Hawks Nest State Park
Hawks Nest, with its commanding views of the New River Gorge, is a great place to spy red-tailed hawks during the summer. On the lake and river, visitors might see common loons during the spring and fall migration. The water also is feeding ground for blue herons and belted kingfishers. In the summer look for eastern bluebirds, Baltimore orioles and scarlet tanagers. Warm weather and sunny days might also bring out some of the park’s reptiles, including black rat snakes, northern fence lizards, and five-lined and broadhead skinks.
Directions: From the junction of U.S. 19 and U.S. 60, travel west on U.S. 60 for 7.7 miles to the park entrance. The park is on the south side of U.S. 60. Closest town: Ansted
New River Gorge
This spectacular scenic area is home to white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, beavers, opossums, raccoons, river otters, red and gray foxes and cottontails. In the woodlands during the day, search for wild turkeys and ruffed grouse, and at night, listen for owls – barred, great horned and eastern screech. A population of river cooters – large turtles – inhabits the New River, as do several species of fishes, including smallmouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, logperch, common carp, muskellunge, whitetail shiners, channel catfish, freshwater sponges and mussels.
Directions: The Canyon Rim Visitor Center is located immediately east of where U.S. 19 crosses the New River Gorge, just north of Fayetteville. Closest town: Fayetteville
Little Beaver State Park
Summer months are best for wildlife viewing at Little Beaver State Park and its 18-acre lake. White-tailed deer are common throughout the park. Hike the Railroad Grade Trail to see turkeys, and listen for the many resident bird species. Mallards and Canada geese are prevalent in the lake area. The evening is a good time to look for black bears, opossums, raccoons, minks, beavers and bobcats.
Directions: East of Beckley, take Exit 129A off I-64. Travel south for two miles and turn left at the sign to enter the park. Closest town: Beckley
Three Rivers Avian Center
This privately owned sanctuary above the New River Gorge National River provides veterinary and rehabilitative care to injured, displaced and orphaned birds of prey, as well as herons. The center offers public tours and keeps for educational purposes several species of raptors, including a great horned owl, barn owl, common screech owl, barred owl, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk and broad-winged hawk.
Directions: From I-64, take the Sandstone Exit 139. Travel south on W.Va. 20 toward Hinton for 5.8 miles. Turn left onto Brooks Mountain Road and follow the signs for 2.7 miles to Three Rivers Avian Center. (Note that Brooks Mountain Road is steep and unpaved.) Closest town: Hinton
Meadow River Wildlife Management Area
The wetlands along Meadow River provide some of the best wildlife viewing. In spring and summer, look for wood ducks. During spring and fall migration, the area provides a rest stop to many species of waterfowl, including mallards and blue- and green-winged teals. During spring, the wetlands sing with the chorus of spring peepers, bullfrogs, pickerel frogs and green frogs. Visitors might also spot a great blue heron in the shallows waiting for a fish or frog. River otters feed during morning and evening. This is a natural area with no facilities and a public hunting area.
Directions: Take Sam Black Church Exit 156 off I-64 and travel west on U.S. 60 for five miles. Turn left onto County Route 60-18 (Tommy Hall Road) and proceed to the wildlife management area on the left. Park along Tommy Hall Road for access to the area. The road is 1.3 miles long and dead-ends into private property. Closest town: Rupert
Cold Knob Scenic Area
Cold Knob (elevation 4,200 feet) is located on the Allegheny Front, an important migration corridor for many birds of prey. In September and October, patient bird watchers might see ospreys, bald eagles, golden eagles, northern harriers and northern goshawks as they migrate to southern wintering grounds. Watch for cold fronts, which often “push” migrating birds south in the fall, and plan your trip accordingly. Year-round the area is home to Cooper’s hawks, American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and red-shouldered hawks. In addition, black bears and white-tailed deer are present here. This is a natural area with no facilities and parts of it are open to hunting.
Directions: At Lewisburg, take Exit 169 off I-64 onto U.S. 219. Travel north for 8.7 miles to Frankford. Turn left onto County Route 17 (Williamsburg Road) and proceed west for 8.4 miles to Williamsburg. Turn right onto C.R. 9 and travel north for 3.2 miles, then make a left onto C.R. 10 (Trout Road) and travel north for 5.9 miles. At the sign for the scenic area, turn right; the parking area is 0.1 mile past the sign. Closest town: Frankford
As the largest lake in the Monongahela National Forest, Lake Sherwood’s 165-acre impoundment serves as habitat for a diversity of species, including white-tailed deer, beaver and waterfowl, ruffed grouse and wild turkeys. Great blue herons are present during cooler months, and green herons summer here. The area is home to three species of owl: barred, eastern screech and great horned. Look for owl pellets (undigested remains of prey in coughed-up pellet form) under pine trees. Four species of squirrels – gray, red, fox and the nocturnal southern flying – are present here.
