Palisades Park is an outstanding birding destination throughout the year. Its altitude – the highest point for miles in any direction – makes it a good place to see migrant songbirds in spring and fall. Sitting atop a rocky ridge, it overlooks Oneonta and much of Blount County. The rocky ridge produces thermals that provide lift for migrating hawks and vultures, particularly in fall migration. The tower to the south of the park entrance serves as a roost for both Turkey and Black vultures. The low canopy of Chestnut Oaks, and Virginia and Loblolly Pines may harbor breeding Scarlet Tanagers, as well as Black-throated Green Warblers – both nearing the southern end of their breeding ranges. The park is typically one of the first and best places to find arriving winter birds, from Red-breasted Nuthatches to Purple Finches and beyond. Cedar Waxwings are very common in the colder months. Sharp-shinned Hawks chase songbirds through the park in winter.
A paved loop road runs through the park, and there is ample parking. Off the ridge in the northern portion of the park is a nature trail, marked by a red gate. The trail winds through low, thick growth, and is good for typical woodland birds. The road up the mountain to the park entrance offers opportunities for Prairie Warblers and Yellow-breasted Chats in overgrown fields along the way.
Directions: From I-59 in Blount County, take exit 168 (Oneonta/Ashville) and drive west on US 231. In 14 miles, you arrive at the Blount County seat of Oneonta (restaurants, service station, some lodging available). Remain on US 231 by “jogging” straight as the road doglegs in town. In 2.5 miles, turn right on Ebell Road and follow for 1.6 miles. Turn right onto Palisades Parkway at the sign for the park.
Alternately, coming from the west, from the intersection of US 231 and AL 160 at Cleveland (Blount County), follow US 231 for 5.1 miles, turning left on Ebell Road. The sign for the park is on the right in 1.6 miles.
GPS: 33.996319 -86.414852
1225 Palisades Pkwy
Oneonta, AL 35121
Amenities: parking, picnic area, trail, restrooms