© Bob Pickett

1998 Field Notes:

DATE: October 24, 1998

LOCATION: Staunton River Trail, SNP Our hike took us up to the Jones Mountain Cabin and on to Bear Church Rocks. Total distance of about 7 miles.

GEOLOGY: The hike begins on the Old Rag Granite, passing through a major north/south shear zone, before entering the Pedlar Granodiorite, shortly after reaching the Staunton River.

HIGHLIGHTS: A male Eastern red bat was found resting on a leaf. It's one of the most beautiful of all American Bats; its conspicuous bright-reddish color distinguishes it from all other species. This is one of our three migratory bats (along with the hoary and silver-haired bat). It is a solitary, tree-roosting bat. At this time of the year, the Eastern red bat is migrating from its summer range (north of VA and the Ohio River and extending down the Appalachians to the Smokies) to its winter range (south of VA and the Ohio River and outside of the Appalachians). Their hibernating sites are poorly understood, but likely are in protected places in tree hollows (especially old squirrel nests) where winter temperatures do not reach below freezing. Apparently, males and females migrate at different times and have different winter and summer grounds. (To answer your question, they copulate while in flight, usually in August; somewhat earlier than most bats. As is the case with most bats, they practice delayed fertilization, enabling a spring actual fertilization and birth.) Eastern red bats are unusual in that they have a brood of three or four young, instead of one or two, which is characteristic of most bats.


Canopy - Much of the woods are of the same age tulip trees, indicative of the area being largely fields at the time of Park's establishment in 1935. (A few old trees with horizontal dying branches were noted, evidence of shade trees growing in the former fields.) The usual forest components are found including white and red oaks, several species of hickory, red maple, white ash, black cherry, black birch, and black locust. Hemlocks are found in the wetter areas (some evidence of hemlock wooly adelgids was found). Numerous paulownias and ailanthus trees were populating the areas along the disturbed water courses. A few yellow birch were found near the Jones Mountain Cabin. A few umbrella magnolias were found along the Rapidan River.

Shrub layer - Spicebush was the dominant shrub layer, with witch hazel found in rocky areas. Three species of viburnum were found (Southern Arrowwood, Maple-leaf, and blackhaw). Mountain laurel and American Chestnut saplings were dominant on the slope near the Jones Mountain Cabin.

Herbaceous flowers - A few goldenrods and asters were in bloom.

NOTES: Steve Bair, Park resource management specialist, accompanied us, and spoke about the major flooding that washed out the Staunton and Rapidan Rivers in June of 1995, and the recovery since that time.

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DATE: September 19, 1998


GEOLOGY: Principally Pottsville group sandstones of Early Pennsylvanian Period. This formation makes up Bear Rocks and the eastern edge of Dolly Sods and Cabin Mountain on the west. Younger formations are found in the central portion of the synclinal plateau.

HIGHLIGHTS: This was an Audubon Naturalist's Society foray with Mark Garland. The heath barrens around Bear Rocks (the northern section of Dolly Sods) were especially showy. Eleven species of ericaceous plants (heath members) were identified, nine species of ferns (the marsh fern dominating the heath barrens; the rare mountain wood fern found at Bird Knob tower), six species of clubmosses (including the bog clubmoss), four species of St. John's-wort (including Hypericum canadense; not even listed in AFlora of West Virginia@ for Dolly Sods), goldenrods, asters, and narrow-leaf gentians were also found. The uncommon purple chokeberry (Aronia floribunda) dominated the heath barrens (in purple fruit). Sundews and large cranberry (in fruit) were found in bog habitats. Monarch butterflies and the raptors/passerine birds were in migration. Two peregrine falcons were observed (one twice seen harassing hawks), two red-headed woodpeckers were seen and many warblers were identified at the bird banding station across from the Red Creek Campground. (Fourteen hundred broad-winged hawks were counted at the bird banding station on Saturday.) However, the highlight of the trip was the overnight hike across the barrens from Bear Rocks to Cabin Mountain Sunday evening after the ANS foray was completed. The four mile hike across the barrens; the Aroof of the eastern continental divide@, to the western edge of the Dolly Sods plateau and camping on the precipice of Cabin Mountain, overlooking Canaan Valley, was truely inspiring. After the cleansing rains of Saturday afternoon and the high elevation (4,120'), the Milky Way was as spectacular as I've seen it since I was a child visiting my grandparents at the Lake of the Ozarks, MO. No moon and clear skies. While stargazing, I was buzzed three times by a barred owl, hovering ten feet above my head.

BOTANY: (Common names are taken from AFlora of West Virginia@; Strausbaugh and Core.

Canopy - In pockets of residual/alluvial soil, the red spruce is the only true native canopy tree, with some planted red pine. However, other smaller trees included red and striped maple, serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), clonal clumps of quaking aspen, hawthorn, mountain ash (in fruit), fire and black cherry, yellow birch, as well as a few Virginia pine, beech, bear and red oak. One cucumber magnolia (in fruit) was found along the road just east of the summit of Bear Rocks.

Shrub layer - Purple chokeberry (in fruit) dominate the heath barrens. Ericaceous plants include four species of vaccinium (three blueberries - velvetleaf (V. myrtilloides), late low (V. vacillans), early low (V. angustifolium), and large cranberry (V. macrocarpon) and black huckleberry - in fruit (Gaylussacia baccata). In the more wooded environment, ericaceous plants included mountain laurel, great rhododendron, minnie-bush and rose azalea. Other shrubs included two mountain hollies (Illex montana - female plants in fruit - and Nemopanthus mucronata), two viburnums (wild raisin, V. cassinoides and smooth arrowwood, V. recognitum), witch-hazel (a few in flower), a willow, meadowsweet, common elder, two shrubby St. John's-worts (H. densiflorum and prolificum), speckled alder (in wet areas), and one round-leaved gooseberry.

Herbaceous flowers - Goldenrods, including bog (Solidago uglinosa), grass-leaved (S. graminifolia), and wrinkled-leaf (S. rugosa); and asters, including crooked stem (Aster prenanthoides), purple-stem (A. puniceus), mountain aster (A. acuminatus) and flat-top aster (A. umbellatus) dominated the herbaceous flowering plants. The most interesting, somewhat evergreen, perennial is the three-toothed cinquefoil, a northern boreal species, found along the highest mountain rock outcrops along the Appalachian ridgeline. Another boreal species found is bunchberry, a member of the dogwood genus (Cornus canadensis). Other perennials in flower include bleeding hearts, fireweed, white snakeroot, narrow-leaf gentian, a bluet, two species of hawkweed, two species of St. John's-wort (Canadian and marsh; Hypericum canadense and virginicum) pearly everlasting, daisy fleabane, field basil, heal-all, quick weed, chickory, queen anne's lace, and bouncing bet. Milkweed (with some monarch larvae) and evening primrose are in fruit. Cotton grass (in fruit) dominated the bog habitats.

Ferns and fern allies - Marsh ferns and hay-scented ferns dominate on the heath barrens. The mountain wood fern (Dryopteris campyloptera), only found above 4,000', was found with numerous hybrids with the interrupted ferns in the woods at Bird Knob fire tower. Others include New York, cinnamon, interrupted, polypody, bracken, and lady. The clubmosses included the bog clubmoss (Lycopodium inundatum), stiff clubmoss (L. annotinum), tree clubmoss (L. obscurum), common clubmoss (L. clavatum), slender groundpine (L. tristachyum), and groundpine (L. flabelliforme).

Groundcovers and lianas - The heath barrens were literally covered with bristly dewberry. Teaberry and trailing arbutus were subdominant groundcovers.


Mammals - A few deer were seen, rabbit pellets were found, and coyote scat and tracks were observed near Cabin Mountain.

Amphibians - A few red-spotted newts were found, as was a few juvenile brook salamanders and an American toad.

