Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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- Site Access: Free, Daily
Site MLN09: River Trail- Ripplemead to Narrows
Elevation: 1584 ft.; 1521 ft. The 13-mile trip from Ripplemead to Narrows will take all day. Along this stretch the New River weaves slowly back and forth as it winds its way north between the N&W Rail lines on both sides of the river and the imposing peaks of Pearis and Peters Mountains. At Narrows, as the name suggests, the river narrows forming a famous rapid just past the town. It is one of the few Class III rapids along the New River in Virginia and just a taste of what is to come for the adventurous paddler heading north into West Virginia. The New River virtually explodes with wildlife. Waterfowl, turtles, muskrat and numerous fish are found on or in the water. The banks, where land and water meet, hold the greatest diversity. Herons and egrets quietly stalk the shallows while yellow-throated vireo, indigo bunting and song sparrow call from the towering sycamore. The shoreline hosts thickets of yellow and orange jewelweed along with raspberry bushes and young rubbery sassafras stalks. Colorful butterflies patrol these thickets, occasionally dropping to the bank for a quick drink and a few vital minerals. Stay on the lookout for the big showy swallowtails: eastern tiger, pipevine, spicebush and black. The smaller and subtler beauty of pearl crescents and harvesters need a closer look to be appreciated, but are well worth the search. For those looking for a challenge, there are a variety of skippers and azures to test the limits of one's identification skills.
Return to US 460 West in Pembroke; travel west on US 460 for 3.7 miles to Rt. 636. Turn right onto Rt. 636 and follow it 1.3 miles through the Town of Ripplemead. Right after crossing the railroad tracks, bear right to the river access area on the left under the US 460 bridge.