Each year between Jan. 15 and Aug. 15, the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there.
Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Activities that are prohibited to reduce disturbance to nesting and fledgling falcons includes rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, bouldering, hang gliding, and slacklining. Climbing closures on Whiteside Mountain include all routes between and including Southwest Arete and Mainline.
Falcon’s perspective of Whiteside Mountain below:
See full list of closures HERE.
Drone use on the rock faces themselves and flying drones in the vicinity of the rock faces and within posted areas is also prohibited.
Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through-hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries but hikers should not approach the rock faces listed in the table below.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) monitors nesting sites with the help of volunteers.
In 2020 across western North Carolina, 16 sites were occupied by peregrine falcon pairs and four successfully reproduced with a total of seven offspring. Two additional sites were occupied by a single, unpaired bird. The Shortoff Mountain nesting site that was discovered last season was occupied again this year and the pair produced three fledglings.
To learn more about the falcon nesting season and other raptors of Whiteside Mountain click HERE.
Pictured at the top of the article is an aerial view of Whiteside Mountain