Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MMH08: The Cove, Tazewell County
Elevation: 2413 ft. The Cove is a sparsely populated farming community situated in Tazewell County and is one of the last remaining valleys expressly devoted to agriculture. The land is used primarily to graze cattle, sheep and horses, with support crops of alfalfa, corn and other grains. The movie "Lassie, Best Friends are Forever" was filmed here in 1994, and Thistle Cove Farm is featured on the video cover. Grassland and open field birds are abundant with large flocks of red-winged blackbird, eastern meadowlark, eastern bluebird, barn swallow and American goldfinch in residence. Look for mockingbird and turkey vulture. American kestrel, bald eagle, blue heron and wild turkey make their home here. The open grasslands are also excellent habitat for grasshopper sparrow during the breeding season and dickcissel in summer. The scenic drive through the area offers wildlife viewing opportunities year-round. Black bear, white-tailed deer, and red fox are among the valley's wildlife. In winter, look for patrolling northern harrier and short-eared owl.
From the Historic Crab Orchard Museum, return to the Business US 460/19/Crab Orchard Road. Go 1.0 miles and turn right onto SR 91/Witten Valley Road. Follow this road 11.0 miles to Maiden Spring where Witten Valley Road becomes Maiden Spring Road. At the intersection of Rt. 609/Wardell Road and SR 91/Maiden Spring Road, turn left onto SR 91/Maiden Spring Road. Pass the volunteer fire department, the old Cove Elementary School, and take the next right onto Rt. 608/Cove Road. Thistle Cove Farm is the first driveway on the left and serves as the gateway to The Cove. There is a sign at the entrance. To return to the interstate, return to Rt. 604 and turn right. Follow Rt. 604 to SR 16. Turn right on SR 16 and continue to Rt. 601. Follow Rt. 601 to SR 91; continue south on SR 91 to I-81. From here, travel north to start the Clinch Mountain Loop.