DESCRIPTION: Rolling rural pasturelands that lie within the city limits of Staunton, on the northeast side. The northwest stretch, closer to town, consists of a lush wetland vale, while the central stretch is more elevated, offering spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley. Noted for Baltimore orioles, Orchard orioles, Yellow warblers, Willow flycatchers, and Grasshopper sparrows in the summer, as well as Northern harriers, Short-eared owls, Canada geese, coots, and various ducks in the winter. The wetland habitat has been restored thanks to the riparian buffer program of the Valley Conservation Council.
DIRECTIONS: From I-81, take Exit 225 and head WEST on Route 262, which was formerly Route 275. The first left turn is Bell's Lane, which goes for about two miles, terminating on Commerce Road (the Route 11 bypass) just north of the VDOT complex. Much of Bell's Lane is quite narrow, requiring great caution when a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. There are also a number of joggers and bicyclists when the weather is nice. Space for parking is limited to a few wide gravel or grass shoulders.
About a mile to the northeast is a stretch of Lewis Creek with several sycamore trees in which both kinds of orioles, kingbirds, and other songbirds are known to nest. Just take Route 262 (former 275) EAST from Bell's Lane, go past the I-81 exit, and turn left on the lane just after the bridge.
DESCRIPTION: Open fields and woodlands consisting of various types of vegetation, with a network of trails named after YuLee Larner, co-founder of the Augusta Bird Club. Quite variable in terms of the birds that are present. Many woodpeckers, Pewees, Great crested flycatchers, and even Yellow-billed cuckoos are often present. During migration season, occasional large clusters of warblers and vireos show up.
DIRECTIONS: In Staunton: Follow West Beverly Street and turn left on to Montgomery Avenue (across from the Thornrose Cemetery) to the park.
DESCRIPTION: Large pond in the middle of Gypsy Hill Park. Canada geese, Mallards, various swallows are usually present, in the appropriate season. In the nearby wooded areas of the park, especially near the golf course, interesting songbirds can sometimes be found.
DIRECTIONS: Take West Beverly St. to Thornrose Ave. Follow and turn into Gypsy Hill Park at stone archway and follow to Lake Tams.
DESCRIPTION: The bigger of the two hills you see when entering Staunton from the east or south. The prevalence of birds here is quite variable; woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice are common throughout the year. During the spring and fall, there are occasional big fallouts of warblers and other neotropical migrants.
DIRECTIONS: From downtown Staunton, Take Rt. 11 South (Greenville Ave.) and turn left on Betsy Bell Road (by Burger King), proceeding uphill to the park. The street becomes narrow at the end, and parking is very limited, on rough gravel. Four-wheel drive vehicles can ascend to a small picnic area near the summit, with extreme caution.
DESCRIPTION: Semi-open habitat in a flat river basin, suitable for a variety of songbirds, including Yellow warblers, Red-wing blackbirds, Killdeers, Bluebirds, Common yellowthroats, and Cedar waxwings.
DIRECTIONS: From US Highway 250 on the east side of Staunton, go EAST past the I-81 overpass and turn LEFT (north) at Route 792, where all the restaurants and motels are. Proceed uphill for about a half mile, then turn RIGHT on Route 794, which is Sanger's Lane. After another mile you will enter a flat valley where the Staunton water treatment plant is found. Further ahead there is a bridge across Christians Creek, after which the road is narrow and unpaved. After two miles or so it intersects with Route 642, which is Barren Ridge Road. Bear RIGHT (south) and go one mile until you reach Route 250 in Fishersville.
DESCRIPTION: A mixture of pastures, crop fields, and wetlands, with a wide variety of songbirds and shorebirds.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton, take West Beverly Street out of town, continuing along Rt. 254 for about three miles.
DESCRIPTION: A nicely developed nature observation area, with a boardwalk through a wetland area, upland trails, and a rest room. Phoebes, Green herons, Kingfishers, Yellowthroats, and Red-shouldered hawks are found here.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton, either follow Rt. 250 WEST to Churchville, and turn left onto Rt. 42 SOUTH to Buffalo Gap; or else take West Beverly Street out of town, continuing along Rt. 254 until it reaches Buffalo Gap. Then, either turn RIGHT on Rt. 688 or continue for five miles on Rt. 42. There is a large parking area.
DESCRIPTION: Heavily wooded mountain ravine through hemlock forests, with a trail leading up toward Crawford Knob, which is part of North Mountain. Various warblers, flycatchers, and vireos are found here.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton take Rt. 250 West about 15 miles. Soon after the road passes the (gentle) crest, there is a brown sign on the left and a small area to park on the right.
