Elevation: 1919 ft.
Hidden Valley is aptly named as the lush green valley comes as an unexpected surprise after driving through thick, plentiful forest. The valley is home to many of Virginia’s open country birds and provides miles of edge habitat for more species to inhabit. A few natural interconnecting trails run through the valley and offer up-close views of the area’s wildlife and vegetation – be on the lookout for poison ivy and snakes. Cobbler Mountain Trail includes a wooden footbridge and follows Chimney Run along the bottom of Cobbler Mountain through wetland. This trail meets with Muddy Run Trail which can be taken for 0.1 miles to reach the Hidden Valley Trail at a small wooden footbridge crossing over Muddy Run. From this point, you can follow the Jackson River Gorge Trail for 0.2 miles to a large suspension bridge over the Jackson River.
A visit to the valley is probably best in the early morning before the sun gets too hot and the animals retire to the shelter of scrub and woods. In the open areas of the valley, search for birds such as eastern kingbird and eastern bluebird as well as field and chirping sparrows. Overhead, red-tailed or broad-winged hawks may join the ubiquitous turkey vultures that are busy scavenging. The numerous thickets of scrubby brush support wildflowers, including plenty of vibrant orange jewelweed. This habitat is perfect for gray catbirds which can often be heard “mewing” from deep within cover. Butterflies such as spicebush swallowtail, common wood-nymph, and silver-spotted skipper also frequent these scrubby areas.
The camping area next to Hidden Valley is slightly more wooded and therefore invites exploration of a different mix of birds. In this area, search for small flocks of Carolina chickadee and tufted titmouse or less common species such as white-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo, worm-eating and black-and-white warblers, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Several of the structures around the campground support nesting eastern phoebes – check especially near the restrooms. The trees around the edge of the campground are also worth a closer look since they often provide perches for flycatching cedar waxwings.
Physical Address: 1531 Hidden Valley Rd, Warm Springs, VA 24484
From Warm Springs, head west on VA-39/Mountain Valley Rd, turn right onto SR-621/McGuffin Rd, slight left onto Hidden Valley Rd, and at the T-intersection, either turn left toward the campground and trailheads or right toward the Hidden Valley trailhead.