Local Birding Sites
Asheville, NC is lucky to be surrounded by some excellent local birdwatching sites. Many can be visited in a couple of hours while others are best enjoyed for a full day.
The following list should help you make some decisions with whatever time you have. We carry an excellent selection of field guides and bird finding books for our area.
10 Great Birding Places around Asheville, NC
1. Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville north to Mt Mitchell
Just a few minutes from my front door, I like to drive higher and higher in elevation from Asheville high into the Blue Ridge and eventually up to Mt Mitchell. Red-breasted NuthatchEvery season is different and the birding can be terrific from spring through late fall. If I missed spring in Asheville, I am bound to catch both the wildflowers and the birds as I climb into the Spruce-Fir zone high atop the peaks.
2. Jackson Park, Hendersonville
Jackson Park in Hendersonville is one of my favorite spring and fall birding spots. Since we started the regular birdwalks over 10 years ago, it has become a birders favorite. Nearly every migrating songbird in the east has been recorded here, with as many as 23 warblers recorded in a single day! Seldom seen on migration in this area, we have found both Connecticut and Mourning Warblers in the park.
Jackson Park bird walks are very popular and are held throughout the year. They meet in front of the Henderson County Parks and Administration building in Jackson Park and are held on the second Saturday of every month. Times are from 9 AM - 11 AM from October to May and from 8 AM - 10 AM from June to September.
Directions: Jackson Park is located near downtown HendersoChestnut-sided Warblernville and is easy to access off I-26.
From I-26 Eastbound: Take U.S. 64 West exit (Exit # 18 B ) towards downtown Hendersonville . Continue through the traffic light at end of exit ramp onto 4 Seasons Boulevard (U.S. 64) for 1.6 miles (passing 4 more traffic lights). After a wetland area on the left, turn LEFT at the 5th traffic light (Harris Street). Go 0.2 mile to STOP sign at end of street. Turn LEFT onto E. 4th Avenue, enter park and follow road to Administration Building (red-brick house on left) and parking.
3. Stecoah Gap, Robbinsville, Graham County
A friend took me to Stecoah Gap about 10 years ago- birds were everywhere- we have been returning every year since then. This is now one of our favorite warbler spots in the spring and a must-do every year! An easy walk along an old logging road will provide great views of recently arrived breeding warblers, vireos, tanagers, and other birds, as well as crisp, newly-emerged butterflies and many wildflowers. www.snowbirdlodge.com
4. Blue Ridge Parkway south towards Shining Rock/Black Balsam (includes NC Arboretum)
Black Balsam, Devil’s Courthouse and the Blue Ridge south towards Waynesville offers some fine birding, although it’s hard to drag myself away from points along the BRP heading north. Northern Saw-whet Owls are easy to hear in the northern hardwoods zone and if I want to see an Alder Flycatcher, it’s off to Black Balsam/Shining Rock for me. Plus the evening chorus of Veerys is truly evocative of the Blue Ridge.
5. Chimney Rock Park, Chimney Rock
Have you ever seen the elusive Swainson’s Warbler? If not, they are regularly found in the rhododendron tangles in Chimney Rock Park. Join one of our regularly scheduled Chimney Rock Park birdwalks during the summer months as warblers are the big attraction with the Black-throated Green Warbler being the most common and obvious species. Within the cove-forest and associated oak-hickory woodland, there are also many Hooded, Black-and-white, and Worm-eating Warblers. Swainson’s Warblers are fairly common in the dense rhododendron thickets, while a pair of Peregrine Falcons is usually present in Hickory Nut Gorge and has nested within the park. www.chimneyrockpark.com
6. Cherohala Skyway, Graham County
I have driven this in both the spring and the fall- magnolia blossoms dot the hillsides in April and May and the birding is superb. Thrushes, vireos and many warblers migrate along this spectacular ridge in Graham County, NC and make this one of the prettiest drives in the southeast. http.www.snowbirdmountainlodge.com
7. Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, Asheville
Just 5 minutes north of downtown Asheville, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is a haven from the traffic noise and daily hubbub. We hold bird walks on the first Saturday of every month throughout the year. Meet at the gazebo at the sanctuary on Merrimon Avenue for a very pleasant insight into the seasonal birding in this area.
The equally popular Beaver Lake bird walks are held throughout the year. They meet at the gazebo at the sanctuary on Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville and are held on the first Saturday of every month. Times are from 9 AM - 11 AM from October to May and from 8 AM - 10 AM from June to September.
Directions to Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary (The Sanctuary is open from dawn until 30 minutes after sunset):
From downtown Asheville, follow Merrimon Avenue (US 25) north for about two miles. After you see an Ingle's supermarket on your right, begin watching for the Sanctuary on your left. After you pass the new North Asheville Public Library, you will see stone pillars at a pair of driveways leading to the Sanctuary parking lot.
From US 19/23 north of Asheville: Exit at the Merrimon Avenue. http://emasnc.org/index.html
8. Fletcher Community Park, Fletcher
Right in the heart of Fletcher is another great little birding spot. It’s odd being surrounded by ball-fields and dogs, but the small wetland has breeding Willow Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler. I always enjoy walking the edges and Greenway here.
9. Pacolet River Valley, Tryon, NC/Landrum, SC
One of my old stomping grounds when I lived south of Asheville, the Pacolet River runs through woodland and agricultural fields in a very picturesque valley near Landrum, SC and Tryon, NC. Rolling fields, scattered woodlots and riverine brush hold good numbers of both resident and wintering species and the open country habitat dictates the varied bird population of the area. Sparrows, such as White-crowned, Lincoln’s, Swamp and Vesper are common and a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes is resident in the farmlands. This is a bucolic walk with some great field and edge birding.
10. Mill River Farmlands, NC
Over the years, this area just south of the Asheville Airport has produced some wonderful birds. From Sandhill Cranes to Lapland Longspurs, fall and winter birding can be cold but very productive. The sparrow selection can be excellent with up to 8 species being possible in the fall.