Directions: At the intersection of W.Va. 92 and W.Va. 14 in Neola, travel east on W.Va. 14 (Lake Sherwood Road) for 11 miles to the recreation area. Closest town: Neola
Greenbrier State Forest
This 5,100-acre forest, easily accessible from I-64, makes an ideal setting for wildlife viewing day trips. Nestor’s Field Forest Management Road is a good place to see white-tailed deer in morning and early evening. Deer, wild turkeys and many other species of birds feed in the field at the forest’s edge. On summer nights, listen for the whip-poor-will, calling its name over and over. Note: Some areas are open to hunting. Some areas are open to hunting.
Directions: From I-64, take Exit 175 and travel south on County Route 60-14. Follow the signs to Greenbrier State Forest, about one mile from the interstate. As you enter the forest, stop for information at the forest office on the left. The picnic area is also on the left, less than two miles from the entrance. Closest town: White Sulphur Springs
Hanging Rock Raptor Migration Observatory
A reconstructed fire tower serves as an observation platform high atop Peters Mountain. Prevailing westerly winds create a long glide path for birds of prey and an ideal place to view them. As a bonus, hawk watchers are treated to sweeping, 360-degree views of the Ridge and Valley Province to the south and the Allegheny Plateau to the north. Hike one mile to the observatory between late August and late October to observe numerous migrating species: broad-winged, Cooper’s, sharp-shinned, red-shouldered and rough-legged hawks; and American kestrels, bald eagles, golden eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. This is a natural area with no facilities.
Directions: At Rock Camp, turn off U.S. 219 onto County Route 29 (Zenith Road) and travel 10.4 miles to C.R. 15 (Waiteville Road). Proceed south for 1.7 miles to the top of the mountain; park on the right. Hike the Allegheny Trail west along the ridgeline for 0.8 mile to the junction with the blue-blazed trail on the left that leads to the observation platform in 0.1 mile. Closest town: Waiteville
Sugar Camp Farm and Symms Gap Meadow
Adjacent to the Appalachian Trail, the hike from Sugar Camp Farm to Symms Gap Meadow provides year-round viewing opportunities for white-tailed deer. Look for wild turkeys from April to June. Will’s Field is an excellent place to view migrating hawks in September and October, and black bears also have been spotted in the field. Both Sugar Camp and Will’s Field are good places to see butterflies. Look for male Diana butterflies (bright orange) in late June and July, and for females (black and blue with white spots) in July and August. These are natural areas with no facilities.
Directions: At the intersection of U.S. 460 and U.S. 219 in Rich Creek, Va., travel north on U.S.219 to Peterstown, W.Va. Continue north through Peterstown for six miles to County Route 219-21 (Painter Run Road). Turn right onto Painter Run Road and follow it for 1.8 miles to the fenced parking spot on the right. Closest town: Peterstown
Bluestone Lake Wildlife Management Area
Miles of shoreline and 2,000 acres of open water attract a variety of waterfowl. Mallards and Canada geese are present year-round. From December to April, look for common goldeneyes, buffleheads and hooded mergansers in the spillway below the dam. In March and April, search for ring-necked ducks and lesser scaups above Bluestone Dam, and in summer look for wood ducks along islands in the river. Search around the lake and below Hinton for bald eagles, which are more common in winter. Great blue herons are year-round residents, and green herons can be viewed during the summer. Some areas are open to hunting.
Directions: From I-64, take Sandstone Exit 139. Travel south on W.Va. 20 for 16 miles. Closest town: Hinton
Tate Lohr Hatchery
This 150-acre rearing station near Princeton is where trout are raised from fingerlings to stocking size in four outdoor pools. About 20,000 rainbow and golden rainbow trout are reared here annually. Tours are available.
Directions: From Princeton, travel east on U.S 460 for nine miles. Take the Oakvale exit and go west on W.Va. 112 for 0.1 mile. Bear left on County Route 460-6 (Kellysville Road). After another 0.1 mile, turn right (there is no sign and the road resembles a pullout). Follow this gravel road for 3.8 miles to the hatchery, on the left. Closest town: Princeton
Pipestem State Park
Pipestem offers wildlife viewers more than 17 miles of trails through and near four major habitats of the park: open water, wetland, old field and hardwood forest. A nature center offers interpretive programs and educational materials. Approximately 160 species of birds have been recorded here, and the area has one of the highest densities of wild turkeys in the state. Waterfowl are present from March to November on Long Branch Lake. The lookout tower is good for spotting turkey vultures, bald eagles and golden eagles. The park also is home to 30 species of warblers, as well as white-tailed deer, bats, squirrels, red and gray foxes, minks, bobcats, woodchucks and river otters. In the summer, milkweeds attract monarch butterflies. After dark, near Mountain Creek Lodge, look for dobsonflies, luna moths, polyphemous moths and regal moths.