Reptiles - None

Birds - Raptors were in migration. Hawks seen included sharpies, kestral, harrier, broad-winged (although we saw no more than five - ten in a kettle; nothing like the hundreds seen kettling by observers at the bird banding station. A peregrine was seen soaring on Sunday morning, then another one (possibly two) by myself Monday morning on Cabin Mountain. Specifically, within about twenty minutes, I observed a peregrine chasing a hawk (unknown species). At the bird banding station Sunday morning, we saw male and female rose breasted grosbeaks (notice the red underwing linings of the male and yellow underwing linings of the female). Birds caught in nets while we visited included swainson's thrush, and black-and-white, black-throated blue, hooded, bay-breasted, blackpoll, magnolia, black-throated green, Cape May, and Tennessee warblers. Two red-headed woodpeckers were at the station. Other birds seen over the weekend included Cedar waxwings, black-capped chickadees, blue jays, cat birds, eastern juncos, eastern towhees. Turkey tracks were seen at Cabin Mountain. While stargazing Sunday night, a barred owl flew ten feet over my head and abruptly did a U-turn back over my head. Ten seconds later, the owl repeated the same maneuver. Ten seconds later, a third pass occurred. By this time, I had my flashlight ready, turning it on the large bird, who hovered directly over me (in my flashlight) for two seconds, then flew away, not returning. (Interestingly enough, Mark Garland had relayed a story over the weekend about sleeping out years ago, and being 'checked out'  in a similar fashion by an owl. Coincidently, it was at this same place that his incident occurred.)

NOTES: Monarch butterflies were migrating. Mark caught and tagged several. A blue crawfish was found at the Dolly Sods picnic ground.

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DATE: September 5, 1998

LOCATION: Blister Swamp, Pocahontas County, WVA (This is NOT Blister Run Swamp near Gaudineer Knob.) This is about five miles north of the Locust Springs Campground of the Virginia GW National Forest off Rte 28.

GEOLOGY: Upper Devonian Hampshire Formation sandstones and lower Mississippian Pocono Group sandstones.

HIGHLIGHTS: The swamp itself is losing most of its' Balsam Fir trees, but still is a unique assemblage of plants. Gaulthera hisbidula (creeping snowberry), bunchberry, twinflower, goldthread, blue monkshood (bloom) and Jacob's ladder are a few of the unusual boreal plants.


Canopy: Red spruce, balsam fir, white pine, black cherry, black birch, beech, red pine, red maple.

Subcanopy: Witch-hazel, mountain ash.

Shrub Layer: Common elder, hawthorn, early low blueberry, shrubby St. Johns'-wort (H. densiflorum), silky willow, speckled alder, bristly black currant, steeplebush spirea (fruit), round-leaved gooseberry.

Herbaceous Layer: Canada mayflower (fruit), wood sorrel, flat-topped aster (A. umbellatus - in wet areas), zig-zag aster (A. prenathiodes), wrinkle-leaf goldenrod (S. rugosa), panicled hawkweed (in flower), golden saxifrage, water starwort, yarrow (in flower), bottle gentian (bloom), hairy hawkweed (bloom), silverrod goldenrod (bloom - S. bicolor), willow herb, nodding ladies' tresses (bloom), golden ragwort foliage, small green wood orchid (fruit), grass-leaved goldenrod (S. graminifolia), bog goldenrod (S. uglinosa), bull thistle (bloom), oxe-eye daisy (bloom), purple-stemmed aster (A. puniceus), marsh marigold, false hellebore, rough bedstraw (bloom), turtlehead (bloom), jack-in-the-pulpit (fruit), tearthumb (bloom), cottongrass (fruit), blue vervain (bloom), marsh violet (bloom), tall buttercup (bloom).

Ground cover and vines: Rattlesnake plantain (flower), partridgeberry, clematis virginiana (fruit).

Ferns and Fern allies: Bracken fern, sensitive, cinnamon, interrupted, lady, crested, and hay-scented ferns. Clubmosses include L. obscurum (whose spores were also used as a suppository), L. clavatum, L. flabelleforme, L. tristachyum, L. annotinum.


Amphibians: none

Reptiles: none

Birds: Nuthatch, towhee, yellowthroats, yellow-rumped warbler, broad-winged hawk, grouse, purple finch, crows, turkey vulture, several dozen nighthawks.

Mammals: none

Insects: Butterflies include meadow fritillary, wood nymph, little small copper, cloudless sulfur, monarch, red-spotted purple, black-morphed tiger swallowtail,

NOTES: "How to know the lichens" - Mason Hale. Also went to the Greenbank Radio Telescope grounds. A wetlands/wet forest site included numerous ferns, including royal, marsh, crested, hay-scented, cinnamon, New York and netted chain fern (a relic coastal plain species). Several viburnums were also found, including V. lentago, cassinoides and dentatum (nannyberry, wild raisin and roughish arrowwood). Wild crabapple (Malus coronaria), with the leaf scars on the thorns (versus the non-leaved thorns of the hawthorns) were also found. Other plants of the wet woods included swamp white oak, winterberry holly (differing from the mountain holly by wetter habitat, smaller, darker green, more leathery leaves with pubescence on the under leaf sides), male berry, marsh purslane, Marsh St. John's-wort, small-flowered St John's-wort, and orange grass (Hypericum virginicum, mutilum and gentianoides) and silky cornel (Cornus amomum - fruit light blue).

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DATE: July 26, 1998

LOCATION: Camp Hoover loop (Laurel Prong/Mill Prong/ AT)

GEOLOGY:Pedlar granodiorite and Catoctin Greenstone

HIGHLIGHTS: Large area of Aconitum reclinatum (in bloom, just above the first crossing of the Mill Prong going downhill). Along the Appalachian trail, both American filbert and beaked hazelnut in fruit, over 500 Lilium superbum (Turkís Cap lily); most suffering from a wilt, and hawthorn fruit suffering from a rust. Did not find the gentian along Laurel Prong (didínt look for it). Visited the very large tulip tree at Camp Hoover. Noticed the many trees cut at Camp Hoover as part of the renovation of the area. Interesting to find columbine still in flower in several places. Hemlocks along Laurel Prong looking very bad.


Canopy: Chestnut, white, red oaks, black cherry, black and yellow birch, red and sugar maple, hemlock, tulip tree.

Subcanopy: Sassafras, black locust, shadbush, white pine, witch hazel, striped maple.

Shrub Layer: American chestnuts, wild hydrangea, mountain laurel, minnie-bush, pinxter azalea, maple-leaf viburnum, shrubby St. Johnswort (bloom), beaked and American hazelnut, or filbert (fruit), roundleaf gooseberry (fruit), dwarf (corymbed) spirea, great rhododendron.

Herbaceous Layer: Tall bellflower (bloom), white avens (bloom), rough cinquefoil (bloom), wild sarsasparilla, southern harebell (bloom), alumroot (fruit), lots of Turkís cap lily (bloom), wild quinine (bloom), wild live-forever (bloom), false Solomonís seal (fruit), Indian cucumber root (fruit), white baneberry (fruit), white snakeroot (bloom), tall, or green-headed coneflower (bloom), yarrow (bloom), poke milkweed (fruit), common milkweed (bloom), columbine (bloom), much nettles, great angelica (bloom), Canada mayflower (fruit).

Ground cover and vines: Raspberries and blackberries, wild yam, Virginia creeper, dodder, partridge berry, Rattlesnake plantain (flower).

Ferns: Cinnamon, interrupted, maidenhair, Christmas, marginal, lady, rock polypody, New York, Hay-scented, ebony spleenwort, bracken, broad beech, L. flabelleforme.


Amphibians: Slimy salamander

Reptiles: garter snake

Birds: Wood peewee, northern juncos, towhees.

Mammals: deer

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DATE: July 12, 1998

LOCATION: Cranesville Swamp, Preston County, WVA

GEOLOGY: Mississippian limestones and shales of the Greenbriar group (same formation that constitutes much of Canaan Valley).

HIGHLIGHTS: Northern species plants, including larch and red spruce canopy, several viburnums and shrubby hypericum, speckled alder and mountain holly, cranberry, and gold thread. Most of open swamp was hispid dewberry with skunk cabbage.


Canopy: Black cherry, hemlock, white and red oak, red maple, red spruce, white pine, red pine, larch.

Subcanopy: Black birch, hawthorn, shadbush (A. laevis), pitch pine, wild crabapple, fire cherry, speckled alder,(catkins drooping, hirsute lower leaf surface separates this from smooth).

Shrub Layer: Mountain laurel, smooth arrowwood (V. recognitum), wild raisin (V. cassinoides), nannyberry (V. lentago), autumn olive, highbush blueberry, black chokeberry, mountain holly (fruit) (N. mucronata), shrubby St. John's-wort (H. densiflorum), deerberry.

Herbaceous Layer: Wild sarsasparilla, starflower (bloom), heal-all (bloom), goldthread (fruit), skunk cabbage, sundews, cattails, cottongrass, whorled loosestrife (bloom), large round-leaved orchid (foliage).

Ground cover and vines: Hispid dewberry (bloom), partridge berry, large cranberry, trailing arbutus, teaberry, canada mayflower, blackberries.

Ferns: Bracken, New York, hay-scented, cinnamon, interrupted ferns. Lycopodium flabellum, obscurum, clavatum, and tristachyum.


Amphibians: green frogs, bull frogs.

Reptiles: 15" smooth green snake, ring-necked snake.

Birds: Chickadees, scarlet tanagers, hermit thrush, indigo bunting, red-eyed vireo, bluejay, towhee, brown thrasher, common yellowthroat, robins, song sparrow, veery, yellow-shafted flicker, nuthatch, phoebe.


NOTES: Spent night at Horseshoe Bend campground, found another ring-necked and water snake and a long-tailed salamander.

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DATE: July 11, 1998

LOCATION: Ice Mountain; Hampshire County, West Virginia

GEOLOGY: Devonian Oriskany sandstone and Marcellus shales.

HIGHLIGHTS: Due to the unusual geologic and topographic conditions, northern boreal species have been able to survive here since the last glacial period to become relic populations, becoming isolated over time from the their northern ranges as warming temperatures have made the surrounding habitat unsuitable for their existence. Making this habitat more unusual, is that the boreal species are found at an elevation of only 700 feet (Raven Rocks, the summit, towers above the unique habitat, reaching 1324 feet). Bunchberry, twinflower, bristly wild rose and northern bedstraw and cucumber magnolia are found here. The highly resistant Oriskany sandstone forms a vertical wall (the formerly flat formation being tilted, literally, vertically). Geologically, it is the western edge of an anticline; with a NE-SW strike and dip of 90 degrees.) This wall protects the area from a majority of the solar energy intensity. Immediately to the west of the sandstone is the Marcellus shale (the next younger formation, lying, originally, on top of the sandstone). This relatively soft shale layer, in geologic time, has been eroded below the level of the sandstone and has been covered by a layer of broken plate-like blocks of the resistant Oriskany sandstone. The moisture-retentive shales, being a vertical formation at this location, act much like a large, deep well. The glacial period assured that this moisture was stored in the form of ice. The coverage of this shale by insulating sandstones not only kept the heat out, but also trapped the cold air in the shale formation. As a result, the core of ice has been able to sustain itself to the current time. Thus, enabling the existence of boreal species at a latitude where the only other known populations are found above 4,000 feet elevation.


Canopy: Black birch, hemlock, sugar and red maple, tulip tree, shagbark, hickory, chestnut and black oak, black gum, sycamore, black cherry, linden, ailanthus, white ash, black walnut.

Subcanopy: Spicebush, cucumber magnolia, dogwood, witch-hazel, hornbeam, sassafras, hawthorn, black locust, Virginia and table-mountain pine (near Ravens Rocks), American chestnut.

Shrub Layer: Rosebay rhododendron, minnie-bush, blueberries, maple-leaf viburnum, mountain laurel, black huckleberry, redbud, round-leaved gooseberry.

Herbaceous Layer: Canada mayflower, bunchberry (fruit), twinflower, deptfort pinks, ramps, bluets (flower), white avens, corn speedwell, oxe-eye daisy (bloom), wild sarsasparilla (bloom), wood anemone, smaller forget-me-not (bloom), enchanter's nightshade (bloom), blue cohosh, garlic mustard, jack-in-the-pulpit, pussy-toes, rattlesnake plantain, alumroot, wood nettles, ground ivy, raspberries, impatiens.

Ground cover and vines: Partridgeberry, northern bedstraw, round-lobed hepatica, wood sorrel, round-leaved greenbriar.

Ferns: Marginal, Christmas, hay-scented, New York, sensitive, intermedia, oak (I was told it was the globally rare Appalachian oak fern), ebony spleenwort, and brittle fern.


Amphibians: American toad.


Birds: Goldfinch, great-crested flycatcher, indigo bunting, raven, red-tailed hawk, red-eyed vireo, black and turkey vultures.


NOTES: The Nature Conservancy owns the Ice Mountain property and conducts monthly tours (normally the 2nd Saturday and 3d Thursday) through their West Virginia office (304 345-4350). Our host wasTerry Bailes, the owner of the old tavern, along the original National Road (Rte 50).

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DATE: June 28 - 29, 1998

LOCATION: Laurel Fork Special Management Area, GW Nat Forest, VA (4 hr, 15 min from Vienna metro)

GEOLOGY: The Devonian Hamshire formation of reddish shales, mudstones and sandstones. (Next formation above - to the west - is the Mississippian sandstone Pocono formation, which makes up Spruce Knob and the Dolly Sods.)

ITINERARY: This was a two day trip covering all the trails in this small northern hardwoods/coniferous forest. After spending Saturday night near the Locust Springs campground - and the rowdy, messy local kids - I backpacked down the Buck Run trail (2.5 mi) to the Laurel Run trail and on to the Locust Spring trailhead (.5 mi) and set up camp early on Sunday. I then hiked with a day pack upstream along Laurel Run to the Bearwallow Run trail (3 mi), following it up to FS 106 (2.5 mi). WARNING!! If youríe using the 1988 GWNF Warm Springs Ranger District map, it is wrong. Bearwallow Run trail intersects FS 106 directly; not the unnamed unimproved road. When you hit the gate at the gravel road, you are at FS 106. Turn right. In a hundred yards, intersect routes 57 and 58 on the left. Continue about a mile and a half to find the gated Slabcamp Run on the right. (I never found route 52.) I then took the Slabcamp Run connector to Locust Spring Run back to my campsite (about 3.5 mi). Monday, I hiked up Christian Run (1.6 mi) and back along Cold Spring Run (1.7 mi) to the campsite, packed up and then backpacked upstream, taking the Slabcamp Run trail (2.5 mi) all the way to Locust Spring Run and back to the campground. NOTE: After reaching Locust Spring trail from coming up the Slabcamp Run trail, shortly find intersection with trail 633A going to the left. DO NOT TAKE THIS TRAIL. Continue across the creek straight ahead. Shortly, trail crosses a second creek and turns left. Going straight will take you back to the Locust Spring campground also.

This is a relatively easy two day itinerary (assuming you donít go left on FS 106!) totalling (19 mi) and allows for mostly day packing instead of backpacking (The campsite I used at Locust Spring trail and Laurel Run trail intersection apparently is well used. Alternatives are a nice spot just upstream and across the creek (follow the trail), or several nice areas just across the creek and downstream from this site (on the Cold Spring Run trail).

HIGHLIGHTS: 20 snakes(six species) were found including 15 found along a 100 yard west-facing sunny strip of talus rocks along Laurel Run (totals were 8 northern ringneck, 6 garter, 3 northern water, one red-bellied, one juvenile black rat and one timber rattlesnake). I was charge by a fawn and a mother ruffed grouse, watched a skipper butterfly lay eggs in a towel I held in my hand, saw two yellow bellied woodpeckers, and mushrooms were everywhere, including edible chanterelles, boletes, suphur shelf, and unedible amanitas (see the individual sections below on mammals, insects and mushrooms for details). Great timing for the peak of ďlaurelĒ bloom - both the great and mountain laurel. Laurel Run is appropriately named for rosebay rhododedron lining the Run and lower slopes. An excellent area for study of clubmosses. I found six species of eight that exist in WVA (this area is certainly WVA habitat, although technically, in VA).

Also of note, the Laurel Run and tributaries, as so many wonderful streams in this geographic region, appears to have been scoured out by the hurricane-induced great floods of the mid eighties (Hurricane Gloria and Juan of 1986?). It reminds me of Ramseyís Draft.

The trails in this area follow the timbering railroad grades as much as possible. It is interesting to try to follow the pattern of the former tracks. Many of the grades are spur tracks that dead end. However, it is apparent that footpaths (or wagon paths) extended beyond the ends of some of these tracks to join other spur tracks, etc. further up or downstream. To make the puzzle more interesting, some of these foot/wagon paths are graded to more or less extents as needed. There are a couple of places (on Bearwallow and Slabcamp Run trails) where todayís trail follows a grade to itís dead end, and you end up virtually falling down a rough, poorly marked slope to the creek below where you catch the main grade along the creek bed.

At lower stream crossing of Slabcamp Run trail, is an old heavy cast iron cannister which reads ďFor Freight Car #2, Cleaned and Oiled. Cylinder. Triple.Ē Occassional rails, railroad parts and bituminous coal are found throughout the area.

BOTANY The area along the western edge (the WVA-VA border) has the highest elevations, reaching 4,000 feet. This is actually a boreal forest of spruce in wetter areas and north-facing slopes. (This ridge is the same ridge that includes Spruce Knob - the highest point in WVA - just 10 miles to the north.) Otherwise, hemlock, yellow and black birch dominate with beech, and red maple being co-dominants. Hay-scented ferns, violets and wood sorrel form the sparse herbaceous layer. The eastern, slightly lower, Middle Mountain is drier and consists more of an oak/hickory forest.

The following lists what was found along each trail in the order they were found. Only new plants are mentioned for each trail. However, all birds, reptiles and amphibians, heard or seen, are listed with the number of any one species identified in parenthesis for each trail.

Canopy: BUCK RUN: Red spruce, Hemlock, black and yellow birch, sugar and red maple, beech, basswood, white ash, black cherry, red oak, black locust. BEARWALLOW RUN: A wonderfull trail, although steep at times ascending, with a canopy of yellow birch along the stream and black birch a little upslope. Also, big-toothed aspen. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: Red, white, chestnut oaks, shagbark hickory. SLABCAMP RUN: Nice 75' birch canopy with 50' beech forming the subcanopy. Interesting momentary picture of forest succession. Near top of Locust Spring trail, come into planting of red pine, then spruce. Note the difference in habitat between the two plantings; the pine supporting mtn laurel and ground covers, the red spruce, dark with no groundcover. A few white pine are also found in the area.

Subcanopy: BUCK RUN: Cucumber magnolia, shadbush (fruit). BEARWALLOW RUN: Frasier magnolia (fruit).

Shrub Layer: BUCK RUN: Rosebay rhododendron (bloom), mountain laurel (bloom), mountain holly, striped maple and mountain maple (both in fruit), round-leaved gooseberry, alternate-leaved dogwood, hawthorns. LAUREL RUN: slippery elm, hobblebush, red elderberry (in beautiful red fruit), wild hydrangea, shrubby St. Johnswort. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: Scrub oak and autumn olive (in field near top of ridge). SLABCAMP RUN: Common elderberry (bloom). (Note that the red elderberry is in ripe fruit now.)

Herbaceous Layer: BUCK RUN: Canada mayflower (fruit), foamflower (fruit), Jack-in-the-Pulpit, wood sorrel (bloom), honewort (bloom), field hawkweed (bloom - in open bog areas), rough goldenrod, sedges, grasses and rushes, also in the open bog areas, pink lady slipper (bloom), common toothwort (fruit), enchanterís nightshade (bloom), yellow wood sorrel (bloom), ginger, aniseroot (fruit), bluets (bloom), lettuce saxifrage (fruit), impatiens, ramps (fruit), fairybells, cleavers, trillium, alumroot, sessile bellwort (fruit), stinging nettles (bloom). LAUREL RUN: small sundrops, wintercress, and rough cinquefoil (both in flower among the rocks along the creek), self-heal (bloom), Solomonís seal (fruit), angelica, common yarrow, spatulate pussy-toes, golden saxifrage, blue-eyed grass (bloom), false hellebore, swamp buttercup (bloom), PA bittercress (fruit), early meadowrue. BEARWALLOW RUN: Indian pipes just emerging,common cinquefoil, blue cohosh (fruit), golden ragwort (bloom). CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: White snakeroot foliage, butter and eggs (in field, along with rough goldenrod, hay-scented ferns, and dogbanes), Indian pipes densely emerging at top of Middle Mountain. SLABCAMP RUN: Beautiful forest of birch with ramps (bloom), wood sorrel (bloom), violets and hay scented ferns. At open area around pond near top, are lots of oxe-eye daisies (bloom).

The top linking section of the Locust Spring trail has a nice population of yellow pinesaps just emerging in the red pine plantation.

Ground cover and vines: BUCK RUN: Partridgeberry (bloom), Dutchmanís pipe vine.

Ferns: BUCK RUN: Bracken, cinnamon, interrupted, hay-scented, New York, marginal, intermedia, lady, sensitive, ebony spleenwort, Lycopodium lucidulum, clavatum, annotinum, obscurum, and flabelleforme. BEARWALLOW RUN: Lots of good club mosses. SLABCAMP RUN: Lots of Lycopodium annotinum in lower portion of trail. Just five minutes from FS 106 is a pond with Lycopodium tristachyum on the prominence overlooking the pond.


Amphibians: BUCK RUN: Bull, green frogs, spring peepers, mountain dusky salamanders (4), many red-spotted newts in the beaver dams, red efts (1), slimey salamander. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: Red eft (3) in trail. American toad(2). SLABCAMP RUN: Red eft.

Reptiles: LAUREL RUN: Between the Slabcamp intersection and the Christian Run intersection (about Ĺ mile), there is a west facing talus slope along the Laurel Run that is ideal for snakes. Sunday morning, I found one garter snake sunning on a rock. I started lifting the flat rocks, and about a dozen rocks later, had come across five ring-neck snakes and two northern water snakes in a ten by five foot area (just after the right hand bend in the run). Another garter snake among birch branches. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: Actually, along the Laurel Run, along the same stretch just after Slabcamp trail intersection, along the same talus slope, before departing on the Christian Run trail, I came across a large thick snake, retreating under a large rock along the creek. Not knowing if it was a rattlesnake, I chose not to grab it by hand to pull it out. Rather, I grabbed a stick and pulled out a lot of debris, and got one chance to pull on the body of the snake. Although it was thick and had a diamond side pattern (all I could see), I presumed by habitat (along the stream, and lack of rattle after my disturbance, that it was a large northern water snake. Found another ring-necked snake nearby. Back at campsite, find a garter and northern water snake, and an American toad. At one oclock Monday, go through personal debate whether to be reasonable and go straight back Locust Spring trail (3.5 mile hike, then 4 hour 15 minute car ride back), or risk two stream crossings with full backpack (after already cutting my leg on an underwater ledge) and spending more time searching for snakes along the same stretch (including trying to catch the ďbig one that got awayĒ). So I finally realize I have to 1) check for the snake and 2) do the Slabcamp trail; the only one I havenít done on this trip. I go back to the snake area, turning over rocks and find two northern water snakes, a garter, ring-neck, juvenile black rat and a 9 Ĺ inch red-bellied snake (as well as another American toad). I then went to the same rock where the big snake was found a 2 Ĺ to 3 foot timber rattlesnake (with about ten rattles - meaning, if none were lost, the snake is five or six years old) sunning on the rock. SLABCAMP RUN: Five to ten minutes down from FS 106 is a nice camping area and pond. A large snapping turtle (1 Ĺ ? carapace) was sunning on a log.

Birds: (Note: Some species were calling while others had juveniles out of the nest - like indigo buntings, solitary vireos, and Canada warblers. This resulted in odd calls and nondescript young birds.) BUCK RUN: Veery (2), Indigo bunting, cedar waxwings (many in open bog areas - maybe twenty over the two days), northern juncos (2), chestnut-sided warblers, red-eyed vireo (2), black-throated blue warblers (2), northern parula, acadian flycatcher. LAUREL RUN: bluejays (2 - very loud and scoulding - probably a snake was near the nest), wood thrush, several kingfishers along Laurel Run, Canada warbler, juncos (2), cedar waxwing (2), red-eyed vireo, juvenile indigo bunting. BEARWALLOW RUN: hermit thrush, red-eyed vireo (3), ovenbird. Shortly after being charged by a fawn (see below), I was startled by four young grouse flying away from me and the mother charging from15 yards to about12 yards from me; showing full tail and wing display, making chirping sounds, and running in a different direction from the young. Since I didnít chase her, I didnít see her do her broken wing thing. Junco, chestnut-sided warbler, chipping sparrow, indigo bunting (2), nuthatch, solitary vireos (2), yellow-billed cuckoo, tanager, black-throated blue warbler, yellow-bellied woodpecker, hermit thrush (2). LOCUST SPRING RUN: hermit thrush, tanager, ovenbird, yellow-bellied sapsucker (eating from holes), red-eyed vireo, acadian flycatcher, wood thrush. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: northern parula, acadian flycatcher (4), wood thrush (5), wood peewee (2), barred owl (3, two at one siting, another separately), least flycatcher (5), veery, red-eyed vireo (4), black-throated green warbler (4), black-capped chickadees (4), nuthatch (2), northern towhee, junco, ovenbird, tanager, Canada warbler juvenile and adult. SLABCAMP RUN: Red-eyed vireo (3), tanager (2), junco (2), cedar waxwing(4), chickadees (2), chipping sparrow, raven, hermit thrush, veery.

Mammals: BEARWALLOW RUN: A deer. Then, as Iím walking up the trail, I hear a loud noise behind me and as I turn, I see a fawn charging towards me. It started twenty yards from me, then suddently stopped ten yards from me, hesitates for a second, then runs forty yards away before stopping to look at me. I then walk to where the fawn stopped itís charge to find a still warm, but dead blue jay. You figure. Chipmunks (2). LOCUST SPRING RUN: chipmunks (2), a fawn, scaired up from along the trail, followed 20 yards beyond by two adult deer, no antlers. Then, another deer. CHRISTIAN/COLD SPRING RUN LOOP: Chipmunks (2). SLABCAMP RUN: chipmunk (3).

Insects: BUCK RUN: Several fritillaries along the beaver dam bog. LAUREL RUN: seven tiger swallowtails, including one dark form, feeding on an animal scat. Then, while resting along the stream, a silver-spotted skipper butterfly landed on a frayed paper towel I had in my hand and started laying eggs in it. Over the next fifteen minutes, the skipper layed approximately 50 eggs. It was remarkable watching how the butterfly used itís forked proboscis stretched under itís body to find and prepare a suitable bed for each egg, and then tuck each egg into the paper media. Just as intriguing, was watching the abdomen, curled under, as each egg was ďpoppedĒ out 2 or 3 mm to the prepared site. This was observed with the use of a 20x hand lens as the butterfly, intent on egg-laying, was undeterred by my close up observing. While this was going on, I also watched two males vying for mating rights with a female of the same skipper species. SLABCAMP RUN: Allegheny mound ants.

Mushrooms: Amanitas common throughout the region. Magenta coral was found twice, slimecap once. Some chanterelles were found on Slabcamp Run and boletes were found several places.

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DATE: June 27, 1998

LOCATION: Rip Rap Trail, Southern District, SNP

GEOLOGY:Hampton and Erwin Formations of the Chilhowee Group. Many Skolithus linearis burrow fossils in the Erwin Formation.

HIGHLIGHTS: We did the 7.5 mile hike from the Rip-Rap parking lot, using a shuttle from the Wildcat Ridge parking lot to eliminate the two mile walk along the Appalachian trail. This hike is along sandstones ridges dominated by ericaceous members (eleven species in all - more if the blueberries were keyed out). A few catawba rhododendron were found at the stream crossing just above the pool and former shelter site. Pale corydalis was found around Calvary Rocks in bloom.

An Audubon Naturalist Society  hike was done 6-17-2006, with the following noted:  Many American chestnut and Allegheny chinkapin were in bloom.  Several pinesaps were blooming along Wildcat Ridge.  Indian pipes were just emerging.  Turkey beard and fly poison were in bloom.  Catawba Rhododendron petals had just fallen on the ground.  Additional herbaceous bloomers added blue stargrass, gray beardstongue, whorled loosestrife and bristly sarsaparilla.  Lycopodium tristachyum was also found on Wildcat Ridge near the pinesaps. 


Canopy: Oaks dominated (chestnut, post, red), with red maple, black gum, black and some yellow birch, mockernut hickory, black cherry, hemlock (along creek), tuliptree.

Subcanopy: Witch hazel, sassafras, Va pine, shadbush, striped maple, flowering dogwood, table mountain pine, scrub oak.

Shrub Layer: Mountain laurel, blueberries (early low blueberries were just becoming edible), black huckleberry, deerberry, maleberry, both pinxter and roseum azalea, and minnie-bush dominated, with the noted few catawba rhodos (all of these are ericaceous members). Also, maple leaf viburnum (fruit).

Herbaceous Layer: Rattlesnake weed, large houstonia (bloom), wild sarsasparilla, wood betony (fruit), whorled coreopsis (bloom), alumroot (fruit), flowering raspberry (bloom), pale corydalis (bloom), turkey beard (past bloom - appears floral tips have rotted out), fly poison, yellow star grass (bloom), scotch broom (bloom).  2006 added blue stargrass, gray beardstongue, whorled loosestrife.

Ground cover and vines: Teaberry and trailing arbutus (both ericaceous), red and black raspberries, spotted wintergreen (bloom), Virginia creeper, round-leaved greenbriar, wild yam, Lycopodium flabellaforme, partridgeberry, Rattlesnake plaintain (bud).

Ferns: Bracken, Christmas, intermedia, spinulose (carthusiana), lots of marginal, interrupted, cinnamon, hay-scented, New York, polypody, lady.




Birds: Ovenbird, towhee (3), vireo, indigo bunting, black-capped chickadee, great crested flycatcher, red-eyed vireo (2).

Mammals: A restful raccoon in a tree was most entertaining.

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DATE: June 6, 1998

LOCATION:Huckleberry Trail (formerly called Flat Peter Trail) near Interior, VA

GEOLOGY: Lower Devonian and Silurian undifferentiated sandstones and shales

HIGHLIGHTS: This is a nice 8 mile loop trail that goes up into a virgin growth of hemlock, spruce and deciduous forest (small area) and comes back down another valley before looping back to the starting point. The trail should be done counter-clockwise as listed in Allen de Hartís book Hiking in the Old Dominion (a Sierra Club Totebook) since a two or three year old clearcut takes up the last mile of the final leg. The guidebook was written before the clear cut and it appears that the last section has reduced the length of the trail by at least a half a mile, making the hike more like a 7, or 7 Ĺ , mile hike. This would have been a four star hike if not for this clear cut. As it is, it is still a worth while hike (the clearing allows for different species of plants and birds). At this time, the trail is being cleared (not clear cut), as it looks like no maintenance has been done for five to ten years. The old yellow blazes are hard to follow, but a forest ranger indicated that the whole trail was being opened up this season. An excellent campsite (three or four tents) is found about a mile and a half into the hike, just across a footbridge over a creek (canít miss it). NOTE: The directions in the guidebook list the turn off as route 772, Kelly Flats Road, with a sign reading ďGlen AltonĒ. In fact, it is route 722 and the road sign reads Glen Alton, not Kelly Flats. At the end of the road, take the right fork and immediately park. The lower left gate is where you will return.

The following is a narrative description of the hike.

The trail starts in a shaley habitat. Starting at the gate, walk along the road noting a canopy of chestnut, black and white oak, hemlock, white ash, flowering dogwood, sourwood, VA pine, red maple, pitch pine, hawthorn, fire cherry, black locust and shrub layer of deerberry (bloom), spicebush, autumn olive (fruit), black huckleberry, witch hazel. The herbaceous layer consists of wild geranium (bloom), field hawkweed (bloom), blackberry (bloom), teaberry, black cohosh, common fleabane(bloom), yellow star grass (blooom), rattlesnake weed (Bloom), trailing arbutus, fire pink (bloom), balsam ragwort (bloom), mouse-eared chickweed (bloom), golden ragwort, alumroot (bloom), galax and a lot of coltsfoot along the road. Christmas and bracken ferns and L flabelleforme, are also seen. (Chestnut-sided warbler, wood thrush, ovenbird, red-eyed vireo heard.) Just before the trail turns right off the road, an eastern chinquapin is found in bloom on the right.

Turning uphill to the right, enter a sparse oak forest with teaberry, spotted wintergreen, trailing arbutus, hawkweed and blueberries. Specific canopy trees include sourwood, chestnut and a few large white oak, shadbush, blackgum, pignut hickory, with a limited subcanopy of striped maple (which is in fruit, while mountain maple is in bloom. Also, the striped maple foliage is generally larger and smoother, while the mountain maple leaf appears more leathery and the veins are generally more recessed, giving a more flat gloss appearance.), sassafras, cucumber magnolia. Additional herbs include squawroot and large round-leaved orchid. (Ovenbird, worm-eating and red-eyed vireo, northern junco.)

Reaching the creek and turning upstream, mountain laurel (bloom), and rosebay rhododendron line the trail. (Winter wren, black-throated green warbler, heard.) Other new plants seen include painted trillium (fruit), tulip tree, and roundleaf gooseberry. Indian cucumber root, VA creeper, greenbriar, New York fern, halberd-leaved violet (fruit), big- toothed aspen, and some very robust southern mountain cranberries are found shortly before crossing the creek.

Crossing the creek, cinnamon fern and smooth alders are found growing along the banks. Largeleaf (mountain) holly (bloom) is found nearby. Travelling upstream, some black cherry, black birch and basswood joins the community, with blueberries, minnie-bush, greenbriar, rattlesnake plantain (bloom), as well as southern arrowwood (bloom) and speedwell (bloom). (Northern parula, red eyed vireo, acadian flycatcher, veery, Canada warbler heard.) Further along, richer soil adds fairy bells, L. obscurum, just before coming up to a logging railroad wheel and axle. Immediately ahead, cross the creek and find a good campsite.

Leaving the campsite, cross a small tributary and find a young buttonbush along the margin. Turning upstream, numerous pink lady slippers (bloom) are found along the trail. (Black and white warbler, ovenbird, scarlet tanager.) Partridgeberry is found among the large overhead rosebay rhododendron following the watercourse. Reaching an upland drier area, wild sarsasparilla and heart-leaved skullcap are found. (Canada warbler, scarlet tanager, ovenbird, veery, red-eyed vireo.)

After three miles from the start, reach the virgin growth of hemlock trees. The largest is a dead hemlock with a diameter of 34". Several live ones are about 30" and one blackgum is 32", and a cucumber magnolia is 22" diameter. There is no sign of the woolly hemlock adelgid (unlike the Cascades - see 6-4-98). (Another Canada warbler, wood thrush, red- eyed vireo, eastern wood peewee.) Foamflower (fruit) and interrupted and cinnamon fern are found along the moss covered wet rocks.

Leaving the close canopy of the old growth hemlock grove, the sloping land opens up with cinnamon fern, wild geranium and white baneberry. Sweet buckeye is also found in the open woods.

The drier, sandstone saddle is reached with golden alexanders (bloom), fly poison (bloom), flame azalea (bloom), mountain laurel (bloom), vernal iris, whorled loosestrife (bloom). (Rufous-sided towhee, black-throated blue and Canada warbler .)

Starting the descent, shortly pass a primitive campsite (not very level, but fire ring established), and enter wet woods with yellow birch dominant. Shortly, upslope on the left, a nice overhang enables a nice respite from rain or heat. Further down along the stream, VA waterleaf (bloom) and substantial nettles have dominated a recently opened slope (tree fall). (3 Acadian flycatchers over the next mile and a half, wood thrush found on itís nest with two young.) Wild hydrangea, common speedwell (bloom), common cinquefoil (bloom), and an American holly are found before reaching the clear cut.

Shortly after reaching the clear cut, a nice bog area is on the right. It contains cinnamon ferns, highbush blueberry, dense St. Johnswort, broad-leaved spirea, willow, and rush.

Continuing through the grassy clearings, three types of lespedezas (one being hairy bush clover), field hawkweed (bloom), spiked lobelia (bloom), racemed milkwort (bloom), and a vetch are found. (Indigo bunting and two sitings of towhee, pileated woodpecker.)

Return to car.


Amphibians: Slimy salamander. In two tire ruts in the clearcut, were two types of tadpoles, one brownish and the other mostly black (wood frogs and toads?).


Birds: See text

Mammals: Chipmunk, two squirrels.

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DATE: June 5, 1998

LOCATION: War Spur Trail; Mountain Lake, VA

GEOLOGY: Lower Devonian and Silurian Formations, undivided (mainly sandstones in this area.)

HIGHLIGHTS: Virgin Forest. Largest trees were two 36" hemlock; 32" red spruce; and a 30" red oak. Large mountain holly and hobblebush were also in the area. Also, watched a slug eating a lichen on a tree.

Short (~3 mile) hike including War Spur overlook. Hike is described improperly in Hiking the Old Dominion by Allen de Hart, a Sierra Club Totebook, my copy published in 1984. In his book, the Chestnut and War Spur trail names are reversed. Otherwise, OK.

Starting at the sign, I went straight on the War Spur trail. Being a sandstone ridge, an oak canopy with an ericaceous shrub layer is not unexpected. I then took the R through the virgin forest, continuing to a L on the Chestnut trail to the War Spur overlook. I then took the Chestnut trail all the way back to the parking lot.


Canopy: White, black, and chestnut oaks, blackgum, red maple. Red spruce and hemlock in virgin forest area.

Subcanopy: Shadbush, cucumber magnolia, sassafras.

Shrub Layer: Southern mountain cranberry, flame azalea, deerberry (bloom), minnie-bush, mountain laurel (bloom), smooth azalea (bloom - at creek). (All members of the ericaceous family.) Also, American chestnut, hobblebush, mountain holly (bloom).

Herbaceous Layer: Wild geranium (bloom), golden alexanders, great solomonís seal (fruit), yellow star grass (bloom), galax (bloom), fire pink (bloom), rattlesnake weed (bloom), American lily-of-the-valley, trailing arbutus, black snakeroot, wild sarsasparilla, white clintonia (bloom and fruit), fly poison, tassel rue (at creek).

Ground cover and vines: Raspberries (bloom), dewberry, wild yam, blackberries.

Ferns: Cinnamon, bracken, New York.


Amphibians: slimy salamander


Birds: Ovenbird, 2 red-eyed vireo, northern parula, wood thrush,


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DATE: June 4, 1998

LOCATION: Cascades trail, near Pembroke, VA

GEOLOGY: Upper Ordovician (thrust zone of landslide with shale, mudstone and sandstone) and higher elevation Lower Devonian (landslides including sandstones)

HIGHLIGHTS: Beautiful waterfalls. Nice overlook at Barneyís Wall. The Cascades Trail is a national recreational trail, designated in 1979. This trail is described in Hiking the Old Dominion by Allen de Hart, a Sierra Club Totebook, my copy published in 1984. (Note: Book route crosses Little Stoney Creek and follows upstream for a mile before crossing back. However, at this time, the trail going across the creek is closed.)

The following is a narrative of my hike to the falls and beyond, on the Conservancy trail, to Barneyís Wall and back; a total of about 7 miles.

Starting at the Cascades Picnic area (donít try to spend the night - another story), the trail enters a rich area of dense layers of vegetation. The canopy includes beech, sweet buckeye, white ash, sugar maple, black walnut, sycamore, mockernut and shagbark hickory, basswood, black locust, tuliptree, hemlock, black birch, with a subcanopy of hop hornbeam, boxelder, slippery elm, witch hazel, cucumber magnolia, hackberry, and redbud. The shrub layer includes wild hydrangea, roundleaf gooseberry, spicebush, with a herbaceous layer of wingstem, aniseroot (bloom), garlic mustard (fruit), wild geranium(fruit), alumroot (bloom), wild stonecrop (flower and fruit), tall meadowrue (bloom), clustered snakeroot (fruit), nettles, impatiens, christmas and polypody ferns, round leaved pyrola, golden alexanders, showy skullcap, cancerroot, solomonís seal, VA waterleaf (bloom), black snakeroot (bud), large-flowered bellwort (fruit), sharp-lobed hepatica, early meadowrue, bloodroot, fairybells (fruit), great chickweed, heal-all, wood betony (fruit), fire pink (bloom), and lianas of wild grape, Virginia creeper and dutchmanís pipe vine. (Birds heard include indigo buntings, red-eyed vireo, northern parula, scarlet tanager, acadian flycatcher, and phoebe.)

Travelling more upslope (about 3/4 mile), northern red, chestnut and white oak, blackgum, yellow birch joins in the crowded canopy. (Wood thrush is heard). Rosebay rhododendron (some in bloom), hawthorn (C. macrosperma), striped maple, join the shrubs with Canada mayflower, Jack-in-the-pulpit, round-leaved violet, spikenard, added to the herbaceous layer.

Continuing the ascent (about 1 1/4 mile), with a talus slope clearing on the left, pass burdock with a bitternut hickory just beyond on the right side of the trail, well above the creek, with a white elderberry (bud) just downslope. Shortly ahead, bladdernuts are encountered with ginger nearby. Along the sunny rock exposures, Virginia creeper, greenbriars, blackberries (bloom) and flowering raspberries (bloom) are found. (Scarlet tanager, tufted titmouse, northern parula heard.) A small butternut is found among the rocks. Mountain holly, mountain maple (bloom), and American chestnut (bloom) is found along the talus below the trail. Looking across the gorge, the hemlocks are seen to be seriously damaged by the woolly hemlock adelgids. Blunt-lobed woodsia and more wild stonecrop (bloom) is along the right side of the trail on the rocks.

Shortly ahead (about a mile and 1/2) is a massive cliff outcrop on the left. Found along this stretch are wild roses, fire pink (bloom), common St Johnswort, impatiens, sassafras and red elderberry (fruit). Just beyond the cliff, marginal and some intermedia wood ferns, alumroot and an alternate-leaved dogwood (fruit) are on the left, with ebony spleenwort on right with sweet cherry. Look for the fossilized ripple marks in the sandstone-shale rocks.

After taking the right spur trail to the falls, mountain laurel shows up. Along the creek, lots of brachiopod fossils (mollusks) are in the rocks.

At the falls, columbine (bloom) is growing on the cliff wall on the far side of the creek. Around the platform, red-stem dogwood (or possibly narrow-leaf dogwood) is found with swamp buttercup and angelica. Also at the falls is flowering raspberry (bloom), largeleaf holly (bloom), mapleleaf viburnum (bloom), wild hydrangea (bud), and white clintonia (fruit).

Taking the upper walkway to the left, proceed uphill to the clearing, where you pick up the Conservancy trail (to the left, you can reconnect with the Cascades trail back to the beginning). (Canada warbler seen/heard. Also several northern juncos and a groundhog.) Take the trail uphill to the right. New York fern on left. Galax foliage soon on left, with halberd-leaved violets,wild yam and clematis. (Black-throated blue and another tanger.) Alternate-leaved dogwood on right. ( Phoebe, black and white and another black-throated blue warbler.) More galax (bloom) become prominent, with foamflower and wild sarsasparilla. At a rock outcrop overlook on the right displays painted trillium, partridgeberry, hay-scented fern, Indian cucumber root and American lily-of-the-valley (not the introduced species). (Two more Canada warblers heard.) Only a few feet beyond, on the left is evergreen ginger (Asarum virginicum). 100 feet ahead is the fork, with the right fork going downhill to the upper falls. At the fork, cinnamon fern and indian cucumber root (bloom) is on the right.

Taking the right fork downhill to the upper falls, reach the falls in 100 yards or so. Along the creekbank, hobblebush (fruit), smooth alder, smooth azalea (R. arborescens), southern wild raisin (bloom), flowering dogwood, with tassel rue among the rocks.

Taking the left fork uphill, geology is leaving shales and becoming typical ericaceous sandstone forest (lower Devonian). Take another left fork in twenty yards after passing teaberry and trailing arbutus on right. Staying with the left fork, bracken fern and southern low blueberry (fruit) are joined by sourwood and southern mountain-cranberry (bloom), flame azalea (bloom, with leathery foliage look) and minnie-bush (fruit), with prenanthes foliage throughout. (Note that southern mountain-cranberry foliage is consistently marked by a yellow leaf spot fungus. This is found throughout the region and is only on the southern mountain-cranberry species.) Dwarf rattlesnake plantain is found along trail along with deerberry (bloom, with pubescent bottom of leaf), and black oak. (Black-throated green warbler heard.)

At next trail intersection (0.9 miles above first falls), stay to left going through rhododendron thicket surrounding a small watercourse. Bluets are found at this intersection among the grasses. The summit of the ridge is reached shortly, with a black, chestnut, and white oak forest, with some r ed maple and chestnut sprouts. (Black-throated green and black and white warbler, wood thrush, scarlet tanager, veery, hairy woodpecker, chestnut-sided warbler and red-eyed vireo heard - all but the first two found along the summit.) Yellow stargrass is found in the grassy trail with balsam ragwort in the clearing (with several old fire rings) just before the side trail to Barneyís Wall.

Taking the left fork to Barneyís Wall, field hawkweed, rattlesnake weed (bloom), and whorled loosestrife (bud) abound along the trail. (Veery, red-eyed vireo, wood thrush, heard.) Reach Barneyís Wall in 0.4 miles with table mountain pine at summit. Excellent views! Large round-leaved orchid foliage and galax (bloom) just before reaching rocks.

Return to beginning, or use Allen de Hartís book to continue to Butts Mountain for an 11.2 mile trip.

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DATE: June 2,1998

LOCATION:Cranberry Glades, WV

GEOLOGY: the Mississippian Mauch Chunk Group; a series of shales and sandstones.

HIGHLIGHTS: The first hike is along the Cranberry Glades boardwalk. The night before found wood cocks doing their sky dancing in the bog. Hyla versicolor and the cricket frog were heard. More woodcocks were found at the campsite near the beginning of the Cow Pasture trail. The second hike listed here is the 5.5 mile Cow Pasture trail, which loops around the Glades. The highlight of this trip was the heart-leaved twayblade and the Frasierís sedge, both in flower. Robert Hunsucker and Dottie Simpkins provided information on mushrooms, sedges (Carex), grasses, and birds.

The following is a narrative of what was found along the boardwalk as we walked counter-clockwise around the quarter-mile trail.

Starting the walk, enter the deciduous forest of black birch, beech and red maple. At the base of the information sign (at the junction of the loop trail), the wrinkly Carex plantaginea, Carex scabrata and foamflower (fruit and flower) is found. Also, common elderberry, ginger, marsh marigold (fruit), tall meadowrue (flower), and cinnamon fern is found.

As the boardwalk reaches the open bog, black chokeberry, northern wild-raisin and minnie-bush are in bloom, as is the groundcover Canada mayflower. Small cranberry (V. oxycoccus) was in bloom with large cranberry (V. macrocarpon) apparently not in bud yet. By the first sign on the left was the pitcher plant (bloom), and the bog rosemary (fruit). Smooth alder makes up the majority of the shrub layer on the right. Behind the alders on drier ground are hemlock and amelanchier (shadbush). Swamp candles foliage is emerging on the right along the boardwalk. Galerina mushrooms and manna grass (Glyceria sp.) are nearby.

Reentering the shrubs, water starwort is found as submerged aquatic vegetation. Monkshood, swamp buttercup (fruit and flower), turtlehead, late goldenrod, and PA bittercress (flower) make up some of the herbaceous plants along the water course, with northern arrowwood, deciduous holly and Bartrams shadbush (elongated fruit) found as woodies.

Continuing out of the woods and back into the open bog, round-leaved sundews can be found around the sign on the left of the boardwalk among the bristly dewberry.

Re-entering the woods again, wild sarsasparilla (fruit) and yellow clintonia (fruit) is found, with spicebush, mountain laurel, black and yellow birch joining the shrub layer. A mourning cloak is seen. Moving into slightly higher and drier habitat, red oak , sugar maple, basswood, black cherry, and mountain maple is encountered.

Returning to the beginning of the loop, purple-stemmed aster is found with black snakeroot foliage, sweet cicely (fruit), miterwort (flower), smooth blackberry and meehania (flower).

Birds seen/heard on the boardwalk hike included yellowthroats, red-eyed and solitary vireos, cedar waxwings, chimney swifts, hermit thrush wood duck and turkey vultures.

The second hike was the 5.5 mile Cow Pasture loop trail that goes around the Cranberry Glades.

The trail starts at the end of FR102, at the parking lot. Proceeding a quarter of a mile along the road to the right turn onto the Cow Pasture trail, pass a young forest of hemlocks, black birch, sugar and red maple and beech. Interrupted ferns are along the road ditch on the left. Taking the trail to the right, you soon come to the open bog and a footbridge over the Cranberry River, the drainage of the Cranberry Glades. Chokecherries (fruit) and spotted alders line the watercourse. (Chestnut-sided warbler heard.) Artistís conch (Ganoderma) found. Mountain ash (flower), shadbush and sweet buckeye are found on the margins of the woods overlooking the open bogs. Dense St Johnswort, narrowleaf spirea, and rough-stemmed goldenrod fill the open meadows, with an occasional hawthorn (both the C. punctata and macrosperma) invading the openings.

Approach an opening on the right after Ĺ mile, with old beaver dam and good views over the Glades. (Cedar waxwing flock of 8 - 10. Also, Indigo bunting.) Fire cherry (fruit) along the trail.

Continuting along the trail, (Black-throated blue warbler heard.) Shadbush (fruit), and northern wild-raisin (bloom) are found among the shrubs, with golden ragwort (bloom), L. annotinum, L. obscurum, hayscented fern, New York fern, Va waterleaf (flower), phlox and star chickweed (in foliage, note the great chickweed stem and branches have two fine hairy lines). Shortly, come across some large sugar maple and yellow birch. Broadgill mushrooms found (Tricholomopsis) - are found occassionally throughout the area. Also, the cluster crumblecap (Psathyrella) is found.