DESCRIPTION: A fishing reservoir in the foothills circled by a trail. Scarlet tanagers, woodpeckers, and phoebes are seen here.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton take Rt. 250 West about 15 miles, and turn RIGHT on Rt. 715, just before the town of West Augusta. Go about a half mile, and turn LEFT on a rugged gravel road, which leads to the parking / camping area.
DESCRIPTION: Reservoirs in rugged back country mountains with plenty of trails. Take Route 731 from Natural Chimneys to Route 730 toward Stokesville. This road leads to FS Road 95. Alternatively, take US Highway 250 WEST to Route 715 at the Calfpasture River crossing, just before the town of West Augusta. Route 715 leads to FS Roads 96, 95B, 95, and 85.
DIRECTIONS: Route 42 follows the Little Calfpasture River in southwestern Augusta County, and Calfpasture River flows along scenic Route 600 thrugh an area known as Marble Valley.
DESCRIPTION: A high mountain pass with spectacular views west toward Highland County. There is a parking area, historical Civil War markers, and a rest room. The trail leading north connects with Ramsey's Draft trails.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton take Rt. 250 West about 22 miles, climbing Shenandoah Mountain along some hairpin curves just before you arrive at the summit.
DESCRIPTION: River runs through a rugged, boulder-strewn mountain valley. Moderate hikes up Shenandoah Mountain, or along the trail that parallels the stream, crossing back and forth several times. (Caution: occasional rattlesnakes on the rocks.) Redstarts, Blackburnian warblers, Black-throated green warblers, Worm-eating warblers, Parulas, Louisiana waterthrushes, and vireos are all common during breeding season. Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed at higher elevations. Web site
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton, take Rt. 250 West about 20 miles to the Ramsey's Draft Picnic Area.
DESCRIPTION: Woods and open fields. Entry fee required for most of the year.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton take Rt. 250 West to Churchville; turn onto Rt. 42 North to Rt. 731. Take Rt. 731 West 2.5 miles to the park. Web site
DESCRIPTION: Mountain peak. At the upper elevations are found several species that normally breed in northern latitudes, such as Juncos, Yellow-rumped warblers, Canada warblers, and Rose-breasted grosbeaks.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton, either follow Rt. 250 WEST to Churchville, and turn left onto Rt. 42 SOUTH to Buffalo Gap; or else take West Beverly Street out of town, continuing along Rt. 254 until it reaches Buffalo Gap. Either turn RIGHT on Rt. 688 or continue for six miles on Rt. 42 and turn RIGHT on Forest Service Rd. 82. Forest Service Map recommended. Just before Rt. 42 crests and turns downhill, there are two gravel turnoffs with Forest Service gates, with limited parking space for those who want to hike directly to the top of Elliott Knob along the very rugged Forest Service Rd. 1448. For those with suitable four-wheel drive vehicles, permission to open those gates may be granted. Web site
DESCRIPTION: Lake, marsh and fields
DIRECTIONS: From I 81 take Exit 220 to Rt. 262 S and follow to Rt. 252. Take Rt. 252 S to Rt. 693 (Cedar Green Rd.). Go about 2 miles to Rt. 703 (Hebron Church Rd.). Go about 2 miles and turn left onto Rt. 708. Follow Boy Scout signs to Camp Shenandoah.
DESCRIPTION: Country road parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the route consists of mature oak woodlands in which Scarlet tanagers, Red-eyed vireos, and various warblers are found during breeding season. There is one stretch of semi-open land full of Mountain laurel bushes and pine trees; Pine warblers are common there. Across from the golf course is a moist brushy area in which Yellow-breasted chats are sometimes seen. Ravens regularly nest atop the communications tower located a mile or so south of the golf course.
DIRECTIONS: From Afton Mountain / Rockfish Gap on Interstate 64, take exit 99. Turn onto Rt. 250 East and follow signs toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn right onto Rt. 610 just before the entrance to the parkway. The road is to narrow with no roadside parking for the first mile or two. Further south, past the golf course, there are occasional wide shoulders for parking.
DESCRIPTION: A historic farm where Cyrus McCormick invented and developed farm machinery, now used as an agricultural research station by Virginia Tech. Baltimore orioles regularly nest in the willow trees next to the old mill, and a variety of other songbirds, shorebirds, and raptors can be seen throughout the year.
