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Winter B (access limited)
Site Description and Habitats
The lowlands of Unaka Mountain contain oak-chestnut and mixed mesophytic forests including buckeye, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, beech and hemlock. As the elevation increases, blueberry and laurel are found. In the higher slopes beech-maple and spruce-fir communities dominate with grassy balds and rhododendron patches. Rock Creek Campground is typical of low elevations. At Beauty Spot, grassy balds are present. High elevation sites like Stamping Ground Ridge and the Unaka Mountain summit contain the evergreen forests. The Unaka Mountain Wilderness at 4,500' contains 4,496 acres.
Explore trails, creeks and rhododendron thickets, and any and all overlooks as the birds are wonderful and the views phenomenal. Traffic is usually very light, so sometimes just pulling over to the side of the road and birding can be excellent.
Bird species of interest
Spring and Fall Migration: Nearly all warblers, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers can be found in migration. Highlights include Palm, Blackpoll (spring only), Cape May, Bay-breasted Warblers,among others, Eastern Bluebirds and Dark-eyed Juncos move up to high elevations in spring. Broad-winged Hawk, Barn and Tree Swallow. In fall, Tennessee and Black-throated Blue Warblers and Swainson's Thrushes can be extremely abundant, along with large flocks of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.
Summer: Local breeders and many are unique to Unaka mountain and nearby Roan Mountain: Magnolia and Canada Warbler (local specialities), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Blue Warblers (common), Winter Wren, Chestnut-sided, Hooded, Worm-eating, Black-and-White, and Blackburnian Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Wood Thrush. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Appalachian mountain race) is very rare in Tennessee in summer, but occurs here with some effort (PLEASE report any sapsuckers in summer!).
Winter: Golden Eagles are in the area and may be flying around on sunny days, but the loop may be closed due to road conditions.
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Detailed directions for birding Unaka Mountain
Large RV's NOT recommended. Four-wheel drive may be needed in wet conditions.
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Fees and Hours
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