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Big Bald Mountain

Site Directions: Exit Interstate 26 at the Wolf Laurel Exit ~25 miles north of Asheville, NC, or ~30 miles south of Johnson City, TN. Follow the signs to Wolf Laurel. Stop at the gate and tell them "you are helping with the bird project on Big Bald". Follow the main pavement road uphill to a 'T'. Turn left at 'T' on Big Bald road, and follow for ~3 miles uphill (will turn to gravel) to a big metal gate.
Big Bald Summit: Lat-Long: 35.99105, -82.49021
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: year round
Fees: none
Site Description: Big Bald is situated on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina on the Appalachian Trail. The habitat is a large tract of grassy bald, northern hardwoods, spruce-fir, and heath bald areas. The top 300 feet or so of elevation are completely devoid of trees and the surrounding areas contain good sources of fresh drinking water for migrants. There are species of animals and plants that are unique to habitats present here.

Wildlife to Watch:
Big Bald is a significant corridor for migrating birds, especially Neotropical migrants. Tens of thousands of birds use this area during migration periods and some for breeding. The most commonly observed breeding species included Blue-headed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Veery, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, and Indigo Bunting. At least five Tennessee listed species are detected. Sharp-shinned Hawk and Peregrine Falcon are common fall migrants. Northern Saw-whet Owl uses the bald in fall. Golden-winged Warblers do not nest on site but are found down slope on nearby Street Gap. On 7 September 2009, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was seen in the grassy bald, representing only the second record for the high elevations of east Tennessee!

Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.

For more information:

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Audubon Important Bird Area web page

Bird Banding on Big Bald

Cherokee National Forest

Article on the occurrence of Whimbrel on Big Bald Mountain

Submit your data to eBird and help us build a list of birds seen at this site

Be sure to check out our Safety Tips page for important information regarding viewing wildlife in these areas.