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Madison Run Fire Road, Shenandoah National Park

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDWR encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail for any COVID-19 policies or closures. This information is typically posted on a site's own website. Remember to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.


Elevation: 1364 ft.

The Madison Fire Road connects Grottoes with the Skyline Drive. The road, which is closed to public vehicles, makes for an enjoyable hike and runs 10.1 miles out and back. This road, like many sites along this loop, is at its best in spring and early summer when numerous breeding birds return from their winter haunts in the tropics. In spring, search for black-and-white, hooded, and worm-eating warblers, American redstart, Louisiana waterthrush, scarlet tanager, and rose-breasted grosbeak especially as the trail nears the ridge top. Other species that can be encountered along the way include red-bellied, downy, hairy and pileated woodpeckers, eastern wood-pewee, red-eyed vireo and eastern towhee. Ruffed grouse are always a possibility to see walking across the road. Butterfly species noted in this area include spicebush, tiger swallowtail, and red-spotted purple. The road also seems to act as a magnet for reptiles. Fence lizards commonly scurry through the adjacent leaf litter and eastern garter and black rat snakes are likely to be found casually sunning themselves on the warm road. Timber rattlesnakes may also be encountered.


Location: Between Browns Gap Rd and Skyline Dr, Grottoes, VA 24441

This trail can be accessed at either of its two ends. Head east from central Grottoes on Browns Gap Rd/SR 663 to access an entrance also searchable as “Furnace Mtn. – Austin trail” on Google Maps. Additionally, there is an entrance point/parking area off Skyline Dr at (38.240581, -78.710719) searchable as “Browns Gap Parking” on Google Maps.

From the previous site on the Lost Shoe Loop of the VBWT:

From Grand Caverns Regional Park, return to SR 825 and continue left (north) for approximately 0.3 miles. Veer right onto SR 256 and continue east for 0.4 miles to its intersection with US 340. Turn left and travel 0.1 miles to SR 663. Turn right and proceed east 2.7 miles to the parking area. The top of the fire road is on the Skyline Drive at Brown’s Gap (near mile marker 83).

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: (540) 999-3433, james_atkinson@nps.gov
  • Website
  • Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free

10 Most Recent Bird Observations Added to eBird

  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Common Raven
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Wren
  • American Goldfinch
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Louisiana Waterthrush

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Camping
  • Environmental Study Area
  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking