Pilot Mountain State Park
This pre-mountain gem is part of the N.C. Birding Trail and is located north of Winston-Salem, about 20 miles out on US 52. There are restrooms, picnic areas, camping and hiking trails. Drive to the top and take the trail to Little Pinnacle overlook. It is the site of fall hawk watches and has a commanding view of the surrounding area. Hawks, vultures and Common Raven make their home on Pilot. A southern section is located along the Yadkin River, and there is a seven-mile connecting trail. To drive there, follow the signs from U.S. 52 to Horne Farm. Bald Eagles have nested near the southeast corner of the park since 2006. Ospreys, herons and cormorants also may be seen on the river.
Hanging Rock State Park
Also north of Winston-Salem and part of the N.C. Birding Trail, this park is about 25 miles from town on State Road 8 through Danbury. Golden Eagle have been spotted off Moore's Knob Overlook. Peregrine Falcons have nested at the Knob. Several warblers nest in the park, including Hooded, Black-throated Green, Black- and White and Worm-eating. Good trails, picnicking, hiking, camping, cabins and a lake with beach.
Stone Mountain State Park
Good trails, camping, trout fishing and some excellent habitat for stream loving birds. If you're looking for Louisiana Waterthrush, Swainson's Warbler and Ruffed Grouse, make the worthwhile trip to Stone Mountain, near Roaring Gap.
South Mountains State Park
Same description fits South Mountains, North Carolina’s largest state park. The park is south of Morganton about 110 miles from Winston-Salem. The same birds can be found there, and Acadian Flycatchers are common.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The nearest entrance to this birder's paradise is only 52 miles west of Winston-Salem. Take NC 67 toward Elkin, jog off on I-77 north for a mile or so, take the US 21 exit and the Parkway entrance will be about 22 miles at Cherry Lane. A short distance south at Milepost 235, you will find Mahogany Rock where there is a fall watch for migrating Broad-winged Hawks and other raptors. Travel to Milepost 240 and you can explore Doughton Park, which has several trails along the ridgeline and down to Longbottom Rd. Julian Price Park at Milepost 297 has a picnic area, a lake and a long loop trail. Check the high meadow on the trail for Alder Flycatcher. Travel north to Mielpost 220 and you will find Cumberland Knob at the Virginia border. The entire length of the parkway is known for its warblers, including Cerulean and Canada Warbler. Other breeding birds include Winter Wren, Least Flycatcher and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Boone's Cave County Park
Located on the Yadkin River, this Davidson County Park is reached from Forsyth County by driving south on State Road 150 to Churchland, turning right onto Boone’s Cave Road and driving to the end of the road. Most of the park is bottomland forest, and is a breeding home for Kentucky Warblers, Northern Parulas, Ovenbirds and Louisiana Waterthrush, among others. The native wildflower trail is spectacular in spring.
Pronounced Bellues, it is the cooling lake for a Duke Power Company steam generating plant. Take US 158 north 16 miles, left at the light and 6.7 miles on NC 65, turn right on Pine Hall Road and go 4 miles to entrance. Check the pond for winter ducks.
One reason to check the Greensboro Lakes is to find the Bald Eagle nest at Lake Higgins. Note: open your map, find Lake Brandt Road off NC 150 (East of 220), drive to the marina and check for Osprey on the power towers. Then, off 220 as you cross Lake Brandt, take Hamburg Mill Road to Lake Higgins Marina for the Bald Eagle nest (scope a must). In recent years, these lakes have been visited by such rarities as Pacific Loon, Harlequin Duck and Western Grebe.
Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge
This is the nearest place for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. It is 90 miles south on US 52, three miles past Ansonville. There is a kiosk near the ranger station and Wildlife Drive continues on past good sparrow fields, a pound, and then impoundments. A trail through the woods leads to a large wooden blind.
Walnut Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant
The plant has created a wetlant unique to North Carolina for waste treatment through natural processes and few chemicals. Two large ponds invite wintering ducks, and serpentine cattail ponds support species such as Red-winged Blackbird, Song and Swamp Sparrow, herons, rails, et al. Surrounding habitat offer habitat for raptors, woodpeckers and songbirds. Birders are welcome at any time. Call 336-591-4809 to make sure the gate is open, but you also can park by the road and walk in. One mile north of the NC 65/US 311 intersection, turn onto Oldtown Rd. and proceed 0.4 miles.
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
The preserve is about 125 miles southeast of Winston-Salem on Fort Bragg Road in Southern Pines. Notable year-round residents are the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman's Sparrow, although the latter is more easily found in the nearby Sandhills Game Lands. Nesters also include Kentucky Warbler, Summer Tanager and Great-crested Flycatcher. A Visitor's Center has programs and nature displays. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nested in nearby Hobby Field in 2006 and 2007.
This is a Winston-Salem City Park located off of Waterworks Rd. From downtown, take US 311N, turn right on Waterworks, then take the first left. This small lake is a good winter stop for ducks and woodland birds, such as nuthatches, woodpeckers, juncos, kinglets and sparrows. The habitat may be good for waterthrush in migration. Nearby are Winston Lakes Golf Course, the Bowen Branch Greenway, and the Newell-Massey Trail, which connects to the Brushy Fork Greenway. Ultimately, this greenway will connect to the Salem Lake Trail.