Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 328-2931, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free
Site MLP06: Birch Knob
Elevation: 3008 ft. (parking area), Birch Knob, a large rock outcrop located on the crest of Pine Mountain, sits at an elevation of 3120 feet. The uphill climb to the top of the knob is adventuresome, requiring a small amount of crawling through and over rock formations. However, for any naturalist who enjoys hiking rough terrain, the reward is immense. The view atop this summit is awe-inspiring–on a clear day, you can see Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and a distant view of North Carolina. The woodlands at higher elevations are chiefly comprised of mature forest, composed predominantly of beech, oak, hickory, and maple trees. At lower elevations, the woods are more typical of second-growth forests with yellow poplar, sourwood, and several species of magnolias. This is a good site to find nesting neotropical migrants in the summer, such as black-throated blue and black-throated green warblers and scarlet tanager. Dark-eyed junco, typically a high elevation nester, can be abundant here as well. This is also an excellent place to look for spring and fall migratory passerines. In the fall, migration of broad-winged hawks and other raptors can be a sight to see! The anticipated hawk-watch platform will undoubtedly enhance the viewing experience of hawk migration. At the base of FR 616 (immediately after the turn-off from SR 611), stop and explore the area called Mullins Pond. This adjacent area is more open and encompasses fields of blooming wildflowers and flowering bushes. Look here for great-spangled fritillary, eastern tiger and spicebush swallowtails, eastern-tailed blue, azures, and sulphurs. In the summer, this is area can also swarm with ruby-throated hummingbirds.
From Branham Farm Wildlife Area, return to Rt. 611. Turn left and continue west 6.1 miles to FR 616. Turn right on FR 616 and proceed for 4.4 miles to Birch Knob.