Elevation: 1047 ft.
Long thought of as Virginia’s gateway to the west, Goshen Pass once served as the stagecoach route from Lexington. The pass is located where the Maury River passes between Hogback and Jump mountains. The streamside vegetation and the forested slopes of these imposing mountains unite in a superb venue for wildlife watching. The roadside rest stop halfway through the pass provides easy access to the Maury River valley and all its blooming cardinal flowers and dense blazing star thickets. A boulder hodgepodge in the river forms a mosaic of shallow pools. The trees lining the banks of the Maury are excellent places to search for summer resident bird species such as downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, northern flicker, eastern phoebe, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo and American goldfinch. Look for indigo bunting in the more open areas along the river and common raven flying over the valley. Butterflies in the pass are numerous with pipevine swallowtail, great spangled fritillary, and silver-spotted skipper flitting between blooms of teasel and wild potato vine. Also be on the lookout for the state-rare Appalachian jewelwing damselfly, along the river’s edge. Crossing the swinging bridge over the Maury River provides access to the numerous hiking trails through both Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve (managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage) and the adjoining Goshen-Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Area (managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.) Spending time carefully walking these trails could yield views of the shyer denizens of the forest, such as wild turkey, black bear, pileated woodpecker and a variety of wood-warblers, not to mention the renowned white-tailed deer.
From I-64, take Exit #55/SR 39. Turn left onto SR 39 and continue for 15.3 miles. Turn right on the gravel road that leads to the parking area. This road is unmarked and is 1.8 miles west of the VDOT rest area in the middle of Goshen Pass.