Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (828) 298-0398
- Site Access: Free, Daily but seasonal May-Oct
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Site MSL13: Mabry Mill (Blue Ridge Parkway)
Elevation: 2913 ft. Mabry Mill is a highly photogenic site along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Images of the mill can be seen throughout the region especially those highlighting the vibrant fall colors of the forest surrounding the mill. Taking a closer look at this forest is worthwhile at any time of year. An easy and pleasant trail winds through towering sycamore and yellow poplar, taking visitors back in time through a variety of historic buildings including the mill. Interpretive signage along the trail highlights the challenges faced by early settlers encountered during their day-to-day life. While wandering through the woods keep an eye out for mourning dove, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, eastern wood-pewee, eastern phoebe, eastern kingbird, red-eyed vireo, and indigo bunting. These species, as well as a variety of warblers, vireos and tanagers, should be searched for during migration. The millpond deserves a closer look for a variety of aquatic life. Carefully checking the edge of the pond could produce a basking northern watersnake or perhaps one cutting a small wake across the still water. A search around the brushy areas where the creek flows out of the pond could produce the sparkling ebony jewelwing resting quietly just above the water. The closely mown lawns around the restaurant hold a variety of wildflowers, which attract butterflies such as pearl crescent, silver-spotted skipper and several smaller skippers. Bold gray squirrel can also be seen in this area, often approaching observers closely.
As you leave Belcher Mountain Road, return to the intersection of US 58 and Rt. 610/Cloudbreak Road. Turn right and travel north on US 58 for 4.9 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Meadows of Dan. Go right (north) on the Blue Ridge Parkway 1.5 miles to the Mill on the right. To return to the interstate, return to US 58 and travel west 23 miles to I-77 west of Hillsville. From here, continue west on US 58 and begin the Mountain Music Loop or travel north on I-77 to begin the Blue Ridge Highlands Loop.