The Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail (VBWT) is a guide to Virginia’s best places to see native birds and animals. This trail network contains over 600 designated viewing sites across the Commonwealth, each with varied facilities to enjoy the outdoors; from walking, biking, or paddling trails, to scenic overlooks, or places to camp. As you explore the VBWT, you will experience Virginia’s wealth of natural diversity, ranging from brown pelicans and bottlenose dolphins along our Eastern Shore to bald eagles and black bear in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With 400 species of birds and 2,500 species of wildlife, you’ll soon see why Virginia is a premier destination for birding and wildlife viewing.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
The Coastal Area features untouched barrier islands, cypress swamps, great stands of pine forest, and bayside salt marshes. This area features 18 loops.
This area extends from the Great Falls Loop just west of the nation's capital to the South Chesapeake Loop. Highlights include:
The Eastern Shore Loop includes The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, a premier birding and wildlife site. The 1200-acre refuge provides viewing access to significant expanses of salt marsh, grasslands, loblolly pine forests, bayberry thickets, barrier islands, and freshwater and brackish ponds. The refuge has a bird list that comes close to 300 species.
The Lower Peninsula Loop includes the Virginia Living Museum. It is home to 200 different species of native wildlife. Visitors can get up close to photograph and view wildlife in the wild or in the museum’s exhibits. See the bald eagle, bobcat, cedar waxwing, eastern screech owl, hooded merganser, otter, and beaver, to name a few. The Museum's natural habitat attracts warblers, woodland birds, waterfowl, osprey, and even more species according to the season.
Scenic View of the Roanoke Valley from Mill Mountain Overlook
The Mountain Phase features expansive vistas, endless forest trails, large inland reservoirs and a taste of the western piedmont. This area contains 34 loops. Highlights include:
In the Lower New River Loop, the New River Trail State Park is a 52.5-mile long park that follows the New River from Pulaski to Galax. In this area you can see many tree and bird species: yellow poplar and sassafras, trailside herbage including lesser stitchwort, woodland sunflower, everlasting pea and wild potato vine. Bird species include mourning dove, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, northern flicker, eastern phoebe, blue-gray gnatcatcher, eastern bluebird, American robin and gray catbird.
Along the Star City Loop, Mill Mountain Park and Star Trail rises 800 feet above the City of Roanoke. Nature enthusiasts and wildlife-watchers would probably find most interest in hiking the Star Trail. This 1.7-mile trail traverses from the Roanoke River to Roanoke’s highest point- the summit of Mill Mountain. See spring and fall migratory warblers and nesting migrants, such as bay-breasted Blackburnian prairie warblers, wood thrush, ovenbird, black-and-white warbler, white-eyed and red-eyed vireos, and indigo bunting.
Lake Anna State Park
The Piedmont area features expansive grasslands, large forested tracts, pineland savannas, several large reservoirs and an abundance of rich history and culture. The Piedmont Area has 13 loops. Highlights include:
Located in the Green Springs Loop is Lake Anna State Park, here you can see bald eagles cruising the banks and hunting along inaccessible reaches of the lake. In the winter months waterfowl can be seen offshore with flocks of ring-necked duck, redhead and greater and lesser scaups diving; and the occasional flock of tundra swans floats bye.
During migration, flocks of warblers can be found along with the titmice and chickadees. Also watch for black-throated green, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, palm, prairie and pine warblers.
Bear Creek Lake State Park located in the Heart of Piedmont Loop has an extensive network of trails providing numerous opportunities to explore nature and watch wildlife. The lake itself is a magnet for wildlife with dozens of eastern painted turtles.
In winter an assortment of ducks can be found, in addition to the more regular wood ducks that nest nearby, during migration look for large flocks of American robins and northern cardinals. Other species to look for in the area include hairy woodpeckers and white-breasted nuthatches.
Last Updated: 1/25/2021