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Grandfather Mountain State Park opens the mountain's 2,456-acre backcountry to spectacular hiking and birding. Grandfather Mountain, at 5,946
feet (1,812 m), is the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue
path along the Blue Ridge Escarpment wilderness, originates at Table Rock SP.
Join fellow birders for the Great Backyard Bird Count
in February and the Hawk Watch program each fall.
WHERE TO STAY: Table Rock SP offers one-, two-, and
three-bedroom cabins; trailside tent camping; primitive
group tent camping; 69-site camping area near the entrance and additional 25-site camping area with water,
electrical hookup, and picnic table (some accommodations for RVs up to 40 feet); and a primitive walk-in
camping area with central water.
MUST-SEE: Come to Table Rock SP on the second Saturday of each month for the "Music on the Mountain"
table rock state Park
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), part
of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Program,
3,083-acre Table Rock SP is a top choice for mountain
birding. With mixed pine and hardwood forests, extensive gneiss cliffs and outcroppings, streams and two manmade lakes, this is a birder favorite.
LIFE LISTERS: Peregrine Falcon (reintroduced in 1989
and successfully nesting each year in 1800- to 2800-foot
cliffs) / Brown-headed Nuthatch / Dark-eyed Junco /
Blackburnian Warbler / Chestnut-sided Warbler / Blackand-white Warbler / Worm-eating Warbler / Hooded
Warbler / Swainson's Warbler / Black-throated Green
Warbler / Black-throated Blue Warbler / Solitary Vireo
/ Scarlet Tanager / Red Crossbill / Wild Turkey / Broadwinged, Cooper's, and Sharp-shinned Hawks (fall migration) / Osprey and American Kestrel (fall migration)
BIRD TRAILS: Six main and connector park trails ranging in difficulty from easy to very strenuous. All well
maintained, marked and rich with views and wildlife.
You might even see black bear and gray fox.
The trailhead for the Foothills Trail, an 80-mile-long
GorGes state Park
This 7,500-acre park has a fascinating history of a broken dam, the Singer Sewing Machine Company, and a
spot on the N.C. Registry of Natural Heritage Areas for its
abundance of rare species. Be sure to visit the museumquality visitor center on the way to plunging waterfalls,
soaring vertical rock walls and breathtaking river gorges.
LIFE LISTERS: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (most critical
nesting area in the Southern Appalachians) / Black-throated Blue Warbler / Golden-winged Warbler / Rose-breasted
Grosbeak / Ruffed Grouse / Winter Wren / Red-breasted
Nuthatch / Ovenbird / Golden-crowned Kinglet
BIRD TRAILS: The most popular trail is the Gorges SP
portion of the Foothills Trail, a 76-mile National Recreation Trail winding through North and South Carolina.
Nine other named trails offer access to woodland strolls
for beginners, sweeping vistas, boardwalks, suspension
bridges, picnic areas, primitive campsites, strenuous journeys with water crossings and powerful waterfalls, and
abandoned lime kilns from the 1800s.
WHERE TO STAY: Gorges SP is known for its spectacular
primitive camping backpack sites throughout the park.
There are various amenities at each location. For other
accommodations, consider a stay in nearby Sapphire,
North, Carolina, or various cabin and chalet rentals in
close proximity to the park.
MUST-SEE: Bearwallow Creek waterfall cascades with
mountain water and mist has an easily accessible overlook platform from the Bearwallow Picnic Area parking
lot. Follow the trail marked with blue circles, and enjoy
benches along the way.
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