Birding at the Gaudineer Scenic Area
The Gaudineer Scenic Area is a glimpse of what West Virginia’s mountain highlands used to look like. The preservation of the forest was the result of a surveying error and was designated as a scenic area in 1964 by the U.S. Forest Service. It has also been dedicated a National Natural Landmark. The area is only to be used for study and enjoyment and is left in an undisturbed condition. Visitors have the opportunity to view the notable virgin red spruce trees that range from 200 to 250 years old. The average red spruce is up to 40-60 feet and 40 inches in diameter.
Within the 140 acre region, visitors can find two hiking trails that both span around a half-mile long. The trails offer sights of not only the notable red spruce trees but also cherry, yellow birch, beech, red maple and sugar maple trees. Other plants and foliage include rhododendron, moosewood, new-growth spruce and birch, ferns, wood sorrel, mosses, wood shamrock, trilliums and foam flowers.
The Gaudineer Scenic Area is also a great place to catch sights of wildlife, especially birds. Birding is very common in the area. Nine of the most common breeding birds here include magnolia warblers, solitary vireos, black-throated blue warblers, blackburnian warblers, dark-eyed juncos, winter wrens, black-capped chickadees, golden-crowned kinglets, and chestnut-sided warblers. Early mornings and in the evenings between mid-May and mid-July are the best times to see ample amounts of birds in the area. On top of the normal viewing, 22 species of warblers are known to spend the summer months in the area, which is more than any other mountain in the Appalachians. Lastly, Gaudineer is considered an exceptional place to view four species of brown-backed thrushes. These include hermit, Swainson’s, wood thrush, and veery.
With the majority of the course relatively flat and only a half mile, the course is an easy hike for all. As for bird watching, the hike is also considered easy for catching sights of the local birds.
What to bring
When heading out for a day of birding be sure to have a pair of binoculars and a camera. Other items you might want to bring along are water and comfortable walking shoes.
How to get there
The address is Forest Road 27, Durbin, WV 26264. From Durbin, drive west on US 250 for 4 miles to Forest Service Road 27, then north for 1.5 miles. The Gaudineer Scenic Area is in the headwaters of Glade Run and Old Run Road. The coordinates are: 38°37’30.3″N 79°50’30.0″W