Snickers Gap - 10 Things to Know Before Visiting

Mountain Peaks


About Snickers Gap

Snickers Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountain on the border of Loudoun County and Clarke County in Virginia. During the autumn bird migration, the gap is a favoured spot for birdwatchers to count and study the many raptors that follow the ridge on their way south.

Hotels near Snickers Gap

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Things to Do at Snickers Gap

At 1,056 feet (322 m) the gap is approximately 300 to 600 feet (91 to 183 m) below the adjacent ridge line and 400 to 600 feet (120 to 180 m) above the surrounding countryside.Snickers Gap is one of the lowest wind gaps of the ridge in Virginia due to the reducing height of the Blue Ridge as it approaches the Potomac River.

The gap provides year-round access to ridge-top deciduous forest. It is a good stopping place to look for woodland birds such as pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers, cedar waxwing, and the occasional ruffed grouse or wild turkey.

The area is also popular for its numrous hiking trails, one of it is to the Raven Rocks. The 3,540 kilometres long Appalachian Trail also passes through Snickers Gap with a stop at the Snickers Gap.

From September 14 to 21, thousands of migrating birds of prey migrate through Snickers Gap. The area is an established hawk watching site since 1990 and since then counts have taken place in every autumn.

The most common species seen during the migration is the broad-winged hawk. Depending on weather conditions, 1000s or 10,000s of them migrate through here. Other species frequenting the area include red-tailed, sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, northern harrier , osprey, bald eagle, American kestrel, merlin, and peregrine falcon.

Each fall supports the opportunity to see a few rarities, especially later in the season. Golden eagle and northern goshawk have appeared annually, and rough-legged and Swainsons hawks on extreme rare occassions.

Many other species also use the ridge top as a migration corridor, including migrant passerines such as warblers, vireos, thrushes and tanagers and, occasionally, migrant waterfowl. Monarch butterflies and dragonflies also migrate along the ridge, providing food for the migrating American kestrels and broad-winged hawks.

Birds that are recently spotted at Snickers Gap

Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Activities Around

History of Snickers Gap

Snickers Gap has been a major thoroughfare between the Piedmont and the Shenandoah Valley even before the European colonization of the area. Native Americans originally cut a trail through the gap that continued to be used by white settlers. The gap was known as Williams' Gap until the early 1780s by the European colonists.

The gap derived its name from Edward Snickers, who owned the gap and surrounding land and operated a ferry across the Shenandoah River on the western side of the gap.

By the late 18th century, two Turnpikes- the Snickersville Turnpike and the Snickers Gap Turnpike were completed. Snickers Gap then became the main thoroughfare between Loudoun County and the Shenandoah, bypassing Keyes Gap, which to that point had been the preferred route.

The two turnpikes joined at Snickersville (present-day Bluemont) and then proceeded over the gap to Winchester. The toll at the gap persisted well into the 20th century. The Snickers Gap turnpike was eventually made into Virginia State Route 7, and the toll was dropped.

The gap was the scene of many small American Civil War skirmishes, and part of the Battle of Cool Spring (sometimes referred to as the "Battle of Snicker's Gap") took place there.

Best Time to Visit Snickers Gap

Snicker’s Gap is at its best in autumn, from September 14 to 21. Thousands of migrating birds of prey stream past overhead through the gap.

Tips for Visiting Snickers Gap

  • Keep a lookout on the hawk count website to see exactly when the migrations are happening.
  • Bring some hiking gear as well. There are numerous trails available in the area.

Interesting Facts and Trivias About Snickers Gap

  1. Snickers Gap was originally called William's Gap until the 1780s. The new name was derived from Edward Snickers, who owned the gap and surrounding land. He also operated a ferry across the Shenandoah River on the western side of the gap.
  2. The 3,540 kilometres long Appalachian Trail that passes through 14 states also passes through Snickers Gap.
  3. Snickers Gap is one of the lowest wind gaps of the ridge in Virginia.
  4. A toll gate existed at Snickers Gap well into the 20th century.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Snickers Gap

Snickers Gap is popular for its bird watching opportunity during autumn migration of the hawks. It is recomended to camp there from September 14 to 21 to see the natural phenomina. For the exact timing of the migrations, you can refer to the hawk count website. If you are not visiting for bird watching, there are numerous hiking trails in the area that you can do in half a day to one day.

How to Reach Snickers Gap

From Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area, travel west on Virginia Route 7 to the intersection with Virginia Route 601. There is a public commuter parking lot available at Snickers Gap. From Winchester, travel east on Route 7 to the intersection with Route 601.

Entrance Fee of Snickers Gap

There is no fee to enter Snickers Gap.

Opening Hours of Snickers Gap

As there is a main road going throug Snickers Gap, it is open 24 hours daily.

Attractions Near Snickers Gap

Raven Rocks Trailhead

Raven Rocks Trailhead

0.62km from Snickers Gap

Raven Rocks are a spur of Blue Ridge Mountain. It is formed by the drainage gorges of Rocky Branch Creek to the north and Raven Rocks Creek to the south on the mountains western watershed. The formation is often referred to as the rollercoaster by Appalachian Trail hikers as the trail undulates between these spurs and hollows along the western face of the mountain along this stretch of the ridge.

Claiborne Lake

Claiborne Lake

14.32km from Snickers Gap

Claiborne Lake, located in Clarke County, Alabama, is a picturesque reservoir that offers a wide range of recreational activities and serves as a serene getaway for residents and visitors. This man-made lake, created by the Claiborne Lock and Dam on the Alabama River, provides opportunities for boating, fishing, wildlife observation, and outdoor relaxation.

National Sporting Library & Museum

National Sporting Library & Museum

18.91km from Snickers Gap

A research library and art museum in Middleburg, Virginia in the United States founded in 1954. It has collections that include over 20,000 books, periodicals, archives, and ephemera objects. Overall, the collection dates to the 16th century, with rare and antiquarian titles housed in the library's F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Oatlands Plantation Lane

Oatlands Plantation Lane

21.21km from Snickers Gap

Oatlands Plantation is an estate located in Leesburg, Virginia. operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. The Oatlands property is composed of the main mansion and 415 acres of farmland and gardens. The house is judged as one of the finest Federal period country estate houses in the nation.

Aldie Mill

Aldie Mill

23.51km from Snickers Gap

This is a water mill in Aldie, Virginia built shortly after 1804 to grind grain using the waters of the Little River. Retaining much of its original machinery, it is one of the best-preserved mills in Virginia.

Morven Park

Morven Park

23.69km from Snickers Gap

A 1,000-acre historic estate and horse park in Leesburg, Virginia. It is home to the Morven Park Mansion, the Winmill Carriage Museum, formal boxwood gardens, miles of hiking and riding trails, and athletic fields. The park is also home to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting of North America with displays of art, artifacts, and memorabilia about the sport of foxhunting.

Discover More Attractions in Loudoun County, Home of Snickers Gap

Loudoun County

Loudoun County

12 attractions

Located in the Commonwealth of Virginia and it is the third-most populous county in Virginia.

Location of Snickers Gap


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