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Elevation: 3874 ft.
Situated in the Allegheny Mountains of southwest Virginia, Mountain Lake Resort is located on 2600 acres of rolling mountains and hardwood forests. At the center of this landscape is the spring-fed Mountain Lake, one of only two natural lakes in Virginia (the other is Lake Drummond in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge). Unlike most natural lakes, Mountain Lake was not formed by glacial activity. It is believed that several thousands of years ago, a rockslide dammed a narrow valley in which cool mountain springs filled to form a lake.
The adjacent 11,113 acres of woodlands around the lake and hotel are governed and maintained as part of the Mountain Lake Wilderness Conservancy Area. Ruffed grouse and wild turkey are common throughout, as are white-tailed deer, red fox, bobcat, and long-tailed weasel. Black bear may be lurking through the woods but are often difficult to spy. Fowler’s and American toads and gray treefrogs keep a low profile within these woods as well. The area’s range in elevation of approximately 600 meters between the summit and base of Mountain Lake allows for a diversity in bird populations.
Numerous trails provide a myriad of habitats to explore. Trail maps may be obtained from the hotel and its gift shop.
A few of the trails recommended for birding and wildlife viewing:
Along the 1.5-mile Indian Trail that circles the lake, nesting Canada warbler, dark-eyed junco, and indigo bunting can be found. Red-backed and northern dusky salamanders are common along the spring-fed streams.
The Bald Knob Trail can be accessed by a 0.5-mile moderately difficult pedestrian trail or by vehicle along the 0.75-mile stretch of Bald Knob Road. The peak at Bald Knob stands at 4,363 feet and is a popular spot for watching hawk migration in the fall.
Cinnamon and hay-scented ferns are common along the 0.9-mile Upper Jungle Trail and provide good cover for scurrying eastern chipmunk and red squirrel. Along this trail, look for chestnut-sided warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak, and scarlet tanager.
Several other trails, including Middle Jungle, White Pine Rd, and Homestead, provide access to other unique habitats.
Near the resort’s cabins and Main Stone Lodge, Barn swallow and veery can be found, while rose-breasted grosbeak and the rare cerulean warbler reside along various roads throughout the site.
The Mountain Lake Wilderness lies squarely on the Eastern Continental Divide. Precipitation on the western edge is carried away by stream runoffs that empty into the New River, flowing onward to the Ohio River and emptying into the Mississippi River. Precipitation on the eastern edge flows eastward, flowing into the James River, into Chesapeake Bay, and, eventually, into the Atlantic Ocean.
Physical Address: 115 Hotel Cir, Pembroke, Virginia 24136
From Blacksburg, take US 460 W for 6.7 miles, then turn right onto VA-700. Turn right onto VA-700/Mountain Lake Road and continue 6.6 miles uphill towards the mountain. Continue onto VA-613, then turn right onto Hotel Circle.
From the Previous Site on the Eastern Continental Divide Loop of VBWT:
From Pandapas Pond, return to US 460 West, turn left, and travel west 3.8 miles to Rt. 700/Mountain Lake Road. Turn right onto Rt. 700/Mountain Lake Road and continue for 6.7 miles uphill towards the mountain.
Location & DirectionsView on Google Maps
- Site Contact: (540) 626-7121, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Access: Free, Daily
Seasonal Bird Observations
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- Environmental Study Area
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