Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 42
Grandfather Mountain State Park
With several mountain peaks reaching over 5,000 feet
into the sky, this area of North Carolina has the highest
elevations in the Blue Ridge. With an abundance of hardwood and spruce-fir forests, coves, balds, and rocky outcrops, Grandfather Mountain SP boasts the second highest breeding bird diversity (118 species) in the country.
LIFE LISTERS: Northern Saw-whet Owl (key conservation site) / Sharp-shinned Hawk / Cooper's Hawk / Ruffed
Grouse / Golden-crowned Kinglet / Yellow-bellied Sapsucker / Red-breasted Nuthatch / Brown Creeper / Canada Warbler / Warbling Vireo / Blue-headed Vireo / Blackthroated Green Warbler
BIRD TRAILS: With eight trails totaling 12 miles, be prepared for challenging hikes to see the upper elevations.
There are trail ladders and cables along the cliff edges and
chutes that require hand-over-hand. Several trails offer
views of Calloway Peak, the highest point in the Blue
Ridge Range. For beginners, several trails start with ease
and offer ample birding opportunities.
WHERE TO STAY: Grandfather Mountain SP offers 13
backpack campsites within the trail system. There are
various regulations about parking, campfires, water availability and other information depending on the location
of your site-check before you go. For hotel accommodations consider staying in Boone, Blowing Rock, or Linville, North Carolina.
MUST-SEE: Mile High Swinging Bridge: This 228-foot
bridge is the highest suspension footbridge in the country, and offers panoramic views from the mountain.
new river State Park
This 2,911-acre state park resides on the South Fork of
The New River Corridor watershed-considered the oldest river system in North America. Audubon classifies this
narrow floodplain and adjacent slopes (though altered by
development) as the best breeding area for warbling vireos and Baltimore orioles. Also, the first North Carolina
breeding record for the tree swallow was along this river.
LIFE LISTERS: Warbling Vireo / Baltimore Oriole / Northern Oriole / Orchard Oriole / Yellow-throated Vireo /
Blue-winged Warbler / Willow Flycatcher / Tree Swallow
/ Golden-winged Warbler / Yellow Warbler / Black-billed
Cuckoo / Willow Flycatcher / Least Flycatcher / Spotted
Sandpiper / Scarlet Tanager / American Goldfinch / Indigo Bunting / Osprey / Wild Turkey / Red-tailed Hawk
/ Wood Duck
BIRD TRAILS: Many of the 10 trails are accessible from
U.S. 221, less than 1.5 miles each, and rate as easy or
moderate. You can hike along the river's edge, through
mountain meadows, hardwood forests, and pine and
WHERE TO STAY: Three main camping areas total over
750 acres of space at this park. Amenities vary with location from hot-water showers and RV sites to walk-in/
canoe-in primitive campsites.
MUST-SEE: Consider birding on the water at New River
SP. This location is perfect for beginners with plenty of
outfitters and guides.
hiwaSSee ocoee Scenic river State Park
Located at the western edge of the southern Cherokee
National Forest, this park was the first member of Tennessee's State Scenic River program. Surrounding the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers, with Class I - V rapids, are mountains, gorges, and high elevation clearings. The latter are
visited by large numbers of fall migration song birds and
even breeding numbers of Canadian zone birds.
LIFE LISTERS: Sharp-shinned Hawk / Swainson's Warbler
The pileated woodpecker (left) is a possible life
lister at Rocky Fork and Cedar Creek state parks.
The wood duck (above) has a population at New
River State Park.