Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MSC07: Mill Mountain Park (including Star Trail)
Elevation: 1703 ft. This site offers 500 acres of parkland atop Mill Mountain, which rises 800 feet above the City of Roanoke. In addition to a zoo, this site offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and two overlooks that provide 20 and 60-mile vistas across the City of Roanoke. Nature enthusiasts and wildlife-watchers would probably find most interest in hiking the Star Trail. This 1.7-mile trail traverses over 800 feet from the Roanoke River to Roanoke's highest point- the summit of Mill Mountain. Most of this trail meanders through forested areas composed of pine, sassafras, oak, maple, redbud, and locust trees. Beneath the canopy of these towering trees thrives an understory of mountain laurel and low bush blueberry, with a forest floor carpeted in mosses and ferns. This site is excellent for spring and fall migratory warblers, including bay-breasted, Blackburnian, and prairie warblers. Nesting migrants include wood thrush, ovenbird, and black-and-white warbler, as well as white-eyed and red-eyed vireos and indigo bunting. American kestrel, eastern bluebird, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey are resident within these woodlands. The large number of sassafras trees undoubtedly attracts numerous, fluttering spicebush swallowtails. Eastern tiger swallowtail, northern pearly-eye, and common wood nymph may also be spied flitting about the forest. White-tailed deer, gray squirrel, and eastern chipmunk are common mammalian denizens of this park. Look for herps such as black rat snake, eastern box turtle, and American toad.
From Chestnut Ridge Trail, return to the Mill Mountain Parkway spur off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn right on J. B. Fishburn Parkway and follow it 1.3 miles to Mill Mountain Park on the left.