Directions: Take Athens Exit 14 off I-77 and travel east on County Route 7 to W.Va. 20. Go north for 10 miles to the park entrance on the left. Closest town: Pipestem
Twin Falls Resort State Park
Wildlife viewing opportunities abound in this 3,776-acre park. Look for white-tailed deer along the forest’s edge and at the golf course. In the spring and summer, the area is a breeding ground for many species of neotropical migrant songbirds. The park also is home to red-tailed hawks and three species of owls: eastern screech, great horned and barred. Wild turkeys are common in late summer and fall. Wildlife watchers might also catch a glimpse of a gray fox or black bear.
Directions: Take Exit 42 off I-64/77 in Beckley and travel south on W.Va. 16, following signs to the park. Travel on W.Va. 16 for 3.7 miles, then take W.Va. 54 south for 13.5 miles to Maben. Take W.Va. 97 west from Maben for 5.3 miles to a T, turn left, and proceed for 0.6 mile to the park entrance. Closest town: Maben
Berwind Lake Wildlife Management Area
Twenty-acre Berwind Lake and its surrounding hardwood forest is one of the best places to see warblers and other neotropical migrants, especially during the spring. The more common species are rose-breasted grosbeaks, kinglets, white-eyed vireos, solitary vireos and yellow-breasted chats. The area also is home to white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, beavers, muskrats, black bears, fox and gray squirrels, red-spotted newts, gray tree frogs and American toads. Scan the shoreline for spotted sandpipers, water snakes and box turtles. In the spring, shallow water serves as breeding ground for spring peepers and chorus frogs. Evenings bring out barred, great horned and screech owls, as well as gray foxes. Woodpeckers include pileated, flicker, downy, hairy and red-bellied and yellow-bellied sapsucker. Winter birds include evening grosbeaks, purple finches, pine siskins and juncos. In winter, the lake is a resting spot for waterfowl such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, scaups, pied-billed grebes, blue-winged teals, hooded mergansers and ruddy ducks. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Welch, take W.Va. 16 south for 12 miles. At War, turn right onto County Route 12-4 and follow it to the wildlife management area. Closest town: War
Panther State Forest
This remote forest in southern West Virginia offers opportunities for viewing the spring migration of warblers and other neotropical migrants. Many species nest here, including white-eyed vireos, yellow-breasted chats, red-eyed vireos, northern parula warbers, yellow warblers, hooded warblers, ovenbirds and common yellowthroats. Reptiles common to the area include five-lined skinks, northern fence lizards, common snapping turtles and eastern box turtles. Visitors might also find white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and ruffed grouse. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From W.Va. 52, one mile north of Iager, turn at the forest sign to Panther. At the Panther post office, turn left at the sign and follow the road 3.5 miles to the forest entrance. Closest town: Panther
R.D. Bailey Lake Wildlife Management Area
The oak-hickory forest around the 630-acre R.D. Bailey Lake provides habitat for warblers and other neotropical migrants in the spring. Other breeding birds in the area include eastern kingbirds, cardinals, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, eastern phoebes, eastern wood-peewees, Acadian flycatchers, song sparrows, Carolina wrens, bluejays, brown creepers, brown thrashers, catbirds, wood thrushes, robins, blue-gray gnatcatchers, cedar waxwings, red-winged blackbirds, Baltimore orioles, summer tanagers, indigo buntings, goldfinches, eastern towhees, chipping sparrows and field sparrows. In addition to several species of amphibians and reptiles, white-tailed deer, raccoons, black bears, gray foxes, bobcats, Virginia opossums, minks, muskrats, otters, striped skunks and several bat species are found here. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Pineville, travel west on W.Va. 97 for 20 miles. Turn right onto County Route 6-2 (Coal Mountain Long Branch Road) and proceed for 0.7 mile to Guyandotte Point Recreation Area. Closest town: Pineville
Chief Logan State Park
The wildlife exhibit at 3,300-acre Chief Logan is ideal destination for school field trips. The exhibit features Wes Virginia-native animals including black bears, bobcats, barred owls, red-shouldered hawks, wild boar and reptiles. In addition, go early or stay later in the evening to view some of the area’s year-round residents such as white-tailed deer; wild turkey; and red-shouldered, red-tailed and sharp-shinned hawks.
