Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: U.S. Forest Service, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, (276) 783-5196
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free
- Visit Website
Site MMR05: Homestead Road/Fairwood Valley
Elevation: 3418 ft. Rt. 741/Homestead Road is a 3.5-mile road that joins SR 16 and Rt. 603/Fairwood Valley. The drive is scenic, with views of Fairwood Valley to the south and Brushy Mountain to the north. This site is actually a driving tour of Homestead Road, which has a number of convenient pull-offs for easy wildlife viewing. As Homestead Road winds through the valley, the road traverses a variety of habitats including open hillside meadows, shrubby grasslands, oak stands, eastern hardwood forest, and roadside hedgerows. Truly, this is a prime road to look for colorful and animated nesting birds in good numbers. In summer, visitors should look for sparrows, eastern towhee, house wren, blue-headed vireo, and chestnut-sided warbler. Barn and northern rough-winged swallows patrol the open fields in aerial display. Wild turkey, or perhaps ruffed grouse, might be seen with young following closely behind. Migrant songbirds should be plentiful in spring and fall. While overflowing with avian species, other wildlife abounds. White-tailed deer are numerous and might be seen by a quiet observer. Black bear, red fox, and coyote are also denizens of this area, but are a little bit more elusive. Rt. 603 through Fairwood Valley has several pull-off areas for wildlife viewing also. About 0.5 miles west of the intersection of Rt. 741/Homestead Road and SR 16, on Homestead Road, there is a pull-off on the right side of the road. Only 2 vehicles can park in this spot, but from here hikers may want to access the Comers Creek Falls Trail. This 0.5-mile trail leads to the small Comers Creek waterfall in an eastern woodland forest.
From Hale Lake, continue west on FR 57 for 0.6 miles to Rt. 672; turn right and travel 0.5 miles to Rt. 798. Turn right and follow Rt. 798 northwest for 2.9 miles to Rt. 612. Turn left on Rt. 612, heading west for 4.3 miles to Rt. 614, turn left again and continue west 3.3 miles to Rt. 695. Turn left on Rt. 695 and travel 0.7 miles to SR 16. Turn left on SR 16 and drive south 6.1 miles to Rt. 741/Homestead Road; this driving loop begins with the right turn onto Rt. 741 and continues for 3.6 miles to Rt. 603/Fairwood.