DIRECTIONS: From Staunton, head SOUTH on I-81/I-64 for about 15 miles, then take exit 205 and head EAST for one half mile on Rt. 606. Just after the grove of trees, turn LEFT into McCormick's Mill. Alternative scenic route: From Staunton, head SOUTH on Route 11 (Greenville Ave.), passing under I-81/I-64, passing through the town of Greenville. Once you reach Steele's Tavern, turn RIGHT on Rt. 606 and go about a half mile.
DIRECTIONS: From Route 608 in Stuarts Draft, take Route 639 NORTH for about one mile. Turn right and continue for about one-half mile to the ponds.
DESCRIPTION: Allen Larner frequents this area during the winter months, and often finds Horned larks, American pipits, and sometimes even Rusty blackbirds.
DIRECTIONS: From I-64 at the Fishersville exit, take Rt. 608 SOUTH for almost two miles. Just after the bend, turn RIGHT on Guthrie Road, which is gravel. It passes several feedlots and cornfields, and eventually intersects with Rt. 340.
DESCRIPTION: Scenic, densely wooded mountain terrain. Several trails circle the two lakes, and some connect with the trails atop the Blue Ridge.
DIRECTIONS: From I-64 at Waynesboro, take Exit 96 and head SOUTH on Route 624 until you reach the town of Sherando. Then turn LEFT onto Route 664, and continue three miles SOUTH. The park (entrance fee required) is reached by FS Road 81.
DESCRIPTION: There are a variety of backcountry roads and trails along the northeastern slope of Big Levels, an extension of the Blue Ridge south of Stuarts Draft. Caution: It is a major hunting area, so avoid it during hunting season.
DIRECTIONS: From Route FS Road 42 near Sherando, take Route 664 and head WEST. (???) Alternatively, take Route 608 in Stuarts Draft and head SOUTH, past the camp ground, continuing uphill along an unmarked gravel road until you reach a fork intersection. Turn LEFT (east) and go for a half mile or so until you reach a primitive camping / parking area. That is the trailhead to reach the main reservoir.
DIRECTIONS: From West Main Street in Waynesboro, turn right onto Magnolia Avenue (East of the intersection of Broad and West Main), and proceed three blocks to the park.
DESCRIPTION: Easy walks through fields, small wooded areas and along the creek. Public facilities available. Baltimore orioles and Bluebirds nest here, and a variety of sparrows are found as well.
DIRECTIONS: From Main Street in downtown Waynesboro, turn onto Wayne Avenue. Follow Wayne Avenue over the South River and bear right onto Lyndhurst Road. Follow Lyndhurst Road about 2 miles, crossing over Rt. 64, and the park will be on your right. Enter through the gate in the middle of two large pastures.
DESCRIPTION: Spring brings some of the first migrants. One Goshawk record..
DIRECTIONS: From Grottoes on Route 340, turn east onto Route 659; you will come to a barred gravel road that parallels Madison Run. Moderate hike up this road and into the Shenandoah National Park.
DESCRIPTION: A big mud puddle has served as a stopover point for an amazing variety of shorebirds over the years, including several rare species. Killdeers and swallows are often abundant. Named after Leonard Tueber, a long-time bird enthusiast in our area.
DIRECTIONS: Head NORTH on I-81, take Exit 235 and turn right, heading EAST on Rt. 256 into Weyer's Cave. At the main intersection, turn LEFT (north) on Route 276 for about 3.5 miles, crossing the North River. When you reach an area that is very flat with some hills visible off to your left you are getting close. Turn LEFT on Faught's Road; the pond is on the left. Park along the side of the road.
DESCRIPTION: It's nothing more than an oversized mud puddle at the edge of a corn field, but some remarkable birds have been seen there, including a Glossy ibis and a Sora in August 2006.
DIRECTIONS: Follow the same directions as for Leonard's Pond (above), but continue for about four more miles NORTH on Route 276. Then turn RIGHT (southeast) on Route 659, Port Republic Road, for about four miles. Just before you get to the Shenandoah River bridge, turn LEFT (north) on Lawyer Road. Proceed for about three miles, and then turn RIGHT (east) on Lynnwood Road. You will quickly see the pond on your right.
DESCRIPTION: Silver Lake does not freeze completely and is a haven for wintering waterfowl.
