|COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.|
Elevation: 1360 ft., Cumberland Gap National Historic Park spans the borders of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The park surrounds Cumberland Gap, a natural corridor providing passage across the Appalachians. Woodland bison, elk, and deer in search of salt licks and food first trampled the pathway. The Shawnee and Cherokee Indians followed these trails at the Gap and connected to an extensive trade route. In 1769, Daniel Boone made his first of several passages through the Gap. By 1800, Wilderness Road, a two-way thoroughfare, had been constructed and allowed for massive movement of settlers into the West.
Wilderness Road Campground is located in southwest Virginia, just east of Cumberland Gap. The campground offers access to several trailheads that are part of the extensive, interconnected 70 miles of trail system throughout the entire park complex. The campground is heavily forested with Virginia pine, dogwood, yellow poplar, and sourwood. At higher elevations, oaks, hickories, and beech, more typical of northern hardwood forests, surround the trails. These woodlands are home to a large number of nesting neotropical migrants. At low elevations, hooded warbler, ovenbird, and wood thrush can be heard singing throughout the day. Nesting summer tanager and American redstart add color to the forests, as do the abundant resident pileated woodpecker. Migration of birds and butterflies that ride on the updrafts of the Cumberland Mountains can be quite good. In the fall, Pinnacle Overlook is a popular venue among local birders for hawk migration. Of interest to many nature explorers is the mile-long trail that leads to a 200-foot long limestone cavern, Skylight Cave. Other trails originating at the campground interconnect to trails that meander through forest, mountaintop views, and talus slopes. The main visitor’s center is located on US 25 East in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
From Wilderness Road State Park, return to US 58 and turn right/west. Follow US 58 West for approximately 7.0 miles to the Wilderness Road Campground on your right.