Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail
The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT) stretches across the Commonwealth, connecting the land through easy-to-access trails, perfect for day hikes and Chesapeake birding. There are three sections of the trail, the Coastal Region, Mountain Region, and Piedmont Region, linking wildlife viewing sites across the state and allowing visitors to see the diverse array of wildlife that inhabits Virginia.
Chesapeake is considered part of the Coastal Region of the VBWT. While much of the wildlife you’ll see resides in Virginia year-round, many of them only visit for a short time during their annual migration along the Atlantic Flyway. One of the best times to visit is in the spring when you have the opportunity to see some rare birds, such as the American pipit or mourning warbler. However, visit during winter and you’ll have the chance to see swans, geese, and ducks on their migration path from Canada to South and Central America.
South Chesapeake Loop
The dog-friendly South Chesapeake Loop of the VBWT’s Coastal Region starts in Chesapeake and features a variety of bird habitats, including forests and swamplands. With over 400 species of birds and 150 species of mammals, you won’t be disappointed on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. In fact, at one single stop along the South Chesapeake Loop, you might catch sight of a whole range of animals, from a nuthatch, a prothonotary warbler in a swamp tree, or even a great blue heron. Accessible year-round, this trail is perfect for hikers of all skill levels and all ages.
To get to the South Chesapeake Loop, head to the Chesapeake Arboretum, a 48-acre green space in southeast Chesapeake. Just take North Battlefield Blvd to Oak Grove Road until you reach the Native Woodland Garden. Here you’ll find an entrance to the trails located just across the street from the gardens and parking lot. The trail has free parking and is handicap accessible.
Spanning the central interior of Virginia and running from the state line with North Carolina to the state line with Maryland, the Piedmont Region of the VBWT takes you right between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Coastal Plain. The 13 loops in this region provide birding opportunities to see fox sparrows, indigo buntings, yellow-billed cuckoos, red-tailed hawks, and much more. Interspersed with open fields, forests, ponds, rivers, and creeks, the area is home to wildlife such as beavers, red foxes, turtles, white-tailed deer, and the occasional black bear.
Boasting an incredible 34 loops to choose from, the Mountain Region of the VWBT spans the western edge of Virginia. As the name implies, trails in this region take you through the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny Mountains, and Cumberland Mountains, all of which are part of the massive Appalachian Mountain Range. As you make your way through forests, rivers, vistas, and wetlands, keep an eye out for the 20 species of warblers to be seen in the area, along with winter waterfowl, rose-breasted grosbeaks, scarlet tanagers, bald eagles, and migrating hawks. On the wildlife front, you might see the rare aquatic hellbender salamander, the more common Peaks of Otter salamander, wild turkeys, deer, black bears, painted turtles, and woodchucks.
Choose Your Adventure
Whichever route or trail you choose, you are guaranteed to experience a truly wonderful nature outing in some of Virginia’s most beautiful settings. When you head out on one of the many excursions that make up the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, be prepared for deep green forests, carefully maintained trails, native plants, and abundant wildlife, especially birds.
Visit the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail website for more information on individual trails and regions.