DIRECTIONS: From Harrisonburg take Route 42 South and turn right at the first traffic light as you enter the town of Dayton. Continue 0.1 mile to a Stop sign. Turn right (north) on Silver Lake Road (Route 701). You will see the mill and the lake on your left in about 0.1 mile. There are signs on Route 42 directing you to the Silver Lake Mill.
DESCRIPTION: Regulars include Mallards, Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and Canada Geese. A stopping place for diving ducks during the late winter and early spring.
DIRECTIONS: From Harrisonburg take Route 33 East. About 1 mile east of the city limits turn right (southwest) unto Massanetta Springs Road (Route 687). About 1 mile from Route 33 you will find Lake Campbell on the right side of the road, a small lake on the Massanetta Springs Conference Center grounds.
DESCRIPTION: Good spot for winter ducks and winter residents (pine forest on the north side of the lake). Gulls and Terns are found in spring migration.
DIRECTIONS: About 1 mile east of the city limits turn right (southwest) unto Massanetta Springs Road (Route 687). Continue about 1 mile southwest on Massanetta Springs Road from Lake Campbell (above) to Lake Shenandoah a 37-acre lake.
Note: This lake is managed by the VDGIF and you are welcome to walk around the north side of the lake but please respect the private property notices on the south side..
DESCRIPTION: Good spot for spring migrants and breeding species. Bald Eagles are seen fairly regularly.
DIRECTIONS: From Harrisonburg take Route 33 West to the small town of Rawley Springs about 10-11 miles west of Harrisonburg. Continue west on Route 33 for about another 8 miles. Turn south on a gravel access road about halfway up Shenandoah Mountain to get to this lake.
DIRECTIONS: All of these locations are along the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain. From I-81 take Exit 245, Bridgewater, and turn left onto Route 257. Route 257 will pass through Mt. Crawford and into downtown Bridgewater. At the traffic light in downtown Bridgewater, turn right (northeast) which is Main Street, a continuation of Route 257, and Route 42 North. Continue on Route 42/257 to the town of Dayton. In Dayton turn left (west) at the first traffic light marked as Route 257 about 10 miles to Briery Branch. In Briery Branch turn right onto Briery Branch Road, Route 924, and continue on this road to the top of the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain.
At this point, Briery Branch Gap, the paved road to the left leads to Reddish Knob and the gravel Forest Service road to the right leads north along the ridge to Bother Knob, Flagpole Knob, Slate Spring, and Block and Dunkel Hollows. The center road leads down the west side of Shenandoah Mountain into Sugar Grove, WV. Following the paved road to the left will bring you an excellent lookout (former site of a fire tower) on Reddish Knob.
DESCRIPTION: Saw-whet Owl banding site during November. To make arrangements, contact Dr. Clair Mellinger at the Eastern Mennonite University Biology Department in Harrisonburg at (540) 432-4409, or else send e-mail.
DIRECTIONS: From Rt. 81 take Exit 257, Broadway/Mauzy. Follow Route 259 West through Broadway. About 15 miles west of Broadway, on the right hand side of the road, you will see a large sign for Highland Retreat Camp. A smaller "street sign" will say Upper Highland Drive. DO NOT TURN HERE. Continue about 0.4 miles further and you will see a smaller sign for Highland Retreat Camp with a "street sign" saying Lower Highland
Drive. Turn right into the camp (gravel) driveway here. Bear left where the driveway splits into a Y and you will see the Tabernacle building ahead of you (not the building on the right side of the driveway). There should be some lights on around the building and look for a white Dodge pick-up truck parked on the right side of the building. Banding is done in a small room in the tabernacle building; there should be a light. If banders are not in the room, please wait. Do not try to find the nets..
DIRECTIONS: Located about 13 miles west of Monterey off 250. Go through Monterey, through Hightown on 250 west. Go about 6 more miles and go left on 601 . Follow the dirt road on the top of the ridge, through 2 cattle gates and then past a big field on your left. Take a left through the gate (a sign for us is on the gate, go down the driveway a bit. (Thanks to Brenda Tekin.)
Patti Patti Reum and Tom Brody
Bear Mountain Farm and Wilderness Retreat
2599 Bear Mountain Rd.
Monterey, VA. 24465
DESCRIPTION: "A beautiful nature trail complete with a waterfall and creek."
DIRECTIONS: Take I-81 south to exit 205 (Raphine/Steels Tavern) and then go west on route 606 for about 4 miles to Wades Mill.
Compiled by Peter Van Acker and Andrew Clem, based in part on Birds of Augusta County, edited by YuLee Larner. Technical assistance by Brian Arthur.
[Back to top]