Best Time to Visit This Site:

Early April-Late June

Most Sought Species at This Site:

Swallow-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Chuck-will’s-Widow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Sedge Wren, Prothonotary Warbler, Bachman’s Sparrow, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Painted Bunting

The Bethel Bike Trail is located within the Desoto National Forest which is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. This site is also recognized by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The site has a variety of habitats, including Tupelo/bald cypress swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, longleaf pine forests, and wet pine savannah - that host a wide variety of species, but the most sought after by far is the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.  There are three known nesting colonies in the Desoto National Forest, but the Bethel Bike Trail is the easiest colony to access. The optimal season for viewing these woodpeckers is from April through late June. It nests in live pine trees infected with red heart fungus which causes the tree’s inner core to become soft.  Stands of these trees are easy to identify by their Forest Service markings.  They are usually ringed with baffles and have the brush cleared beneath them to dissuade predators. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers typically forage over great distances and may be absent from the nest-hole for a considerable time so plan to arrive just before first light to catch them when they first emerge from their nest cavities. You will certainly hear, and have a good chance of seeing

Chuck-will’s-widow while you are waiting. As the light increases you will begin to hear the distinctive song of the second most sought after species at DeSoto: Bachman’s Sparrow, soon joined by Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat and a variety of other species. If you happen to visit in the winter, you may spy Le Conte’s Sparrow in the masses of broom-sedge present on the property.  Hunting is allowed on portions of this large site. For your own safety, wear highly visible blaze orange hunting clothes during hunting seasons. Information on hunting seasons can be found by clicking on the Hunting icon below. The GPS coordinates give to the right are for the entrance to the trail. Travel North-North West to the parking area.

GPS:  30.59437 -88.93413


Extensive Trail Systems (see map)

Extensive Trail Systems (see map)


Check Hunting


Website -Mozart Mark Dedeaux

Birding Ethics

Contact Us

Website Feedback

New Trail Nomination

Updated: 9/17/2013