Directions: From Chapmanville, travel south on U.S. 119 for five miles. At the sign for Chief Logan State Park, turn left onto Old Logan Road. The park entrance is 4.6 miles on the right. Closest town: Logan
East Lynn Lake Wildlife Management Area
The oak-hickory forest surrounding the lake is habitat for white-tailed deer, raccoons, ruffed grouse and wild turkeys. Search the forest floors for wild turkeys because these large birds spend much of their time walking. In flight, they fly up to 55 miles per hour. Some areas are open to hunting.
Directions: At the intersection of W.Va. 152 and W.Va. 37 in Wayne, travel east on W.Va. 37 for 9.1 miles to the East Lynn Lake entrance sign. W.Va. 37 runs through the wildlife management area, offering numerous access points. Closest town: Wayne
Beech Fork Lake
Although open water and shoreline dominate this landscape, other habitats include old farmlands and pasturelands, wetlands and oak-hickory-pine forests. In open areas and fields, look for several species of hawks, including red-tailed, broad-winged and red-shouldered. At night, listen for barred owls calling their distinctive, “Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo. Hoo, hoo-hooo-aw.” Birds common in wetlands and on the lake include wood ducks, blue-winged teals, ospreys, great blue herons, green herons and great egrets. Between July and September, butterflies inhabiting the area include swallowtails, monarchs and skippers . Numerous species of amphibians and reptiles are present. Visitors also might see white-tailed deer, gray and red foxes, cottontail rabbits, raccoons, skunks, flying squirrels or even bobcats. Some areas are open to hunting.
Directions: From I-64, take Exit 8 onto W.Va. 152 South and proceed for 5.3 miles. In Lavalette, at the sign for Beech Fork Lake, turn left onto County Route 13 and proceed east for 2.2 miles to the marina entrance. If you are headed to the campground, from I-64, take Exit 11 onto W.Va. 10. Turn right onto Hughes Branch Road and follow this road to the park entrance. Closest town: Lavalette
Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area
The various habitats at Green Bottom, along the Ohio River, support a diversity of wildlife that includes 30 species of mammals, 105 species of birds in the fall and 47 species of birds in the winter, 12 species of amphibians and five species of reptiles. In early spring, bald eagles migrate through. Canada geese and wood ducks nest here. Mammals in the area include gray and red foxes, minks, muskrats, raccoons, white-tailed deer and beavers. Common amphibians include the leopard frog and the Jefferson salamander. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Huntington, travel north on W.Va. 2 for 16 miles. There are several access points to the area on the west side of W.Va. 2 just south of the Cabell and Mason county line. Closest town: Glenwood
McClintic Wildlife Management Area
Nineteen of this area’s 39 ponds are managed for waterfowl and aquatic furbearers such as minks and beavers. Waterfowl viewing is excellent here for Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, black ducks, gadwalls and blue- and green-winged teals. In the forests look for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, gray and fox squirrels, and ruffed grouse. Bobwhites prefer farmlands and pastures. In addition, this management area is located in Mason County, the only known range in West Virginia of the midland smooth softshell turtle, which resides in rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes. This is a natural area with few facilities, and it is a public hunting area.
Directions: At the intersection of W.Va. 2 and W.Va. 62 in Point Pleasant, travel north on W.Va. 62 for 6.4 miles. Turn right at the management area sign and travel east for 1.6 miles. The wildlife management area will be on the left. Closest town: Point Pleasant
Kanawha State Forest
Nineteen hiking trails provide access to many excellent wildlife viewing sites. Visitors might see white-tailed deer; bobcats; red and gray foxes; raccoons; red, gray and fox squirrels; southern flying squirrels; white-footed mice; and black bears. Nineteen species of wood warbler summer here along with dozens of other species. In the spring, the Spotted Salamander Trail is an ideal location to view amphibians including spotted salamanders, four-toed salamanders, marbled salamanders, green frogs, wood frogs, spring peepers, American toads, Fowler’s toads, mountain chorus frogs and gray tree frogs. The trails of Beech Glen, Balanced Rock and Mary Draper Ingles pass by massive sandstone overhangs that harbor woodrat middens; these interesting rodents can be observed at twilight. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Charleston, take Exit 58A off I-64 to access U.S. 119 South. Travel south on U.S. 119 to the sign for Kanawha State Forest (less than one mile) and turn left onto Oakwood Road. After 0.5 mile, Oakwood Road makes a sharp left. Turn right onto Bridge Road and proceed 0.6 mile, then turn right onto Connell Road and travel for 2.1 miles. Turn left onto Kanawha Forest Drive in Loudendale. The forest entrance is 2.5 miles on the right. Closest town: Charleston