Lake Nelson

Important Notices

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: 600 ft.

This 40-acre lake offers its best wildlife watching in the fall and winter when waterfowl such as mallard, black duck, gadwall, American widgeon, ruddy duck and hooded merganser augment the large groups of resident Canada geese that already call the lake home. During migration periods the lake may also host traveling shorebirds with spotted and solitary sandpipers likely to drop in and spend time with the breeding killdeers. In the spring and summer, the lake is home to a variety of dragonflies including widow and slaty skimmers, eastern pondhawk and eastern amberwing. The woodlands surrounding the lake host a variety of eastern woodland species and a visit in spring or summer is likely to produce the brilliant yellow flashes of American goldfinch twittering overhead and eastern tiger swallowtail sailing past in search of the next landing pad.

Note: To access the site, a Restore the Wild Membership, Virginia hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or an access permit is required.


From the Town of Piney River, head north on SR 151/Patrick Henry Highway 0.9 miles to SR 56. Travel east on SR 56 for 1.0 miles to Rt. 674/Rose Mill Road, turn right and go 3.6 miles to US 29. Cross US 29 and drive north 0.5 miles to Rt. 665/Wilson’s Hill Road. Turn right on Rt. 665 and follow it 2.5 miles to Rt. 655. Turn right, cross the bridge, and then make an immediate left onto Rt. 812. Continue 1.3 miles to Lake Nelson Lane and turn left. Follow this road 0.9 miles to the lake.

To return to a major highway, retrace the path back to US 29. From here, follow US 29 north to the Thomas Jefferson Loop or south to the Peaks of Otter Loop.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

Birds Recently Seen at Lake Nelson (as reported to eBird)

  • Mallard
  • Mourning Dove
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Boat Ramp