow-legged meadowhawk, eastern amberwing and widow skimmer zip around in large numbers. Examine the shoreline carefully. Lake Moomaw has 43.5 miles of shoreline, so this could take some time, but the rewards are surely worth the effort. From January through July, bald eagles nest along the shores of the reservoir. During migration, numerous species of shorebird are possible with solitary, spotted and least sandpipers being the most likely. During the summer months, great blue and green herons frequent the various inlets, as do vocal killdeer. The open water itself could host a variety of waterfowl at any time intermixed with the resident Canada geese. Careful examination can turn up the occasional oddity such as American coot and even common loon.
From T.M. Gathright Wildlife Management Area, continue south on Rt. 600 for 2.9 miles to a fork in the road. Follow the left fork and travel 1.0 miles to the boat launch and concessions area, or take the right fork and continue 1.2 miles to picnic and camping areas. To return to the interstate, return to Rt. 600 and turn right on Rt. 603. Follow Rt. 603 to Rt. 687 and turn left onto Rt. 687. Rt. 687 ends at SR 39. Turn right on SR 39 and follow it to US 220 in Warm Springs. From here, follow US 220 North to start the Little Switzerland loop or follow US 220 South to the Allegheny Highlands Loop or I-64.