Common loons sometimes visit during the winter and can be seen on Norris Lake. The trails are good places to see migratory birds in the spring and fall. Over 110 species of birds have been observed here throughout the year but the autumn months are the best. For more park and nearby birding locations, view flyer.
Lake Trail: 36.24953, -83.93439 | 1.5 Miles | Natural Surface, Moderate | Winter, Spring, Fall
This 1.5-mile (distance one way) easy to moderate trail meanders around one side of the 49-acre Big Ridge Lake. It crosses Big Ridge Dam, which was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. The young men of the CCC are responsible for building the dam and many of the other structures in the park. This trail is an excellent one for viewing wildlife such as deer, frogs, heron, wood ducks, and much more.
Featured Birds: great blue heron nesting sites, bald eagle, osprey, belted kingfisher, wood ducks, Canada geese, red-tailed hawk.
Fisherman’s Trail: 36.24803, -83.91883 | 0.3 Miles | Natural Surface, Easy | Winter, Spring, Fall
This short and easy trail begins near the back entrance of the park and takes you to an area of Norris Lake known as Poor Land Valley.
Featured Birds: bald eagle, belted kingfisher, gulls, woodpeckers, northern flicker, and in the winter the
occasional common loon.
Big Valley Trail: 36.24600, -83.92240 | 1.7 Miles | Natural Surface, Difficult | Year-round
The trail is a strenuous hike that travels a road once used by many of this area’s earlier settlers as they hauled corn down to the Norton Gristmill. The trail traverses Pinnacle Ridge, descends into Dark Hollow, and then climbs to the top of Big Ridge. This trail has a wide variety of forest community changes and an elevation change, so the opportunity exists to see a lot of the upland species.
Featured Birds: red-shouldered hawk, great horned owl, warblers, woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglet,
hermit thrush, Carolina wren, dark-eyed junco, eastern towhee.
Softball Field: 36.24228, -83.93111 | 0.1 Miles | Natural Surface, Easy | Winter, Spring, Summer
This site offers both open field and edge habitat. You can often see American woodcocks perform their aerial displays here at dusk during late winter and early spring.
Featured Birds: American woodcock, goldfinch, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, northern cardinal, eastern bluebird, blue jay, red-tailed hawk.