North Carolina county #48 Beacon Heights
My last stop this week was Beacon Heights in Avery County, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
There is a short but moderately steep trail that leads to the top of this peak, and also connects in with a lot of other trails. At the top, there is a fork in the trail, and I highly recommend checking both sides of the fork. Each one leads to a very large flat and sloped rock at the top of the mountain with fantastic views all around. You can sit and rest and even have a nice picnic. One side has a boulder on top of it which you could use as a makeshift table if needed.
I got a few warblers on this trip: Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, and Wood Thrush, but my favorite birds were at the top. I watched a Broad-winged Hawk fly around and heard him call repeatedly. As I sat and rested and enjoyed the beautiful day, I was startled by a large Raven that came to join me.
I am not sure what he was eating but he kept coming back for more of it. These guys are very large and intimidating up close and he was quite fearless, coming within 10 feet of me several times for his snack. Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology has a great (and apt) description on their website All About Birds (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/id): “Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak.”
I was also kept company by an Eastern Towhee and a single Dark-eyed Junco. The four of us hung around on the rock for a half hour or so until a young couple came and joined me, laughing at the antics of the Raven. I left them to enjoy the view and headed back down the mountain to make my way home for the day.
This was a great day out and three fun counties. This hike is well worth checking out and not very busy for the ease of access and views it affords.