About the Basin: G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area

Thompson Wildlife Management Area

July 15, 2022

Markham, VA

Thompson WMA forest with a carpet of large-flowered trillium flowers.

Photo credit: Judy Gallagher, Large-flowered Trillium – Trillium grandiflorum, G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area, Linden, Virginia (Flickr)

Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, or Thompson WMA for short, is a gem of a recreational area in northwestern Fauquier County, Virginia. It is close enough for a day trip from the DC Metro area but far enough to make it feel a world away.

The highlight of Thompson WMA is the abundance of large-flowered trillium in the spring. Each spring, around Mother’s Day, the forest floor is carpeted with these showy, colorful flowers for as far as the eye can see. It’s not just the flowers that put on a show. The birds are in competition with the trillium for Best in Show. The stunning colors of birds like the cerulean warbler and scarlet tanager mix with the sights and sounds of a plethora of migrating and residential birds, creating a bird-watchers paradise. A Virginia Department of Wildlife Resource video, Trillium Bloom at Thompson WMA, shares some of the treasures you can find on a spring morning.

The Appalachian Trail runs through Thompson WMA along the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains. Various trails branch off the Appalachian, creating a network of rugged, but rewarding, hiking trails. The trails are multi-use, including equestrians, so don’t be surprised if you come upon a horse or two.

Dress in your finest orange attire during hunting season since this is a popular area for hunters. Deer are the most sought after, but turkey, woodcock, grouse, and other small game are possibilities.

Wildlife management areas are managed for wildlife and humans get the benefit. But that also means that there are few amenities, trails can be rugged, and roads can be rutted. Plan accordingly.

There are 11 designated parking areas throughout the WMA. Cell reception is spotty, so if you plan to meet a friend, make sure to agree on a specific parking area in advance.

Please make sure to follow the permitting requirements when utilizing public land. Anyone over the age of 17 requires an access permit to visit a Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources-owned wildlife management area. Hunting and fishing licenses are required for their respective activities. Additionally, there are special permitting requirements for camping in Virginia’s wildlife management areas.