The Highland Wildlife Management Area is located in a county that is generally regarded as having the highest average elevation of any county east of the Mississippi River. The management area offers challenging and rewarding hunting for forest game, fishing for trout through the magnificent Bullpasture Gorge and an array of trails for hikers.
Highland Wildlife Management Area’s three separate tracts of land—Jack Mountain, Bullpasture Mountain and Little Doe Hill—comprise a total of 14,283 acres. Timber types are primarily upland hardwood forest of oak/hickory and mixed oak stands. A major exception to the area’s almost continuous forest habitat is an 80-acre opening of blue grass sod on the Jack Mountain tract that was formerly used as summer pasture. Small wildlife clearings and seeded logging roads provide additional herbaceous cover. Topography varies from gently sloping to steep. Elevations range from 1,800 to 4,390 feet, with most of the ridge tops in the 2,500 to 3,200 foot range. Management activities are concentrated in areas accessible by roads and habitat diversity is provided through small timber sales to create early successional habitat or enhance hard mast production. Plantings of trees and shrubs that produce soft mast (apple, dogwood, cherry, etc.) enhance available natural foods.
The Highland Wildlife Management Area offers good hunting opportunities for a variety of wildlife with deer, bear and turkeys being the most abundant species. Grouse, squirrels and rabbits are also found in fair numbers. Of the three tracts that make up the management area, Bullpasture Mountain is best known for its deer and turkey hunting. More rugged Jack Mountain is recognized for hunting these species as well as bear.
The Bullpasture River flows through a portion of the management area, a big stream that will delight almost any angler. The Department’s trout stocking program keeps it supplied with catchable-sized fish. Nearby, there is public access to the Cowpasture River over U.S. Forest Service lands, south of Williamsville.
The management area is excellent for viewing many wildlife species as well as a variety of plants. The Department’s Coursey Springs fish hatchery station is just south of Williamsville. Highland County’s Annual Maple Syrup Festival occurs in mid-March at Monterey. Nearby are the U. S. Forest Service’s Deerfield and Warm Springs Ranger Districts.
Twenty miles of road, plus miles of seeded roads and foot trails, are provided through various parts of the management area for access. There is a cable suspension foot bridge across the Bullpasture River at Bullpasture Gorge just north of Williamsville.
The management area is located in Highland County, approximately 30 miles west of Staunton. From Staunton, access to each of the area’s tracts is from U. S. Route 250 near McDowell; via Route 678 to the Bullpasture Mountain Tract and Bullpasture Gorge; Route 615 to the Jack Mountain Tract; and U. S. 250, west of McDowell, to the Little Doe Hill Tract. Williamsville is 12 miles north of Route 39 via Route 678. Consult the map for greater detail.
Images by: Lynda Richardson - DGIF