Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 427-1800 x322 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Admission Fee, Daily
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Site MSC05: Virginia's Explore Park
Elevation: 1064 ft. Virginia's Explore Park is a 1100-acre preserve, situated along the Roanoke River Gorge, offering extensive wildlife-viewing opportunities. Located on a spur of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this site offers mountain bike trails, fishing, canoe rental and access to the Roanoke River, historical sites, and several hiking trails, including handicap-accessible trails. Habitats within the park include oak-hickory-beech forests, shale cliffs, riparian woodlands, wetlands, ponds, riverine woodland bottoms, and open meadows. Red-tailed, Cooper's, sharp-shinned and red-shouldered hawks are resident within the park year-round. Other residents include pileated woodpecker, barred and great horned owls, and wild turkey. At water's edges, look for green heron and belted kingfisher. Summer nesting species include ovenbird, great crested flycatcher, wood thrush, black-and-white warbler, eastern wood-pewee, and hooded warbler. Spring and fall can be productive for finding other migratory warblers and thrushes, as well as vireos and tanagers. Spicebush and eastern tiger swallowtails, great spangled fritillary, and red-spotted purple flit about the park in search of blooming wildflowers. Beaver, white-tailed deer, muskrat, and even gray fox have been sighted at the park as well.
From the Wolf Creek Greenway, return to Gus Nicks Boulevard/E. Washington/SR 24 and continue east 1.0 miles to the junction of SR 24 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go south on the Blue Ridge Parkway for 2.9 miles to the entrance road to Virginia's Explore Park (milepost 115). Follow signs, turning left onto this road, and continue heading south for an additional 1.5 miles to Virginia's Explore Park.