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Flagpole Knob


Elevation: 4190 ft.

Forest Road 85 travels 3.6 miles to the summit of Flagpole Knob, wobbling along the top of the Alleghany Mountains following the border between Virginia and West Virginia. This high elevation access route brings the wildlife watcher into habitats not encountered elsewhere on the North River Loop of the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail. If visiting in spring, search the roadside woods for warblers, which are sure to be singing in spring and early summer. Species to look for include black-throated green, worm-eating, chestnut-sided and Canada warblers. Fall presents a different wildlife viewing experience. As the fall migration gets under way, hundreds and, at times, thousands of migrating hawks can be seen along the ridge. Depending on weather conditions, migrating songbirds could also turn up in numbers along the ridge. Even outside of migration, the views from the ridge top, combined with dark-eyed juncos, cedar waxwings and red-eyed vireos, certainly make the trip worthwhile.


  • Forest Road 85 towards the Flagpole Knob summit is remote, narrow, very steep, deeply rutted, and rocky. ONLY EXPERIENCED DRIVERS WITH VEHICLES SPECIFICALLY MODIFIED FOR OVERLANDING/OFF-ROADING SHOULD ATTEMPT TO DRIVE TO THE SUMMIT. 
  • Park off the road at Briery Branch Gap (38.482125, -79.221090) and hike or mountain bike to the summit. It is 7.2 miles round trip, highly technical and strenuous, though, and not recommended for beginners.


Physical Coordinates: 38.510096, -79.183964

From Bridgewater, head north on VA-738/Dry River Rd, turn left onto VA-257 W/VA-738/Ottobine Rd, turn left onto SR-613/VA-257 W/Briery Branch Rd to the town of Briery Branch, turn right to stay on VA-257 W/Briery Branch Rd, continue onto SR-924/Briery Branch Rd, in approximately 6.7 miles, Briery Branch Rd ends at a dirt pull-off and the intersection with FR-85 and FR-25. Continue straight for the road to the summit.


Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: U.S. Forest Service, North River Ranger District: 540-432-0187,
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Seasonal Bird Observations


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