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We have just over 3 miles of trails into the forested canyon. Choose from the easy Canyon Floor Trail or the more strenuous West Loop Trail which connects to a brand new Dogwood Trail (signs will direct you to this trail). Please note that trails are subject to closure. Please call in advance for trail status if it has recently rained.
Please note that our hiking trails may close during and after rain. Click for more information. Our Audubon center and sanctuary are privately owned by the National Audubon Society. Therefore, when the center is closed, the trails are also closed.
Canyon Floor Trail
Distance: ½ mile round trip
This stroller-friendly trail gets you up-close and personal with some of the features which make this place special. Look for tight clusters of the scaly-barked Shin Oak which are often marked by the horizontal feeding holes of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Listen for songbirds as they flit from tree to tree. Get to know your vines: the thorny thin Greenbrier, the thick woody Grapevine, the rootlet-covered Poison Ivy and the palmate-leafed Virginia Creeper each provide crucial cover for our wildlife. Best of all, the short trail allows you slow down and let the life of the forest unfold around you.
West Loop Trail
Distance 1.65 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
With an elevation change of 150 feet over the first half mile, the West Loop Trail provides a challenge and a change in perspective! This trail provides spectacular panoramic views and an opportunity to get deep into this beautiful site. You can frequently spot soaring birds from the high points. A large, black soaring bird is likely to be a Turkey Vulture while the Red-tailed Hawk has a white belly and a rusty tail. People aren’t the only ones who use this trail so keep your eyes out for scat and other signs of the many creatures for whom Dogwood Canyon is home. As you continue around the loop, experience the tranquility of quiet.
Distance 1.1 miles round trip
This is a new trail completed in early 2020. The trail begins just past Marker 5 on the West Loop Trail. Temporary signage offers directions, noting where the loop portion begins and how to return to the West Loop trail. This trail takes you deeper into the canyon, offering creekside views, groves of Trout Lilies (seen only in late winter), and a spur trail that leads to the location of a future overlook point. This future overlook will rise above the nearby Flowering Dogwood grove so that one may see the fabulous blooms in the spring. During the rest of the year, these trees look much like their relative, the Roughleaf Dogwood.
Nature Play Area--currently closed
Maybe you’re not up for a hike, but you’d like a place to slow down and take in this wild and special place. This shady spot is set aside for children’s unstructured nature play, but its beautiful views and picnic tables are perfect for relaxation, too!
- Take plenty of water.
- Protect yourself with sunscreen, insect repellant, and a hat.
- Know what poison ivy looks like and avoid it.
- The center is home to many plant and animal species. Enjoy viewing them, but do not disturb them or their homes. Move slowly and quietly to see more wildlife. Wildlife is protected by law.
- Venomous snakes are on the premises. Give them wide berth and leave them alone. They are protected by state law.
- Give yourself enough time to travel to your destination and back. The average hiker can travel a mile in 30-45 minutes.
- Stay on the trail. Watch your footing and avoid path edges. Trails can be slippery or wet.
- Be courteous. Monitor noise levels and yield to other hikers. Walk in single file when other hikers are nearby. Hikers headed downhill should yield to hikers headed uphill.