The Bear Loop Trail is located in Warm Springs Mountain Preserve, a keystone tract nested within a 77,000-acre unfragmented forest providing essential habitat for wide ranging mammals and migratory songbirds. This 3-mile loop trail is relatively flat, easy and wide enough for families and groups of birders and other wildlife watchers. Several overlooks offer stunning panoramic views to the East and West. Interpretive signs highlight the mountain’s diversity of wildlife species and habitats in addition to The Nature Conservancy’s effort to restore the region’s fire-adapted oak and pine forests. The trail encircles an area that is being restored through controlled burning, thus providing a diversity of open woodland and shrubland habitat for Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Black-throated Green Warblers, American Redstarts, Scarlet Tanagers, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos are also abundant. Also listen for the buzzy song of Cerulean Warblers. This is a great place to learn to distinguish similar forest species’ songs! Several seeps, springs and vernal pools provide opportunities to look for Wood Frogs, Red-spotted Newts, dragonflies and damselflies and even rare plants such as Fraser’s marsh St. John’s Wort. Don’t forget to look down as black bear, bobcat, eastern coyote and white-tailed deer tracks are common along the trail.
Address: 6240 Airport Rd, Hot Springs, VA 24445
From US Hwy 220 in Hot Springs, Virginia, head southwest toward Virginia Ave. Turn left onto State Rte 606 and continue 2.6 miles. Turn left onto State Rte 703 and continue 6.2 miles. Turn right towards the airport. The Preserve is just left of the entrance to Ingalls Field Airport.
From the Previous Site on the Alleghany Highlands Loop of the VBWT:
To visit the Bear Loop Trail from from the Dolly Anne Hollow/ Smith Creek driving route, take an excursion from the driving route beginning at the intersection of FR 125 (Dolly Ann Dr) and SR 606 (Sulfur Spring Rd). Travel west on SR 606 for 3 miles. Turn right onto SR 703 (Airport Rd) and continue for 6.2 miles. Turn right towards the airport. The preserve is just left of the entrance to Ingalls Field Airport.
After visiting the Bear Loop Trail, to resume the Dolly Anne Hollow/ Smith Creek driving route, exit the parking area back onto SR 703 and travel south 6.2 miles to return to SR 606 and turn left. Travel 2.2 miles on SR 606, then turn left onto FR 125 (Smith Creek Rd). The driving route continues for 10 miles, concluding at the intersection of FR125 and SR 629 (Douthat State Park Rd).
Location & DirectionsView on Google Maps
- Site Contact: The Nature Conservancy, Allegheny Highlands Program Office: 540-839-3599; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Access: dawn to dusk
Seasonal Bird Observations
- Hiking Trails
- Interpretive Trail