Asheville Field Trip Descriptions
Some field trip descriptions have been updated as of April 17.
Updates are in red text.
Sunday, April 30|
Birding on your own|
Trips will be limited to a maximum of 15 participants and minimum of 6.
Please consider bringing adequate drinks and snacks on all morning trips in case there is not time for lunch before your afternoon trip; bring your lunch on day trips.
All trips except #1 and #2 depart from the Ramada. Gather with your leader in the meeting room.
- Trip 1 Curtis Creek Rd.
This well-maintained gravel road passes through a
beautiful cove forest of hemlock and rhododendron as it climbs along
Curtis Creek 11 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the perfect
setting for hearing and seeing Swainson's Warbler, as well as
Worm-eating, Hooded, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush,
and many others. Meet at the Stuckey's parking lot at exit 75, Parker
Padgett Rd, off I-40. Once reaching the Parkway, you will have the
option of returning to I-40 to continue to Asheville, or turning left
onto the Parkway and driving about 40 miles south on the Parkway to the
exit for Hwy 74, which connects with I-40. Restrooms: yes. Walking:
Update: - A bridge is out between the BRP and the
campground about 7 or 8 miles from I-40. So, everyone will have to return to
I-40 to get to Asheville instead of using the Parkway. This trip is full, and
will be divided into two groups.
- Trip 2, 6, 14, 26, 34 Jackson Park.
With a wide range of habitats, Jackson Park is one of the
finest passerine migration flyways in North Carolina. This is a good
place to see an outstanding selection of spring migrants. Birds found
here include warblers such as Golden-winged and Blue-winged, thrushes,
vireos, and flycatchers. This city park has easy walking on the Nature
Trail, Bottomland Trail, and the famous Warbler Trail. On Thursday,
meet at the Administration building parking lot. Directions: Exit 49-B
off I-26 onto Hwy 64 West (Four Seasons Blvd.) to Hendersonville. In
about 2 miles you will pass Four Seasons Marsh on the left, and turn
left at the next light onto Harris St. (look for the brown Jackson Park
sign at the light). Go straight through the 4-way stop, and when the
Harris St. dead ends at 4th St., turn left and proceed across the bridge
and up the hill to the Administration building parking lot on the left.
Restrooms: yes. Walking: mostly level. Roundtrip: approx. 45 miles.
Trip 2 is full and will be divided into two groups.
- Trip 9, 17, 29, 37 Hooper
Lane/Mills River Valley.
Expect shorebirds such as Least and
Solitary Sandpipers, both Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed
Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, and possibly late Upland Sandpipers.
The presence of these birds at Hooper Lane is strongly dependent on the
condition of the fields and the weather. Bobolinks and several sparrows
may be common in the fields. Along the river the trees and shrubs may
have early Willow Flycatchers and Blue Grosbeaks, plus warblers and
other passerines. Restrooms: at nearby gas station. Walking: level.
Round trip: approx. 36 miles.
- Trip 7, 15, 27, 35 Fletcher Park/Lake Julian.
Fletcher Park is a wonderful small city park
that lies in the French Broad River Valley. Several good birds have
been reported here, including Philadelphia Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler
and Baltimore Oriole. A small wetland has breeding Willow Flycatchers
and several freshwater species may also be seen here Lake Julian, a
Progress Energy Reservoir, is heated throughout the year which helps
bring migrating water birds. Even at the end of April there could be
some loons, ducks, geese, cormorants, terns, and gulls still around.
Restrooms: yes. Walking: level. Round trip: approx. 30 miles.
- Trip 10, 18, 30, 38 Beaver Lake Sanctuary/ Riverside Dr.
THIS TRIP WILL CONCENTRATE ON
IDENTIFYING AND LEARNING BIRD SONGS. The sanctuary's mix of woods,
marsh, and lake views, plus nearby open areas often yields a good mix of
birds. Warbling Vireo, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warbler,
Red-shouldered Hawk, and Brown-headed Nuthatch all breed in the area and
are frequently seen. The whole sanctuary is accessed by a raised
boardwalk. Nearby are a couple of small parks by the river that can be
good birding. Restrooms: at library nearby. Walking: level. Round
trip: approx. 18 miles.
- Trip 11, 19, 31, 39 WNC Arboretum/Bent Creek.
The Arboretum, part of Pisgah National
Forest, is a beautiful facility with formal and informal gardens,
wonderful stone buildings, and a superb outdoor bonsai exhibit. Easy
walking trails extend through many habitats, making it easy to observe
spring migrants, including a good selection of warblers, vireos and
thrushes, butterflies and wildflowers. Admission/parking is $6 per car
so carpooling is best. Restrooms: yes. Walking: level/ hills. Round
trip: approx. 16 miles.
- Trip 5, 13, 25, 33 Chimney Rock Park/Lake Lure.
Chimney Rock Park, a 1000 acre privately
owned park (admission $10 per person), has several trails through mixed
hardwood forests and rhododendron thickets. It is a great place for
Worm-eating, Swainson's, and Cerulean Warblers, and many other species,
including Peregrine Falcon. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is moderate but
easy to walk and is the best for birding. Most of the upper trails are
steeper, but there is an elevator to the top. Restrooms: yes.
Walking: level/steep stairs. Round trip: approx. 68 miles.
Update: - The park entrance fee is now $14 per person.
However, we have negotiated the group rate of $11.50.
Please have exact change or use a credit card.
This park, at low elevation, will definitely be one of the best trips of the weekend
in terms of quantity and quality of migrants. Trips 13 and 33 are canceled.
- Trip 4, 12, 24, 32 Craggy Gardens.
The Blue Ridge Parkway from Craven Gap, just north of
the Folk Art Center, to Bull Gap is one of the most reliable areas for
the much sought-after Cerulean Warbler. Of course, we will stop at
overlooks along the way for other warblers, such as Hooded, Blackburnian, Kentucky, and Ovenbird and other nesting/migrant species
including Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Blue-headed Vireo. The road up to
the picnic grounds has a wonderful array of wildflowers. Restrooms:
yes. Walking: limited level/hills. Round trip: approx. 50 miles.
Update: - Be aware the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed north of Mt. Mitchell to Hwy 80 from Marion.
Trip 32 will be divided into two groups.
- Trip 8, 16, 28, 36 Charles D. Owen Park/Warren Wilson.
The Swannanoa River flows through
this county park well-known to locals as a good birding spot. Both
Orchard and Baltimore Orioles and Yellow-throated Vireo nest along the
river. After an easy walk around a tree lined lake, we walk a short
distance to the farm fields of Warren Wilson College. Migrant
Blue-winged warblers have been seen the last few years, along with
typical farmland birds such as Yellow-breasted Chat, Northern Bobwhite,
and Grasshopper Sparrow. Restrooms: yes/Owen Park. Walking: level.
Round trip: approx. 36 miles.
- Trip 20, 40 Max Patch/Lake Junaluska.
If you want to see Golden-winged Warblers,
this is the trip for you! Generally 15-20 other warbler species may be
found, including Blackburnian, Canada and Chestnut-sided. Least
Flycatcher can be plentiful, along with Winter Wren, Veery,
Rose-breasted Grosbeak and other middle elevation species. The Lake
often has waterfowl surprises. Restrooms: no. Walking:
limited/level/hills. Round trip: approx. 75 miles.
- Trip 21 Heintooga/Oconaluftee/GSMNP
This is one of the highest sections of the
Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Parkway at Balsam Gap, the road climbs
towards Waterrock Knob, into northern hardwoods and spruce-fir forest
types. There are good spots for Least Flycatcher, Rose-breasted
Grosbeak and Veery along the way to Heintooga Road. This 9 mile spur
road continues to a parking area, where a short trail leads to one of
the most spectacular views in the mountains, a panorama of the Smoky
Mountain National Park with Mt LeConte at the center.
This is a dependable spot for Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted
Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and Blackburnian Warbler. The Oconaluftee
Visitor's Center grounds can have Bobolink, Summer Tanager, and
warblers. Restrooms: yes. Walking: limited/level/hills. Round Trip:
approx. 115 miles
Update: - The Heintooga Spur Rd is closed until mid-May.
An intern with GSMNP has been requested to meet our group, open the gate and accompany us on Heintooga.
However, no response yet from the Park.
If the road remains closed to us, the trip will either go to Purchase Knob or to Smokemont instead,
in addition to the southern part of BRP and Oconaluftee.
- Trip 22 Mt. Mitchell/Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway from Craven Gap,
just north of the Folk Art Center, to Bull Gap is one of the most
reliable areas for the much sought-after Cerulean Warbler. Of course,
we will stop at overlooks along the way for other warblers, such as
Hooded, Kentucky, and Ovenbird and other species including Yellow-billed
Cuckoo and Blue-headed Vireo. Then on to Mt. Mitchell in search of Red
Crossbill, Winter Wren, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush and other high
elevation birds. Restrooms: yes. Walking: limited/level/hills.
