Towering 5,946 feet above northwestern NC, Grandfather Mountain is one of the world's most environmentally diverse nature preserves. Biologically speaking, the mountain is actually an island. When the ice cap retreated, northern species clung to its higher elevations, while southern species regarded the neighborhood as a northern boundary. Dramatic variations in elevation, topography, soils, weather and climate create conditions that support 16 distinct natural communities that are home to 73 rare and endangered species, including 32 that are globally imperiled. At least 200 species of birds have been recorded here. Birding highlights can include Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian and Black-and-white Warblers, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Veery, Brown Creeper, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanager and Golden-crowned Kinglet. The most convenient place to see birds is on the feeders outside the windows of the Nature Museum, but for the greatest variety of species consider the Profile Trail. The path gains 1,500 feet over 3 miles, taking birders through seven different ecological communities on its way to the ridge. Each habitat type supports different bird species, making this one of the best birding trails in the Southern Appalachians.
Species of Interest (Full Bird List)
Peregrine Falcon, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Red Crossbill, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hermit Thrush, Blackburnian Warbler
spruce-fir forest, northern hardwood/cove forest, rocky outcrop, heath bald, early successional
Access and Parking
There is no fee required to access to Grandfather Mountain State Park via the Profile Trail off NC 105 or via the Daniel Boone Scout Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway. http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/grmo/main.php
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain travel attraction is open year-round. One ticket price (Adults $18, Seniors $15, Child $8) covers access to the entire mountain for the day, including 12 miles of trails in Grandfather Mountain State Park. Seasonal hours are: Spring - 9am to 6pm; Summer - 8am to 7pm; Fall - 9am to 6pm; Winter - 9am to 5pm. Ticket sales end one hour before closing. Prices are subject to change; check the Website for details. www.grandfather.com.
From Linville, travel north on US 221 for 2 miles. The entrance to Grandfather Mountain is on the left, 1 mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 305.
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