Medoc Mountain State Park  »  Ecology

Medoc Mountain Visitor Center will be closed on the weekends for the month of December 2014.
Medoc State Park Road is now open.
The Equestrian Trails are now open.
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Plant & Animal  » Checklists

The wilderness character of Medoc Mountain is being restored through reforestation. Much of the land is in various stages of regrowth and the forests offer a sense of renewal. Old fields, once used for farming, are being reforested with herbaceous plants and young pines. In time, mature loblolly pine forests and then hardwood forests will reign.

Few plants grow beneath the dense stands of young pines, but blueberries, pipsissewa and pink lady slipper persist. In areas of the park that were once heavily logged, mixed forests grow where stumps and understory vegetation were allowed to regenerate. Hardwoods, loblolly pines and shrubs are found together there and the forest will eventually resemble its original state.

Floodplain and lowland hardwood forest species grow along the creeks, especially thriving at the junction of Bear Swamp and Little Fishing creeks. Species of trees commonly found include sweet gum, river birch, ironwood and alder, as well as water, white and swamp chestnut oaks.

Soils near the creeks are rich and promote the growth of herbaceous plants including jewelweed, false Solomon's-seal, Mayapple and other wildflowers commonly associated with the Piedmont. Christmas, lady, cinnamon and broad beech ferns thrive in the area. Bluffs and ravines in the park are distinctive habitats with tulip trees and sweet gums growing in moist locales and American beech and mountain laurel more prevalent on the steeper banks. Large concentrations of mountain laurel also grow here. Typically a highland species, mountain laurel is not usually found as far east as Medoc Mountain.

Medoc Mountain attracts a variety of animals. The nocturnal southern flying squirrel nests in tree cavities in the forests. More common mammals include opossums, gray foxes and white-tailed deer. Water-loving mammals such as river otter, muskrat and beaver reside near the creeks. Many animals not often observed by visitors - including freshwater mussels, crayfish, salamanders, frogs, turtles and water snakes - make their homes in the park's creeks, streams and boggy areas. The rare Carolina mudpuppy, a large aquatic salamander found only in the Neuse and Tar river systems, has been seen in Little Fishing Creek.

Bring binoculars to enjoy the many birds that inhabit Medoc Mountain. Waterways attract wood ducks and fish-eating birds including green-backed herons, great blue herons and belted kingfishers. The calls of the red-tailed hawk, and great horned and barred owls, add music to the forests. Bob-whites, wild turkeys and nesting songbirds - brown thrashers, rufous-sided towhees and prairie warblers - thrive on the food provided by the park's old fields and young forests. Birds attracted by the mature hardwood forests include wood thrushes, red-eyed vireos and various woodpeckers.