Woodpecker Ridge Nature Center is located in Troutville, Virginia. From Roanoke, take exit 150B off of US-81, follow signs for US-11, turn left at Lee Hwy/US-11 N, turn right at State Route 651/Stoney Battery Rd, and drive about a mile looking for the Woodpecker Ridge sign a hundred feet off of the road on your left; mailing address 941 Stoney Battery Rd. Primary activities include birding and wildlife viewing. Parking is free but limited. There is an outhouse on the property that is embedded in the trail system and not located at the trail head. Water is not provided. Cell phone service was strong while in the park. The following Google Map includes GPS coordinates recorded while walking through the park.
Woodpecker Ridge includes butterfly gardens, hawk-watch decks, and numerous interconnected trails. The following garden is located near the parking area.
The trail system is a highly interconnected set of grass and dirt trails that are easy to walk and well marked; a free map is available in the parking area. The trails hover at an elevation of 1,600 feet.
In addition, the park includes a bog that attracts a diverse set of species and two ponds (not seen in subsequent picture).
Strategically scattered throughout the park are bird feeders and houses that can make viewing birds easy. Birds we heard included field sparrow (high pitched, sounds like a bouncing ping pong ball), pine warbler (consistent shrill), gold finch (squeaky, sounds like it is saying “potato chip”), red-bellied woodpecker, tufted titmouse, eastern towhee, and yellow-rumped warbler. Birds we saw included cardinal, yellow-billed cuckoo, turkey vulture, eastern bluebird, hummingbird, and cowbird. It is recommended to go birding at dawn because birds are active in the early morning.
This was my first birding trip so I needed to be reminded how to focus my binoculars. First, point your binoculars on an object at a desired viewing distance. Second, close your right eye and focus your left lens using the adjuster in the center of your binoculars. Third, close your left eye and focus the right lens using the adjuster near your right eye piece.
The northern end of the park includes two hawk watching decks and a clear view to the north.
The following is a panoramic view from the deck seen above.
I also took a video from the same deck.
In addition to birds, we saw an eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly.
On the edge of the trail, we spotted autumn-olive; an invasive shrubby tree.
We saw buttercup flowers while walking in an open field near the hawk-watch decks.
Last but not least, we saw mayapple plants providing low ground cover in a dense forest.
In sum, Woodpecker Ridge Nature Center is peaceful place for birding that is very accessible and includes several different bird habitats. Related trails in the Roanoke area include: