Where are some good locations to bird in the Mad River Valley?
A rural community with lakes, streams, farms, valleys, meadows and mountains, the Mad River Valley offers numerous and varied locales for fine birding. Here are a few favorite places frequented by resident and migratory birders alike.
A note of caution: Despite the slow pace of the country lifestyle, our dirt roads are well traveled, so expect to see other cars and make sure you and your vehicle are located safely on the shoulder of the road.
Ward Hill Road
Terrain- A dirt road that connects to Dowsville Road by an unimproved road that may be traveled on foot passing through open areas, woodlands and open waters.
Birds – Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hermit Thrush, Ovenbird.
Directions – Start at the intersection of Routes 100 and 100B (just south of Moretown) Drive north on Route 100B about 1/2 mile and turn left on Ward Hill Road. Stay right at intersection and continue 3 miles. Park at the red gate and walk straight down the road.
Pony Farm Road
Terrain- A mix of habitats including woodlands, meadows, farmlands and oxbows of the Mad River.
Birds – Eastern Meadowlark, Killdeer, American Pipit
Directions – Heading south out of Moretown Village Pony Farm Road veers sharply left up a steep hill and later turns into the North Road heading toward Warren.
Center Fayston Road
Terrain- A mix of habitats predominantly woodlands with some meadows, small beaver ponds and wetlands.
Birds – American Kestrel, Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Evening Grosbeak, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Song Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Golden Crowned Kinglet.
Directions – North of Waitsfield on Route 100, Center Fayston Road is a marked dirt road that heads up a steep hill to the west for about 4 miles. To make a loop, turn left on Kew Vasseur Road just before you have gone 3 miles and then bear left 1.5 miles later on Bragg Hill Road…which descends to Route 100 in Waitsfield.
Mad River Greenway-West
Terrain- A flat unpaved, and often muddy foot path along the Mad River that includes wetlands, shrubby thicket/edge and grassland habitats.
Birds – American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Warbling and Red Eyed Vireos, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested and Willow Flycatchers, Osprey, Bobolink, Indigo Bunting, Veery, Catbird, Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher are among the over sixty migrated and nesting species recorded for this location.
Directions – Parking lot with access to the path is located at Meadow Road, which is north of Waitsfield, off Route 100 near Small Dog Electronics. Walk south on the west side of the Mad River. Please obey path rules.
There are many other sections of Mad River Path that are great for birding. Check out the possibilities at http://www.madriverpath.com/maps-madriver.php.
Senor Road to Fuller Hill Road
Terrain- Dirt roads bordered by grasslands, shrubby thickets and farmlands.
Birds – Willow Flycatcher, Bobolink, Chipping, and Savannah Sparrows, Various Swallows, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Black-Throated Blue and Black-Throated Green Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Indigo Bunting and Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks.
Directions – Start at the intersection of East Warren Road and Roxbury Mountain Road and drive east, taking the first right on Senor Road. Park and walk 1/2 mile to Poor Farm Road. Or continue driving south and turn right on Fuller Hill Road. About 1/2 mile up Fuller Road stop to explore trails marked in Blue.
Terrain- Lakeside edges and a woodland trail that follows a brook at the dam outlet.
Birds – Many species of migrating waterfowl seen during Spring and Fall including Loons, Mergansers, Scoters and Long-Tailed Ducks. Also American Redstart, Northern Parula and Magnolia Warbler.
Directions – From East Warren Road turn onto Plunkton Road and continue to Blueberry Lake. Park at north or south end of the lake.
Sherman Road / Bowen Road/Scrag Town Forest
Terrain- An out and back walking trail through woodlands, grasslands and farmlands.
Birds – Many species of warblers, vireos, woodpeckers, and thrushes as well as Eastern Bluebird, Killdeer, Bobolink, and American Kestrel.
Directions – From 100 in Waitsfield, take Bridge Street through the Covered Bridge which then turns into East Warren Road. At about 4 miles take a sharp left on Sherman Road and park on the side of the road. Walk along Sherman Road until you come to Bowen Road. Fields, farm pond, mixed woods. There is now a parking lot at the end of Bowen Rd and access to Scrag Town Forest. Beautiful hike along a brook to beaver ponds at the top of the Northfield Ridge. Hardwood forest.
Lincoln Gap Road
Terrain- A steep mountain road, first paved, then dirt, which at its highest point, Lincoln Gap, gives access to Vermont’s Long Trail. The 2.2 mile roundtrip trail to the south, though initially steep, becomes easier, and promises a great view to the west from Sunset Rock. The northerly trail affords a longer more strenuous 5.2 mile roundtrip climb to the summit of Mount Abraham.
Birds – Higher elevation birds like Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Blackpoll, Magnolia, Nashville and Yellow Rumped Warblers. Swainson’s Thrush and the elusive Bicknell Thrush. Turkey vultures, Red-Tailed, Broad-winged, and Cooper’s Hawks and occasionally the Peregrine Falcon.
Directions – From Route 100 just opposite the town of Warren, take Lincoln Gap Road west. The trailhead is 3.7 miles up from Route 100.