South Mountains State Park  »  Ecology

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Observe different forest types in the beautiful woodlands of South Mountains State Park, including pure conifer, mixed conifer, hardwood and climax hardwood forests. This relatively undeveloped area is a splendid example of ecologies from the upper piedmont to the mountains. Oak, hickory and a variety of pines are the predominant species in the park.

Walk along the park's numerous streams and enjoy a variety of beautiful wildflowers, including Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slipper and foam flowers. Mountain laurel and rhododendron are also present.

Wildlife is abundant in the forests of South Mountains, though many of the animals go unseen by the casual visitor. Salamanders, frogs and toads reside in the moist areas of the park. Common reptiles include eastern fence lizards, skinks and a variety of small snakes. Though most of the snakes in the park are harmless and rarely encountered, the venomous copperhead and timber rattlesnake are present, and hikers should exercise caution.

The park comes alive with a symphony of chirping during the spring and summer months. More than 60 species of birds are known to nest at South Mountains. While most species found in the park are typical of the western piedmont, other common species include the ruffed grouse, black-throated green warbler and rose-breasted grosbeak. You may also find Acadian flycatchers, common crows, Carolina chickadees, wood thrushes, red-eyed vireos, oven birds, hooded warblers, indigo buntings and Eastern towhees. Common ravens have also nested on rock ledges near High Shoals Falls.

White-tailed deer, black bears and many smaller mammals also call the park home. Woodchucks may be seen along grassy roadsides, and chipmunks inhabit the forests along with their larger cousin, the gray squirrel. Raccoons and Virginia opossums forage along the streams. Also, several species of small rodents, shrews and eastern moles are South Mountains forest inhabitants seldom encountered by park visitors.