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293. Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, Tallahassee, Florida

A city park of more than 670 acres that attracts warblers, grosbeaks, sparrows, and many other birds.

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park is one of my favorite birding destinations in north Florida. It offers 10 miles of shared-use trails, which wind through a variety of interesting habitats. My typical loop takes me through restored longleaf pine flatwoods, where Bachman’s Sparrows and Summer Tanagers can be heard singing in spring, down a gentle slope past expansive live oaks, and into lush deciduous forests traversed by several small creeks wending their way to the shore of Lake Jackson, one of the biggest lakes in the area. I’ve spent many cool fall mornings hiking the trails along these creeks in search of migrant songbirds, which can be found here in good numbers. No fewer than 33 species of warbler have been observed here, including annual occurrences of Cerulean, Golden-winged, Canada, and Bay-breasted.

An expansive field at the shore of Lake Jackson can be good for sparrows in winter and is home to many Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings spring through fall. Limpkins can occasionally be heard calling from the shoreline, and Sedge Wrens winter in the reeds by the water’s edge. On a typical two-hour hike in winter, I’ll find between 40 and 50 species at the park. Butterfly viewing is also good here in summer and fall. 

293. Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, Tallahassee, Florida

Directions

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park covers more than 670 acres east of Lake Jackson. From I-10, take FL-61N/Thomasville Rd. half a mile to Timberlane Rd. Turn left on Timberlane, and after 1.7 miles, turn right on N. Meridian Rd. Go 2.1 miles, turn left on Miler Landing Rd., and turn into one of three parking areas for the park.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
30°32’9.99″N 84°17’49.66″W

Habitat

Pine flatwoods, deciduous forest, lakeshore.

Terrain

Wide and mostly flat dirt and grass trails. Some gradual inclines. Several good loop trails between 1 and 2.5 miles long.

Birds

Over 190 species. Northern Bobwhite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Barred and Great Horned Owls, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Red-eyed Vireos, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Yellowthroat, Pine, Yellow-throated, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated and Bachman’s Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting.

When to go

Year-round, but especially good in fall and winter. Best in the morning. Fall mornings after a cold front has moved through can yield high numbers of migrant songbirds.

Amenities

Restrooms available at the soccer field complex. Well-maintained trails with several short boardwalks and bridges over streams. Small observation platform looking over the shore of Lake Jackson at western end of the park. Food and drink not available but many restaurants within a short drive.

Access

City park. No entrance fee, and free parking. Open all day and night year-round.

Tips

Mosquitoes a nuisance in wetter areas of park in fall. Park hosts several annual athletic events that bring in many people. Best to go on a non-event weekend or during the week. 

For more info

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park
Apalachee Audubon Society

Sites nearby

Tall Timbers Research Station
14 miles north of park on Henry Beadel Rd. Great for woodpeckers, including Red-cockaded and Red-headed. White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches common. Views from a window of feeders and a pond. Good for sparrows in winter.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
Across Meridian Rd. from park. Picturesque gardens, plenty of good hiking trails, and a lakeside picnic area.

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Jeff O’Connell

Jeff O’Connell is the field trip leader for the Apalachee Audubon Society.

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