Elevation: 1919 ft.
Hidden Valley is aptly named as the lush green valley comes as an unexpected surprise after driving through thick, plentiful forest. The valley is home to many of Virginia’s open country birds and provides miles of edge habitat for more species to inhabit. A few natural interconnecting trails run through the valley and offer up-close views of the area’s wildlife and vegetation – be on the lookout for poison ivy and snakes. Cobbler Mountain Trail includes a wooden footbridge and follows Chimney Run along the bottom of Cobbler Mountain through wetland. This trail meets with Muddy Run Trail which can be taken for 0.1 miles to reach the Hidden Valley Trail at a small wooden footbridge crossing over Muddy Run. From this point, you can follow the Jackson River Gorge Trail for 0.2 miles to a large suspension bridge over the Jackson River.
A visit to the valley is probably best in the early morning before the sun gets too hot and the animals retire to the shelter of scrub and woods. In the open areas of the valley, search for birds such as eastern kingbird and eastern bluebird as well as field and chirping sparrows. Overhead, red-tailed or broad-winged hawks may join the ubiquitous turkey vultures that are busy scavenging. The numerous thickets of scrubby brush support wildflowers, including plenty of vibrant orange jewelweed. This habitat is perfect for gray catbirds which can often be heard “mewing” from deep within cover. Butterflies such as spicebush swallowtail, common wood-nymph, and silver-spotted skipper also frequent these scrubby areas.
The camping area next to Hidden Valley is slightly more wooded and therefore invites exploration of a different mix of birds. In this area, search for small flocks of Carolina chickadee and tufted titmouse or less common species such as white-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo, worm-eating and black-and-white warblers, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Several of the structures around the campground support nesting eastern phoebes – check especially near the restrooms. The trees around the edge of the campground are also worth a closer look since they often provide perches for flycatching cedar waxwings.
Physical Address: 1531 Hidden Valley Rd, Warm Springs, VA 24484
From I-581/US 220 in Roanoke, continue north. Take exit 1N and merge onto I-81 N/US 220 N toward Lexington. After 6.8 miles, take exit 150B for US 11 N/US 220 N toward Troutville/Fincastle. Keep right and follow signs for US 220 N/Fincastle. In 0.3 miles, turn right onto US 220 N and continue for 34.3 miles. Keep right at the fork and follow signs for US 60/US 220 N/I-64/Covington/Lexington to merge onto Us 220 S/US 60 BUS E. After 0.6 miles, turn right onto I-64 E/US 60 E. In 1.5 miles, take exit 29 for SR 42 N toward SR 269 E. Turn left onto SR 42 N and continue for 16.5 miles. Then, turn left onto SR 39 W and continue for 13.0 miles. Turn left onto US 220 S and then right onto SR 39 W. In 3.2 miles, turn right (northeast) onto McGuffin Rd (SR 621). After 1.0 mile, turn left onto Hidden Valley Rd and continue for 1.5 miles until the entrance appears to the left.
From I-64 in Charlottesville/Waynesboro, continue west. Take the I-81 S exit toward I-64 W/Lexington/Roanoke and merge onto 1-64 W/I-81 S. In 0.6 miles, take exit 220 for SR 262 toward US 11. Continue on SR 262 N for 4.2 miles. Then, take the SR 254/Parkersburg Pike exit and turn left onto SR 254 W. In 7.0 miles, continue onto SR 42 S. After 29.4 miles, continue onto SR 39 W for an additional 13.0 miles. Then, turn left onto US 220 S and continue for 0.2 miles. Turn right onto SR 39 W and continue for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto McGuffin Rd (SR 621) followed by a left (north) in 1.0 mile onto Hidden Valley Rd. In 1.5 miles, the entrance will appear to the left.
From the previous site on the Headwaters of the James Loop of the VBWT:
From the Ingalls Overlook Trail in Warm Springs Mountain Preserve, turn right and continue on SR 39 W (Mountain Valley Rd). In 1.6 miles, turn left (southwest) onto US 220 and continue for 0.2 miles. Turn right onto SR 39 W and continue for 3.2 miles. Then, turn right (northeast) onto McGuffin Rd (SR 621). After 1.0 mile, turn left (north) onto Hidden Valley Road. The entrance is to the left (west) in 1.5 miles.
- Site Contact: Warm Springs District Ranger (540) 839-2521
- Access: Free, Daily
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