Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (828) 298-0398
- Site Access: Free, Daily
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Site MSL07: Rocky Knob/Rock Castle Gorge Trails
Elevation: 3209 ft. This extensive 10.8-mile loop trail ranges in elevation from 1700 feet to 3572 feet at Rocky Knob. Encompassing 4500 acres of land, this site abuts the boundaries of both the Blue Ridge Plateau and the Virginia Piedmont. Rock Castle Gorge, a 1500-foot ravine, carved by the waters of Rock Castle Creek, is the focal point of this trail. Several trails originate at this trailhead. A visitor center is located north of this parking lot, on the west side of the road near Rocky Knob picnic area. Check in at the visitor center and ask for a trail map. Spring can be very productive for large numbers of warblers, thrushes, and vireos. Cerulean, blackpoll and yellow-rumped warblers are likely to be found during migration. Nesting species include American redstart, black-throated green and Kentucky warblers, and abundant indigo bunting.This rejuvenated area contains over 60 species of native trees and 200 species of wildflowers. Wild turkey, red fox, woodchuck, white-tailed deer, and bobcat are local denizens. Most services listed for this site are available at Mile Post 167 and some services may only be available during summer months.
Elevation: 3453 ft. The beautifully crafted buildings of this winery are situated among pristine lawns with blooming ornamentals. Lawn edges abut eastern hardwood forests; an entire 120 acres forms the estate of Chateau Morrisette Winery. Though there are no trails in place, birds may be heard and or seen flying in and out of the adjacent maturing woodlands. Look for red-tailed hawk, American crow, and pileated woodpecker. American goldfinch, indigo bunting, and house finch frequent the feeders in front of the stone building, housing the offices and restaurant. Ruby-throated hummingbird and butterflies find their nectar among the brightly colored flowers of the garden. Human visitors will enjoy the Sweet Mountain Laurel wine, from which this loop derives its name, harvested from the surrounding vineyards.