Valle Crucis is a great place for a relaxing bird walk. Situated along the Watauga River, the park has a paved walking trail with the river on one side and streams and marshes on the other. The trail turns to dirt as it meanders through tall fields of grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers that are great for sparrows and other grassland birds.
Valle Crucis Community Park (2 miles - easy)
Green Knob Trail (2.5 miles - moderate)
The Green Knob Trail is on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Moses Cone and Julian Price Parks. It takes you from Sims Pond, along a a creek past huge hemlock trees and up to a beautiful pasture. It then goes back into the woods and ends in a stunning meadow full of tall grass and wildflowers. The variety of habitats makes this a wonderful hike and a great place for a wide range of birds.
The Half-Day Hebron Falls Tour leaves from the same location, and can be combined with this tour for a Full-Day Tour.
Trout Lake (2.5 miles - easy)
Trout Lake is the place to go for warblers in the Spring and Fall. The easy trail around the lake passes through a great mix of grassy wetlands, mixed hardwoods, pine forests, and several streams that all attract warblers and other songbirds.
This tour can be combined with a hike to Moses Cone Manor and Bass Lake to make a Full-Day Tour.
Lees-MacRae Field Station (1.5 miles - easy)
The Field Station is one of the hidden treasures of the High Country. The land is situated in the flood plain of the Elk River, so it is full of marshy fields and tall grasses that so many birds love. The fields and river are surrounded by rhododenrons, pines, and hardwoods, so this relatively small area has a remarkable variety of habitats. While it is open to the public, it is usually deserted.
Banner Elk Mill Pond (1.5 miles - easy)
The Mill Pond is another hidden birding hot spot. The pond itself is good for waterfowl, including some rare winter visitors. From there we take a dirt path along the creek, through fields of wildflowers to a network of trails that wander through the wooded hillside. The combination of woods, fields, and water make this a great spot for warblers and sparrows.