Cranberry and Infinity Loop trips have breakfast waiting on the bus at 6 AM and depart Burnwood as quickly as possible. Cranberry and Infinity Loop return by 5 PM.
Birding by Butt (Thursday) begins in the Meadows at Opossum Creek Retreat with coffee at 6 AM, breakfast at 8 AM, outings at 9 AM; wraps up with lunch at Noon.
All other trips begin from Burnwood at 6 AM with hot buffet style breakfast under a pavilion; depart by 7 AM and return by 2 PM. Field Trip transportation is provided by bus.
After field trips depart from Burnwood, modern restroom facilities are limited - some routes stop at public areas for restroom breaks and some destinations have varying facilities.
In response to weather, road conditions and bird movement, trip routes may be adjusted and some trips may overlap territory.
♦ Detailed location information and maps are provided to registratrants in April.
• Cranberry *returns ~5 PM
• Burnwood to Babcock
• Kanawha Falls
• Sugar Creek *special premium Jeep Tour Thursday!
• Muddlety to Carnifex
• Birding by Butt *Thursday. Festival check-in for second-half week first-timers, and option for all week birders.
• Infinity Loop *returns ~5 PM
• ACE Reptiles & Amphibians
• Glade Creek
• The Summit
• Wolf Creek & Rail Trail
April 29 - May 4, 2024
This is a true favorite that many returning participants continue to repeat. Year after year we hear it is “well worth the drive” from participants and guides alike. This All Day trip is an opportunity to take full advantage of the unique birding and flora found in a remnant of the glacial age. The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is among West Virginia’s most unique eco-systems as it consists of bogs and highland areas whose plant and bird life are similar to that found in the "muskegs" of the far north. The southern-most point in North America where some northern-most plant and bird species are found! A boardwalk through a botanical area is ripe with flora seen nowhere else in WV. Also often seen on this trip are abundant signs of black bear. Birds normally encountered include Canada Warbler, Black-throated Blue, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes, singing Hermit Thrush, and species not normally encountered elsewhere in the state… Red-breasted Nuthatch and Red Crossbill.
*Trip departs as quickly as everyone arrives. Breakfast is waiting on the bus. The initial ride is ~90 minutes. Participants are in and out of the bus at various stops with minimal walking on mostly level land, including a half-mile boardwalk mile loop that truly is slippery when wet. Return ride is ~120 minutes. Return time ~5pm.
Burnwood to Babcock
Babcock State Park is one of West Virginia’s premier state parks, and home to one of America’s most photographed grist mills in Mann's Creek Canyon. Wonderful vistas teaming with warblers and vireos, the area offers some of the best opportunities for Black-throated Green Warblers, Swainson's Warblers and Blue-headed Vireos.
*The initial ride is ~40 minutes. We’ll be in and out of the bus with plenty to explore and walking along dirt and paved paths usually on level terrain, and a couple of steep inclines. Return ride is ~50 minutes.
From rim to river to rim, this loop takes us to the Kanawha Falls just below the confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers. A very scenic route, we stop at parks, waterfalls, and various habitat elevations. Along the way, we hope to find Cliff Swallows (the only known location for them), various waterfowl at river level, as well as a variety of warblers and mid-level passerines along the way, and maybe get lucky to see a Redheaded Woodpecker.
*The initial ride is ~15 minutes. We'll be in and out the bus with a fair amount of leisurely walking on paths with easy to moderate inclines. Return ride is ~20 minutes.
Providing spectacular scenic views, this trip was added to the Festival itinerary in 2005 and continues to receive rave reviews. It is a short ride and sure to please those with plant interests as well as bird watchers. Descending from a high ridge separating the New and Gauley Rivers, this trip provides the unique experience of exploring high, mid, and river level territories. We're hopeful to get to the river but winters are hard on back mountain roads so we'll go as far as we can. Birds commonly seen include Cerulean Warbler, Yellow and Black-billed Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanager, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.
Thursday Sugar Creek is a premium Jeep Tour all the way to the Gauley River, +$80 per person.
*The initial ride is ~25 minutes. We’ll be in and out of the bus with minimal walking between stops. Return ride is ~60 minutes.
Muddlety to Carnifex
Described by American Birding Association President Jeff Gordon as “the birdiest habitat in the Appalachians” this trip through varied habitat of wetlands and ridge tops offers quality looks at favorite migrants and resident birds, butterflies, plants and wildlife. If we’re lucky, we'll stop to hug the century’s old, largest tulip popular tree in West Virginia.
*The initial ride is ~50 minutes. We’re in and out of the bus with minimal walking between stops. Return ride is ~45 minutes.
Birding by Butt
Thursday only. Birding by Butt is a unique part of our Festival for first-timers and veterans alike. Coffee is ready at 6 AM, breakfast at 8 AM, outings begin at 9 AM, and ends after lunch at noon. You roll in when you're ready to begin. Serves as Festival check-in for second-half week first-time visitors, and an optional mid-week trip for all week birders to relax a bit.
The setting is best described as laid back. Imagine sipping a hot cup of coffee in the morning on the porch enjoying the morning chorus while being treated to looks at Scarlet Tanager, not an occurrence that happens every year but certainly one that does happen. Hooded Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, and Northern Parula are in abundance here, and with spotting scopes and well-trained eyes, many people find themselves seeing the birds often enough that they turn from identification to observing behavior.
After you arrive to the Meadows at the bird-rich grounds of Opossum Creek Retreat, we take time to refresh your knowledge of optics, tune your ears, sight your eyes, and get into the mode as we take short walks around the property for some old school bird and nature watching. An opportunity to spend time with those you’ll bird with through your time with us, sometimes birding becomes secondary to getting acquainted with fellow enthusiasts who love sharing the art and lifestyle of bird and nature watching.
Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. demonstrates the “how and why” of banding and using field marks for identification. A mothing area may be staged if conditions permit. Botanizing is splendid. And you never know when fallout could happen.
*At Opossum Creek Retreat's, the Meadows. Transpotation is NOT provided to this location. Coffee is ready at 6am. Breakfast is ready at 8am. Outings begin at 9am. Wraps up with lunch at 12pm.
The Infinity Loop is welcoming explorers. We’ve experimented with this route a few times and still don’t know where we’re going, but we have found our way home each time! An adventurous, back road route to high elevation, amazing vistas and unique habitats through logging cuts and mine sites in many stages of regrowth, including areas reclaimed for sustainable, renewable energy. Birds we hope to see include Chestnut-sided Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, and many true migrants.
*Trip departs as quickly as everyone arrives. Breakfast is waiting for you on the bus. The initial ride is ~45 minutes. Restroom stop en-route. We’re in and out of the bus with minimal walking between stops. Return ride is ~45 minutes.
ACE Reptiles & Amphibians
Added in 2018 and immediately became a favorite, this is a hands on exploration of the outstanding biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles found in a variety of habitats is staffed with great herpetologists for your discovery and identification experience. We carpool to the largest outdoor adventure resort in the county with several great locations with interesting life to discover. WVDNR reports there are currently 65 known species of amphibians and reptiles in Fayette County. Several amphibian and reptile species are on WV’s rare species list and two species of salamander are endemic to West Virginia. Birds we may encounter include Pileated Woodpecker, ducks, wood warblers, and Belted Kingfisher. If we’re lucky, we’ll see North American River Otter and North American Beaver.
*The initial ride is ~20 minutes. We’ll ride to a few locations on the property with some walking at each stop, along lakes, ponds, creeks, and woodland trails on mostly level ground, and a few inclines with varying soft or rocky terrain. Return ride is ~20 minutes.
Flowing into the heart of New River, Glade Creek offers true exploration of our major flyway. Year after year, point counts conducted along this corridor yield an unmatched diversity of species and it’s among the first places in our area to receive flocks of migrating warblers, vireos, orioles and tanagers. A treasure to our local birding community, we look forward to getting you into this birdy and beautiful part of the Gorge - rich in birds, botany and butterflies!
*The initial ride is ~45 minutes. The majority of the day is spent on a leisurely walk along a graveled Park Service road following the river. Return ride is ~60 minutes.
When Fayette County, WV hosted the the 2019 World Scouting Jamboree we found our favorite way to make use of the 10,000 acre Summit Bechtel Reserve... bird it! The scouts call it home for the next 100 years and you'll see why they're excited. We'll hit some hot spots, including a lake, a gorgeous spot called "Garden Ground," the amazing Sustainability Treehouse, and a few other gems before heading back. We have had some exciting sightings, like the Golden-winged Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and oriels. We're hoping for a Swainson's Warbler to make this the trifecta of trips!
*The initial ride is ~30 minutes. We’re in and out of the bus with minimum walking between stops. Return ride is ~30 minutes.
Wolf Creek & Rail Trail
Voted #1 Birdwatching Spot in Best of the Blue Ridge: 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, Wolf Creek Park's Wetlands Boardwalk and Woodland Trails usually offers great views of many birds including Blue-winged Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and diverse plant life. The site is an outdoor classroom, active research station and bird banding site since 2009. Then, over to the White Oak Rail Trail that offers biodiversity due to a school complex, creek bed, and small town environment. This is an easy and usually wonderfully birdy field trip.
*The initial ride is ~20 minutes. This is usually a two stop bus ride moderate amount of easy walking on mostly level terrain, including woodland paths, a boardwalk, and paved rail trail. Return ride is ~20 minutes.