Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail

Site Information

  • Site Contact: (540) 999-3433,
  • Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free
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Camping Environmental Study Area Hiking Trails Parking

Site MLS09: Madison Run Fire Road, Shenandoah National Park


Elevation: 1364 ft. The Madison Fire Road connects Grottoes with the Skyline Drive. The road, which is closed to public vehicles, makes for an enjoyable hike. This road, like many sites along this loop, is at its best in spring and early summer when numerous breeding birds return from their winter haunts in the tropics. In spring, search for black-and-white, hooded and worm-eating warblers, American redstart, Louisiana waterthrush, scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak, especially as the trail nears the ridge top. Other species that can be encountered along the way include red-bellied, downy, hairy and pileated woodpeckers, eastern wood-pewee, red-eyed vireo and eastern towhee. Ruffed grouse are always a possibility to see walking across the road. The road also seems to act as a magnet for reptiles. Fence lizards commonly scurry through the adjacent leaf litter and eastern garter and black rat snakes are likely to be found casually sunning themselves on the warm road. Timber rattlesnakes may also be encountered.


Return north on Rt. 825 for approximately 0.3 miles to SR 256. Veer right onto SR 256 and continue east for 0.4 miles to its intersection with US 340. Turn left onto US 340 and travel 0.1 miles to Rt. 663. Turn right onto Rt. 663 and proceed east 2.7 miles to the parking area. The top of the fire road is on the Skyline Drive at Brown's Gap (near mile marker 83). To return to the interstate, return via Rt. 663 to SR 256. Follow SR 256 west 6.6 miles until it intersects with I-81. From here, travel south to begin the North River or Forest Trails Loops.

Loop Map