Round trip: approx. 60 miles.
- Trip 23 Cathey's Creek/Wagon Gap Rd.
The trip includes open pastures and
farmland where sparrows, meadowlarks, and raptors should be found.
Bobolinks and pipits are possible. We then travel up a gravel road
through Pisgah Nat'l. Forest along Cathey's Creek for warblers, vireos,
and thrushes. Black-throated Blues and Greens will be common. This
trip includes the Pisgah Fish Hatchery and the parking area for Looking
Glass Rock, which has a Peregrine Falcon aerie. Along Wagon Gap Rd.
there is good birding at Davidson River campground and the Cradle of
Forestry Visitor's Center. Restrooms: yes. Walking:
limited/level/hills. Round trip: approx 93 miles.
Update: - This trip will cover all the best birding areas on Hwy 276 (including the fish hatchery),
the BRP from 276 to Devil's Courthouse, and the BRP to Rosman along Hwy 215.
Cathey's Creek gravel road is so rutted and potholed it is unsafe for travel.
The forest service has it slated for improvements later this year.
- Trip 41 Mt. Pisgah/BRP.
This trip will stop at overlooks for migrants, such as
Canada, Black-throated Blue, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, as well as
Scarlet Tanager. The area around the Pisgah Inn is good for finding
Cedar Waxwing, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and perhaps a soaring Raven.
From there we will go south to Devil's Courthouse where Saw-Whet Owls
call at night. Then it's to Graveyard Fields for the birds and the
outstanding scenery. We will try for Ruffed Grouse near here. The
Black Balsam Forest Rd. leads to a parking area with Golden-winged
Warblers, Veerys, and Least Flycatchers (only in late May.) Restrooms:
yes. Walking: limited/level/hills. Round trip: approx. 90 miles.
Update: - Peregrines traditionally nest at Devil's Courthouse and can be seen from parking lot.
Correction: it is the ALDER Flycatcher, not Least, that nests on Black Balsam Rd and does not arrive until mid or late May.
- Trip 42 Cataloochee Valley/GSMNP.
THIS TRIP WILL CONCENTRATE ON BIRDS AND
BUTTERFLIES. Most visitors see Great Smoky Mountains National Park only
from the highway, as they traverse US 441 between Cherokee, NC and
Gatlinburg, TN or explore the Cades Cove loop road bumper-to-bumper.
There are other places to enjoy the park, however, without all the
traffic and the crowds. The Cataloochee Valley is one of these,
surrounded by 6000" peaks. Cataloochee was a settled valley, much like
Cade's Cove, and several historic structures remain. We will combine
roadside birding with short hikes, enjoying the birds, butterflies,
spring wildflowers, possible elk, and the always inspiring scenery of
the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains. Restrooms: yes/campground.
Walking: level/hills. Round trip: approx. 90 miles.
An extensive number of warblers and other migrants, including Blackpoll and Cape May, should be seen on this trip, in addition to the great natural beauty. Leader is Simon Thompson.
- Trip 43 Dillingham/Douglas Falls.
THIS TRIP WILL CONCENTRATE ON WILDFLOWERS AND
BIRDS. This area of the Craggy Mountains is a haven for warblers and,
at the upper end, high elevation breeding birds. Expect a wide variety
of warblers along the various elevations (2500 to over 5000 feet)
including numerous Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Black-and-white,
Black-throated Blue, Canada, and Chestnut-sided along with Northern
Parula, plenty of Ovenbirds, and many others along the road up to the
top. The upper elevations should produce singing Winter Wren,
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and
perhaps patrolling Ravens and drumming Ruffed Grouse. Over 50 species
of spring wildflowers are easily seen. Restrooms: no. Walking:
limited/level/hills. Round trip: approx. 70 miles.
- Trip 3 Introduction to Asheville Brew Pubs.
Asheville now has five
micro-breweries making fine craft beers, the most in NC. They are
Highland, Green Man, French Broad, Asheville Pizza, and Pisgah. One can
sample drafts of four of these excellent beers downtown at different
establishments. The fifth is new, but by the meeting may be available
as well. If you are a beer lover who appreciates micro-brews, you will
appreciate the quality of these. Small samples and food are served at
all the pubs. If you plan to drink more than a total of two pints, who
will be required to have a designated driver! [Yes, the two Asheville
CBC members who are beer lovers (guess who) thought this one up, but
neither is available to lead this outing!]