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UVa-Wise Wetlands Interpretive Trail

Short (0.5-mile roundtrip) educational trail providing an overview of a constructed wetland system in Wise, Virginia.
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.2 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview :  The UVa-Wise Wetlands Interpretive Trail provides an overview of a constructed wetland site alongside a mixed hardwood forest on the... more »

Tips:  To reach the trailhead, enter the UVa-Wise campus at its main entrance and follow Virginia SR 382 through campus to a small parking... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead and Informational Kiosk

Start of trail and source of information on the history of the area, local ecology, and wildlife.

2. Interpretive Sign (Coal Mining History)

Provides an overview of the historical mining activities at this site and in the southern Appalachians, at large.

3. Footbridge

Located down a short spur from the main trail. Provides access to the west side of the wetlands complex.

4. Bench and wetlands observation point

This vantage point provides a view of a settling pool designed to capture sediment and contaminated water draining from an abandoned coal mine on the UVa-Wise campus. This serves as a natural pollution filter for degraded waterways, as well as a habitat for wildlife.

5. Coal Portal

Mine portals, such as the one located directly to the right of the trailbed, were made to get house coal for early buildings on the Wise County Poor Farm (now the UVa-Wise campus). Although small relative to modern mine sites, these portals are believed to represent the earliest mining activities in the immediate area. Deep coal mines opened in... More

6. Multiflora Rose

To the right of the trailbed, an invasive species (multiflora rose) is visible covering the forest floor. This species is non-native to Virginia and was widely planted following coal mining as a method for restoring ground cover. However, this species easily outcompetes native plants and eliminates the vegetation structure common to southwest... More

7. Inlet stream

The official trail terminates just beyond the crossing of a small headwater stream which drains the abandoned surface mine covering the rear portion of the UVa-Wise campus. This stream is a major input of mine drainage to the wetland complex and often runs red to brown in color due to high levels of acidic and iron-containing runoff from exposed... More