Nine old train tracks ideal for birdwatching

Nine old train tracks ideal for birdwatching
Kentucky Warbler, one of the species that can be seen along Maryland’s Indian Head Rail Trail. Photo by Hans Spiecker

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This Saturday, April 7 marks the sixth annual Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Trail Open Day. It’s a day when people kick off the spring trail season by hitting their favorite trails for a walk, run, ride or special event. The conservation, which aims to turn old railroad tracks into multi-use trails across the country, offers nine trails that are great for birdwatching. They understand:

• Withlacoochee State Trail, a 46-mile stretch between Orlando and Tampa, Florida. It follows the Withlacoochee River and meanders past Fort Cooper State Park and through the Croom Wildlife Management Area. Birds spotted near the trail include herons, limpkins, swallow-tailed kites, red-shouldered hawks, sandhill cranes, and red cockade woodpeckers.

• Indian Head Rail Trail, which connects Indian Head and White Plains, Maryland. It is part of the Mattawoman Creek Important Bird Area, where you can look for three declining species on Audubon’s Watch List – Protonotary and Kentucky Warblers and Wood Thrush – and other birds.

• Kim Williams Nature Trail, a four-mile trail in Missoula, Montana. Named for a beloved author and naturalist, it follows the Clark Fork River and is ideal for Cooper’s and Red-tailed hawks and the occasional prairie falcon. It is also one of the best spots in Missoula for Cordilleran Flycatcher.

• Oak Leaf Trail, which winds over 185 km in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The scenic trail offers hikers spectacular views of the Lake Michigan shoreline, urban areas, open plains, and 250 species of birds during the spring and fall migration periods. It is an ornithological destination not to be missed.

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You can find the complete list of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy birding trails here.

Hotspots near you

Are you looking for more great trails and other places to see birds? Visit our interactive map of hotspots near you to see the best birding spots in your area.