Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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- Site Access: Free, Daily
Site MMH04: Burke's Garden
Elevation: 3086 ft. Burke's Garden lies in a massive bowl that was once a mountain that collapsed in on itself over time. This unique geology has formed a depression surrounded by mountain ridges which has led to the Garden being known as "God's Thumbprint." Home to some of the most fertile land in Virginia, the resultant valley is the highest in the state. It is also home to some fantastic wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery. The country store just before the school marks the official start of the Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail. Park at the school and explore the area on bike or on foot. The mix of woodland, grassland, and marsh provides habitat for a wide variety of birds. More elusive species such as bobolink and loggerhead shrike have been reported intermingled amongst more common eastern meadowlark, and grasshopper and song sparrows. In summer, marshy areas are replete with wood duck, mallard, green and great blue herons, and Canada goose. Duck diversity is heightened in winter and during migration. During this time, the mill dam on the creek is a good sight to look for bald eagle, while golden eagle could appear anywhere in the garden. The wooded hillsides hold wild turkey and ruffed grouse, which occasionally halt traffic as they cross the little traveled roads leaving the Garden.
From Sandy Head Ostrich, turn right and proceed 1.6 miles to Rt. 623. Turn left and travel 7.4 miles to the parking lot of Burkes Garden School on the right.