Elevation: 4190 ft.
Forest Road 85 travels 3.6 miles to the summit of Flagpole Knob, wobbling along the top of the Alleghany Mountains following the border between Virginia and West Virginia. This high elevation access route brings the wildlife watcher into habitats not encountered elsewhere on the North River Loop of the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail.
If visiting in spring, search the roadside woods for warblers, which are sure to be singing in spring and early summer. Species to look for include black-throated green, worm-eating, chestnut-sided and Canada warblers. Fall presents a different wildlife viewing experience. As the fall migration gets under way, hundreds and, at times, thousands of migrating hawks can be seen along the ridge. Depending on weather conditions, migrating songbirds could also turn up in numbers along the ridge. Even outside of migration, the views from the ridge top, combined with dark-eyed juncos, cedar waxwings and red-eyed vireos, certainly make the trip worthwhile.
- To travel Forest Rd 85 towards the Flagpole Knob summit, you can hike, mountain bike, or drive using an off-road vehicle. If driving, a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance, appropriate for off-roading is necessary; the road is very steep and rough year-round. The road is not appropriate for low clearance vehicles.
- If traveling all the way to Flagpole Knob’s summit, the trip along Forest Rd 85 is 7.2 miles out-and-back, round trip.
- The access road may be impassable in the winter.
Location: Forest Rd 85A, Dayton, VA 22821
Coordinates: 38.510096, -79.183964
From the Previous Site on the North River Loop of the VBWT:
From Briery Branch Dam, travel west on Forest Road 924 for 4.5 miles to the top of the ridge, where FR 924 will intersect with Forest Rd. 85 and County Road 25. There will be three choices of roads: a hard left will take you south on FR 85 towards Reddish Knob,the middle road will take you west on West VA County Rd 25. To go to Flagpole Knob, take the right, unpaved road, which is north on Forest Rd 85. Continue 3.1 miles to a grassy opening on the right.
Use caution on this road AT ALL TIMES OF THE YEAR; during winter months it may be impassable. THIS ROAD IS VERY ROUGH AND MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR LOW CLEARANCE VEHICLES. 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is recommended.