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Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve


Elevation: 2304 ft.

This natural area preserve encompasses 925 acres of woodland community. As its name implies, the soil of this area is predominantly infertile. Leaching sediment from metamorphic bedrock has intensified the acidity of these soils. A short 0.25-mile trail wanders through a portion of these woodlands, passing open meadows and fields covered in blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Ruffed grouse and wild turkey are common throughout this preserve. Resident pileated woodpeckers dart across the woods vocalizing with their battlefield-cry calls in flight. Wood thrush, scarlet tanager, and ovenbird are apparent neotropical nesters easily spied in the breeding season. Unique to this area is piratebush, a light-colored bushy plant. This is one of the rarest shrubs in eastern North America and is only found at a few locations in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. White-tailed deer, black bear, and eastern gray squirrel scurry throughout this preserve. Common wood-nymph and Appalachian brown skirt along woodland edges, while pipevine swallowtail and great spangled fritillary flit about the blooming milkweeds near the parking lot.


From Moyer Sports Complex/Roanoke River Greenway, turn left onto Eddy Street and cross the Roanoke River. Follow Eddy to Piedmont Avenue and turn right. Continue on Piedmont to West Riverside Drive and bear left. Follow West Riverside Drive to Twelve O’Clock Knob Road. Turn left onto Twelve O’Clock Knob Road and travel 4.8 miles to the parking lot on the right.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: (540) 265-5234,
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve (as reported to eBird)

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • American Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Environmental Study Area
  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking