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Peaks of Otter Recreation Area

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDGIF encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail to find out whether they are still open to the public. Information regarding closures is typically posted on a site's own website. Be advised that some sites, even if still open, may have certain public facilities closed during this time. If a site is still open, maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.

Description

Elevation: 2565 ft.

The Peaks of Otter is formed by the triangulation of three mountains: Sharp Top Mountain, with a summit of 3875 feet; Flat Top Mountain, whose peak is at 4001 feet; and Harkening Hill, whose apex reaches 3372 feet. Nestled between these mountains is Abbott Lake. Seven trails meander throughout this recreational area, traversing old-growth hardwood forests, open meadows, rocky outcrops, a cascading waterfall, streamside woodlands, and lake habitats. Stop by the visitor’s center to pick up a trail map.

Birders will, perhaps, find the best birding on the Flat Top Mountain Trail, where high-elevation neotropical songbirds nest. In the summer, look for black-throated blue, cerulean, Blackburnian, worm-eating, and Canada warblers, as well as blue-headed vireo, scarlet tanager, and rose-breasted grosbeak. The woodlands resonate with the melodies of veery and the chipping of dark-eyed junco. Spring and fall can produce a large number of migrants. Migratory passerines may be found in the woodlands, raptors soaring above, and common loon and other waterfowl and shorebirds taking refuge in Abbott Lake. Other wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, red fox, and even black bear inhabit this large recreation area. Herp lovers will be enthused to find timber rattlesnake, American toad, and five-lined skink lurking along the trails along with a variety of salamanders. In addition to the hiking trails, this site offers lodging facilities, picnic shelters, a restaurant, and a visitor’s center with wildlife displays and a gift shop.

Directions

Physical Location: Milepost 85.6 on the Blueridge Parkway

From Bedford, VA, take State Rt 640 for 2.8 miles, then turn left onto State Rt. 643 and continue 0.7 miles. Turn right onto VA-43 N and travel 5 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn right onto the parkway. Travel 0.4 miles to the Recreation Area, which will be on the left.

From the Previous Site on the Peaks of Otter Loop of VBWT:

From the end of Warbler Road at the James River, return to Rt. 614 and go east for approx. 4.6 miles to Rt. 618. Turn right onto Rt. 618. Continue on Rt. 618 for approximately 4.0 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn left onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue approximately 3.0 miles to Peaks of Otter Recreation Area on the left.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: (540) 586-4357 gene_parker@nps.gov
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Visitor/Nature Center
  • Camping
  • Handicap Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Interpretive Nature Program
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Lodging
  • Parking
  • Phone
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms