Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 44
Breaks Interstate Park
There are only two shared or bi-state state parks in the
country; Breaks Interstate Park is one of them. Located
near the southern borders of Kentucky and Virginia, this
gem is known for extensive stream networks, rich cove
forests of poplar, oaks, and hemlock, and lush understories of shrubby species.
LIFE LISTERS: 30+ warbler species including Swainson's
Warbler / Kentucky Warbler / Worm-eating Warbler / Cerulean Warbler / Hooded Warbler / Wood Thrush / Eastern Wood-Pewee / Field Sparrow / Indigo Bunting / Gray
Catbird / Eastern Phoebe / Eastern Towhee / 20+ duck
species / Merlin / Loggerhead Shrike / 10+ flycatcher species / Golden Eagle / Bald Eagle
BIRD TRAILS: Hike over 25 miles of easy to difficult
trails. Detailed maps are available at the Visitor Center,
and guided hikes are available. Mountain biking, horseback riding, and geocaching are other options for trail
Breaks is part of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail,
and welcomes the public to join in the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. The Visitor Center
posts a 'recent sighting list', and has a free birding checklist brochure.
WHERE TO STAY: Breaks Interstate Park offers a wide variety of accommodations. The Lodge has 81 hotel and
suite rooms with an onsite restaurant. There are five lakefront cabins and four woodland cottages, with amenities.
For campers, 138 campsites range from primitive tent to
full RV hook-up spaces. You can also choose tree-covered,
grassy areas, or book early and stay in the yurt.
MUST-SEE: Russell Fork Gorge: This Class V river area
is reputed to be the largest gorge east of the Mississippi
Grayson HIGHlands state Park
The habitat characteristics of Grayson Highlands SP
support bird species rarely found elsewhere in Virginia.
Mount Rogers and White Top Mountain are the highest points in the state. The area contains a 1,100-acre
red spruce forest with trees over 150 years old; 200 acres
of mountaintop bald; and 2,200 acres of high-elevation
LIFE LISTERS: Appalachian Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
(subspecies) / Red Crossbill / Northern Saw-whet Owl /
Winter Wren / Hermit Thrush / Blackburnian Warbler
/ Golden-crowned Kinglet / Red-breasted Nuthatch /
BIRD TRAILS: Grayson Highlands SP has 13 hiking trails
with all but one path rated as moderate and difficult,
and nine miles of bridle trails. A unique aspect here is
the availability of scenic horse trails with horse camping,
stalls and the necessary trailer parking. Access to the Appalachian Trail and Virginia Highlands Horse Trail yearround.
WHERE TO STAY: There are 96 mostly wooded campsites
at Grayson Highlands SP with various amenities such
as fire-rings, picnic tables, grills and bathhouses. Group
camping is available, and the park has a basics-only
camping lodge bunkhouse.
MUST-SEE: Boulders: While it may sound a bit odd, the
geology in the park is unlike any other in the southeastern US. There are seven boulder fields with 700 climbing routes, aptly named 'problems'. People come from
around the world for the 'bouldering' at Grayson Highlands SP.
doutHat state Park
Since the construction of the park, dam, spillway,
this red-breasted, are at
home in Unicoi, Table
Rock, Gorges, Grandfather, Hiwassee-Ocoee,
Roan Mountain, Grayson
Highlands and North
Bend state parks.