|COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.|
Elevation: 1871 ft.
The Paint Bank area is experiencing a revival of sorts supported by the Mulheren family and the management team at the Hollow Hill Farm and Paint Bank General Store. Paint Bank, like many other towns along the Virginia/West Virginia border, started as a mining town. At one time, the area supported a railroad depot and flourishing hotel. However, when the mines closed, the town faded into a sleepy crossroads. In the 1990s, the area became home to the Hollow Hill Farm, which supports over 400 American bison. As the farm prospered, it expanded to include the Paint Bank General Store and the recently opened Depot Lodge bed-and-breakfast. Future plans include the restoration of Tingler’s Mill and perhaps the original Paint Bank Hotel. At present, Paint Bank could serve as the perfect base to explore Craig and neighboring counties as well as parts of West Virginia. Wildlife watching starts right on the grounds of the General Store and Depot Lodge, which follow Potts Creek through the Town of Paint Bank. The creek here is perfect for a relaxing walk, with plans to expand access downstream roughly another 0.5 miles. Check the creek for several distinct damselflies such as the emerald-bodied and black-winged ebony jewelwing, which tends to stick to the shadier areas along the stream. Also look for the striking black and white powdered dancer that is more often found on rocks in bright sun.
The gardens at the Depot Lodge support a variety of songbirds. The bushes play host to nectar sipping ruby-throated hummingbirds in the middle of the day and browsing white-tailed deer at dusk. The General Store and the Depot Lodge also serve as starting points for a visit to Hollow Hill Farm. This working buffalo farm covers practically the entire Potts Creek Valley from just outside Paint Bank on into West Virginia. The farm is abutted on both sides by National Forest Land where the fields give way to hillsides of hardwood forest. Wildlife to look for in this area includes white-tailed deer and black bear. Resident birds include most eastern woodland species with a variety of warblers in spring and summer. The open fields host hawking eastern kingbirds in summer and hunting raptors in fall and winter. The ridges on both sides of the valley are perfect for soaring turkey vultures occasionally joined by common ravens.
From Paint Bank Fish Hatchery, drive north on SR 311 for 1.5 miles to the General Store on the left. The Depot Lodge is across the street from the General Store. Tours of Hollow Hill Farm can be arranged at the store or lodge.