Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MSL09: Lower Rock Castle Creek Trail
Elevation: 1721 ft. The Lower Rock Castle Creek Trail forms a 4.5-mile leg of the 11-mile loop called Rock Castle Gorge Trail (see "Rocky Knob/Rock Castle Gorge"). This trail follows a gated fire road alongside Rock Castle Creek. The term "Rock Castle" comes from the hexagonal shape of quartzite crystals found in the hollows, resembling castle towers. Surrounding the creek bottom is mixed deciduous forest, which house many nesting neotropical migrants. Listen and look for hooded, Kentucky, chestnut-sided, black-throated blue, black-throated green, and worm-eating warblers, as well as scarlet tanager, wood thrush, ovenbird, American redstart, and Acadian and great crested flycatchers. Louisiana waterthrush breed along the creek. Broad-winged hawk are known to nest within these woods, while wild turkey roam throughout this area. Creek beds are good places to spy on native brook trout (the lure for local anglers), but also a good place to hunt for salamanders. Northern dusky salamander is abundant, but several other species are likely to be present as well. Red fox, coyote, black bear, and bobcat make themselves at home in this area, but are usually elusive to visitors. Camping is available at this site only with a backcountry permit.
From Saddle Overlook, travel northeast along the Blue Ridge Parkway 3.6 miles to SR 8. Turn right (south) on SR 8 and follow 3.6 miles to Rt. 605/C.C. Camp Lane. Turn right on Rt. 605/C.C. Camp Lane for 0.7 miles to parking area and trailhead.