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Saltville Well Fields


Elevation: 1729 ft.

The Saltville Well Fields offer a unique habitat for the mountain region of Virginia. The waters of these wetlands are brackish, providing the only inland saline marshes in Virginia. It is a popular venue for fisherman, who can be found fishing along the grassy banks around the lakes. This site is one of the best places to find migratory shorebirds and waterfowl in mountains of Virginia. Snow and Ross’s geese, grebes, northern pintail, American black duck, American wigeon, and green-winged teal are regular visitors. The surrounding woodlands can produce migratory warblers, thrushes, and vireos. Canada geese take permanent residence here, as do other feral ducks and geese.

Due to the unusual hydrology of this area and the dispersion of coastal plant species by migratory waterfowl, vegetation of this area is inclusive of both freshwater and saltwater communities. In addition to cattail, swamp rose mallow, swamp milkweed, and duckweed typical of freshwater marshes, halophytic vegetation such as sedge or saltmarsh bulrush, black-grass, and spearscale can also be found here. In addition to having tremendous historical significance, this saltlick is the site of summer paleo-archaological digs. Fossils from the Ice Age have been found here, including mastodon, woolly mammoth, giant ground sloth, musk ox, and stag moose. Over thirty species of spring wildflowers can be seen near the Palmer Mill Springs, including the infrequent wood poppy.

Nearby trails include:

Helen Williams Barbrow Interpretive Trail – The paved 0.6 mile trail has  a trailhead on Lake Drive and follows along the north shore of the ponds. The walk passes by paleontological research sites, salt well locations of the past, and interpretative markers. The trail connects with the Salt Trail, going to Glade Spring or back into downtown Saltville. In 2021, the Helen Barbrow Trail was extended from Lake Drive along the south shore of the ponds, ending at Palmer Mill. The 1.5 mile extension is not paved, but has a firm, gravel surface.

The Salt Trail – An 8.5 mile Rails to Trails trail that runs between Glade Spring, VA and Saltville, VA.



Location: Lake Dr, Saltville, VA 24370

On I-81, take exit 35 and bear right off exit onto SR 107. Stay on Route 107 for 7.8 miles. At the light, turn left onto East Main street. Go 0.2 miles and stay left onto Palmer Avenue at the fork. Travel 0.4 miles, then turn right onto Lake Drive. The well fields are to your right and left.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: (276) 496-5342,
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Saltville Well Fields (as reported to eBird)

  • Canada Goose
  • Mallard
  • Mourning Dove
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Environmental Study Area
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Parking
  • Historical Site