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Black Mountains


The Black Mountains are the highest mountain range in the eastern US. The habitat and climate are well-suited for many species more typically found in Canada and the northern US. Red spruce and Fraser fir dominate the landscape, and wildflowers abound along the trails from May through September. From Balsam Gap, at Milepost 360 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, select from two fine trails: Big Butt and Mountains-to-Sea. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Canada and Blackburnian Warblers are common on these trails from May through September. Flocks of Pine Siskin and Red Crossbill also occasionally stop to feed in the conifers. In April and May, listen for the drumming of Ruffed Grouse in the morning and the call of the Northern Saw-whet Owl in the evening. At the southernmost extension of its range, listen for singing Swainson's Thrush down-slope along the 5-mile section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, from Balsam Gap to NC 128 in Mount Mitchell State Park. Balsam Gap can also be an excellent location for fall migrants in September and early October. Another interesting and similar trail to explore, the Bald Knob Ridge Trail, begins at Milepost 355 and ends about 1 mile west of the Parkway, on FR 472.

Species of Interest (Full Bird List)

Ruffed Grouse, Brown Creeper, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin


spruce-fir forest, northern hardwood/cove forest, early successional

Special Features/Concerns

Sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are often closed during the winter months due to snow and ice. Other temporary closures may occur following storms as a result of hazardous road conditions. It is best to check our website to get current road conditions (http://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm). The use of tapes to attract birds is prohibited.

Access and Parking

The site is open daily, except during Parkway closures. Parking is available at designated overlooks. Directions: Access the


Access the Blue Ridge Parkway from one of the several access points in Asheville and head north to Milepost 360 at Balsam Gap Overlook.

Google Directions

Delorme Gazetteer Page


Bird List

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