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Sideling Hill (Sp, S, F)
Description. Sideling Hill is located along the western extension of Washington County near Allegheny County. It is one of the best areas in Washington County to observe the spring migration of birds. It is a mix of mountain ridges, woodlands and abandoned orchards that provide a good diversity of bird habitats. A variety of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, cuckoos, thrushes as well as year-round residents can be found in this area. There is no single trail to follow but a number of country roads that meander through the region. The most productive way to bird this area is to roll down the windows of your vehicle and listen or to look for bird activity, then to pull off the road, get out and enjoy.
Trip Planning. No special preparation is required. However, one must proceed with caution on the stretch of road on Route 40. While it is not heavily traveled, the traffic moves very fast. There are a few pull-offs where one can stop and get out. Also proceed with caution when birding from your car along country roads as hunting is allowed in the Sideling Hill WMA. It should be fairly safe to bird in the area as long as one birds from the road or shoulder. Do not wander into the woods without checking with the Maryland DNR on hunting seasons and areas.
Seasonal Variation. Most Washington county birders bird here in the spring, when the area is a prime habitat for migrants. One can find most warbler species common to the area, including Cerulean Warbler, vireos, flycatchers, thrushes and other Neotropical migrants. However, the fall should also be good for returning migrants and the ever challenging juveniles that are heading south.
Details of Specific Routes. There are a number of roads that can be birded in this area, including the following:
- From the junction of Route 40 and Riser Road, bird east on Route 40 for approximately one mile and on Riser Road for approximately one mile south. Again, caution along Route 40. Riser Road is a country road and should be easier to bird from the car, with suitable caution.
- Bird along Route 629, Exline Road, from its junction with Henline Road to Woodmont Road. Continue to bird on Woodmont Road down to Pearre Road, which runs parallel to the C&O Canal Historical Park. Continue to bird east along Pearre Road until the road dwindles away then bird west where it turns into Deneen Road. One can follow Deneen Road back to the C&O Canal. (Henline Road can also be birded between Exline Road and Hoffman Road). One can also bird along the “Rails to Trails” trail, which runs through this area as well. Again, use caution when birding through the Sideling Hill WMA.
Directions. Take US 68 west to exit 77 and drive south to Scenic Route 40. Take Scenic Route 40 west to where it joins Riser Road. From there, bird Scenic Route 40 and Riser Road for about a mile in each direction.
To bird along Exline Road, Route 629, go east along Scenic Route 40 from Riser Road to Route 628, Rice Road. Proceed south along Rice Road to Western Road. Turn right on Western Road and proceed to Exline Road. Bird the area along Exline Road beginning with its juncture with Henline Road. As mentioned above, Henline Road can also be birded from Exline Road to Hoffman Road.
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