Skip to main content
A diversity of wildlife abounds along the streams, valleys and mountaintops of Nelson County.

Be sure to visit our hiking section which lists the trails within the county with many species of birds and wildlife to see and photograph. Visit the Rockfish Valley Foundation website for additional information on birding and wildlife watching.

As designated by the Department of Wildlife Resources there are many Virginia Watchable Wildlife Trails within the county that cover both the Mountain and Piedmont regions. Descriptions, directions, and maps can be found on the links listed below.

Find Your Spot
Nelson County Mountain Region

VIRGINIA BLUE RIDGE RAIL TRAIL is an easy, picturesque ride through a beautiful, natural setting with plentiful opportunities to see unique historical sites. The Piney and Tye rivers are constant companions, and you’ll cross five bridges on the seven-mile route, including a photo-worthy covered bridge at Naked Creek.

ROCKFISH GAP HAWK WATCH is a site where volunteer hawk-watchers congregate annually to count the hawk migrations from mid-August to November.

LOVE RIDGE MOUNTAIN LODGING provides a perfect getaway with accommodations along the Blue Ridge, including short walking trails through a patch of hardwood forest filled with birds associated with the Blue Ridge.

THE NATURE FOUNDATION AT WINTERGREEN’S Trillium House at Wintergreen Resort has 24 blazed trails, numerous mountain overlooks, 30 miles of hiking trails, and a nature preserve.

SPRUCE CREEK PARK trails along an easy walking path by the south fork of the Rockfish River with grassy areas and mountain views that offer a diversity of birds and wildlife.

CRABTREE FALLS (U.S. Forest Service) is a cascading waterfall deep into the mountain slopes of the Blue Ridge with a variety of bird species along a moderate to strenuous hiking trail.

LAKE NELSON is a 40 acre lake surrounded by woodland with a variety of waterfowl best viewed in the spring and fall.

THE MONTEBELLO AREA, on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a great place to view a variety of wildlife, stop at the state fish hatchery, and hike to Spy Rock, one of the highest elevations in the county.

Nelson County Piedmont Region

FORTUNE’S COVE PRESERVE Fortune’s Cove Preserve provides a challenging hike that rewards visitors with stunning mountain vistas. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades.

THE JAMES RIVER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA trail runs along the north shore of the James River with prolific habitat, including many species of waterfowl, butterflies and native birds.

ROCKFISH RIVER DEPOT offers views while driving scenic Rockfish River Road, with ample opportunities to stop and scan the river and tree tops for waterfowl.

The owners of THE QUARRY GARDENS AT SCHUYLER utilize native plants and materials in their impressive gardens, which features an impressive vertical wall.  Visitors to the 40-acre garden have a unique opportunity to learn about plants, as well as local wildlife and the history of the property.