Ascending uphill, ash, red maple, black cherry and beech are found, with yellow birch, hemlock and red spruce still common. Herbaceous plants include lots of wood anemone, blue cohosh (fruit), painted trillium (with dark red fruit), large round-leaved orchid (bud), sweet white violet (bloom), two -leaved toothwort , clustered snakeroot, L. clavatum, and the heart-leaved twayblade (flower). Roof mushroom (Pluteus) found. (Ovenbird, pileated woodpecker and red-eyed vireo heard.)

Reach wet area on left where marsh violets, swamp buttercup (bloom), foamflower (fruit), wood sorrel (bloom) and the broad leaved Carex plantaginea is found in seed. Bristly dewberry, great Indian plantain and common cinquefoil (bloom) are also found. (Shortly ahead, a Blackburnian warbler is sighted.)

Further ahead, on drier upland, northern red oak is found, with mountain laurel (bloom) overlooking an open bog tributary to the glades.

At this point, a large wet area with PA bittercress and cinnamon and sensitive fern is encountered on the left, with a small footbridge over the watercourse (stream has darters and re-spotted newts). (Blue grosbeak pair found in a hemlock tree.)

Shortly ahead is an apparent bear trail that leads across the glades. Area rich in bear scat and recently chewed skunk cabbage. A bushwhack through the alders and out into the glades presents a good birding opportunity.

Ascend through clearing with field hawkweed, common cinquefoil, stout blue-eyed grass (bloom) and rough-stemmed goldenrod, with hawthorns, staghorn sumac in the clearing and sweet buckeye on the wooded border.

Returning back to the woods, alternate-leaved dogwood (bloom) is found on the right just beyond the small footbridge over the creek. (Blackburnian, chestnut-sided warblers, Indigo buntings and cedar waxwings heard). A nice campsite is on the left (for one tent) just before entering the clearing of the Cranberry River.

At the footbridge of the Cranberry River, an alder flycatcher is found by the creek. Ascending uphill to the old road, pass more rough-stemmed goldenrod, milkweed with silky willow and hawthorns. Meadow parsnip (bloom) is along the trail. The trail now proceeds through an sloping, uphill, well-drained forest. White ash, black locust and large diameter cherries join the canopy. A rich soil finds fairy bells,jack-in-the-pulpit, intermedia wood fern, Carex pennsylvanica, and halbert-leaved violet. One particularly rich ravine contains Frasiers sedge (bloom), as well as wood sorrel (bloom), painted trillium, mayapple, Canada mayflower (bloom), and L. Lucidulum. A large sulphur shelf (Laetiporus) is found on a tree. (Black-throated blue warbler heard.) In a wet rut in the road, the clammy hedge hyssop is found. Further along the road, sedum ternatum (bloom) is found along a culvert, with rosebay rhododendron located in some wet areas.

A clearing is eventually encountered on the downsloping right side, where a railroad stop apparently was located, with apple trees still surviving and a large population of the great Indian plantain. Hobblebush (fruit) is found along the trail with lilies and L. clavatum nearby. (Song sparrow heard.) Wild balsam apple (bloom) also seen.

Trail opens up with the open headwaters of the glade appearing on the right. Shortly, trail turns right across the open meadow and intersects FR 180 at the front steps of the former federal prison. Cedar waxwings, bluejays and flickers are seen in the fields. Trail soon rejoins the road just before the Cranberry Glades boardwalk.


Amphibians: (All following were found on the Cow Pasture loop): Five-lined skink, mountain dusky, red efts, spring salamander


Birds:(See text)

Mammals: Chipmunks.

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DATE:June 2, 1998

LOCATION: Pocahontas Trail, Cranberry Backcountry WVA. (From Eagles Camp on Rte 39, along the Eagle Camp Trail - TR 259 for one mile, to the Pocahontas Trail - TR 263; east 7.8 miles to the Visitorís Center, and then 2.4 miles to the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area (the boardwalk) - and on to the end of FR 102, totalling 11.6 miles.

GEOLOGY: Includes the upper Mississippian Bluestone and Princeton Formations of the Mauch Chunk Group (in the lower elevations) and the lower Pennsylvanian New River Formation of the Pottsville Group (in the higher elevations). The former group is mostly shale and sandstone, while the latter group is predominantly sandstone.

HIGHLIGHTS: This trail is an uplands hike through the northern hardwoods forest consisting of red maple, birch, hemlock and red spruce. A highlight was the mountain wood fern (Dryopteris campylopteris) and the white-flowering monkshood (Aconitum reclinatum).

The following is a description of the trail.

Crossing the footbridge over the creek, common elderberry (bud) is by the creek. Hemlock, red spruce, red and sugar maple, beech, yellow and black birch, black cherry, form the canopy, striped maple, rosebay rhododendron, witch hazel, mountain holly (with the lighter colored and larger leaves, longer (accuminate) leaf tips, and more upland habitat) making up the shrub layer, with rough-stemmed goldenrod, raspberries, New York fern, hay-scented fern, intermedia wood fern, christmas fern, sensitive fern (in the wet areas), golden ragwort (bloom), whorled loosestrife (bud and bloom), Canada mayflower, Lycopodium obscurum, Indian cucumber root, wood sorrel (flower), blue cohosh, mayapples, golden saxifrage (in the water), and tick trefoils found in the herbaceous layer.

After joining up with the Pocahontas Trail, ramps, in bud and flower begin to show up and become quite common. Walking along the trail above Rte 39, cucumber magnolia, basswood, shows up in the canopy, with foamflower (fruit), lettuce saxifrage (bloom), nettles, halberd-leaved violets, common cinquefoil, L. flabelleforme and dutchmanís pipevine along the trail. A nice, although small, campsite is found along a stream, about a half mile beyond the Eagle Camp trail intersection with the Pocahontas trail.

Beyond this point, fraser magnolia (the fraser magnolia bark is smooth, while the cucumber magnolia bark is vertically, and narrowly stripped), joins the canopy, with hop hornbeam in the shrub layer, and large round-leaved orchid (bud), L. Lucidulum, fairy bells, wood anemone, jack-in-the-pulpit, painted trillium (fruit), cut-leaved toothwort (foliage yellowing), Canada mayflower (bloom), common greenbriar (bloom), yellow clintonia and a profusion of round-leaved violets now seen in the herbaceous layer.

Crossing the road, (Rte 39), shortly, you come to a parking lot on the south side of Rte 39. Just before reaching the parking lot, roundleaf gooseberry is found with beautiful cinnamon, crested ferns , northern wild-raisin (bloom) and sedges along the wet watercourse with a number of hemlocks and red spruce. Adjacent to these wet inhabitants is a foot higher area with L. clavatum, L. obscurum, bracken fern and bristly dewberry.

Camping sites can be found around the parking lot, with the best a quarter mile east, through the spruce forest and across the foot bridge, through the bog, into the woods again. Bulbous buttercup (bloom), and mountain laurel (bloom), are found along the edge of the woods bordering the stream.

Begin ascent of Spruce Mountain and enter rich herbaceous growth including false hellebore (fruit), , tall meadowrue (bloom), angelica, fairy bells (fruit), Solomonís seal (fruit), toothwort (fruit), white baneberry (fruit), white monkshood (bud), ladyís fern, and sweet white violet (bloom). New shrubs include hobblebush viburnum, common winterberry holly, and wild hydrangea. (Solitary vireo seen).

As ascent continues, red oak, white ash (two 30" diameter), black cherry (24" dia) and beech join in. Both cucumber magnolias are common ( 24" cucumber dia). A 36" dia sugar maple is soon encountered. (Veery heard).

Reaching summit, northern red oak dominates with numerous cherry and shagbark hickories. Flame azaleas (some still in bloom). Lilium foliage is commonly found. Star chickweed (bloom), cow parsnip, wild geranium (bloom), jewelweed (wet area), meadow parsnip (bloom), rattlesnake fern, aniseroot (bloom), and large leaf waterleaf (bloom). Two spider egg cases were found just opened, with hundreds of spiderlets emerging. (Blue-gray gnatcatchers, red-eyed vireos, scarlet tanagers heard).

Descending to the visitorsí center, enter area with virtually no shrub layer. A fairly solid herbaceous of nettles, large leaf waterleaf, blue cohosh, impatiens, and hairy-jointed parsnips. The trees are all of the same age, about fifty years old, consisting mainly of white ash. Beyond this area, silvery spleenwort can be found. With the visitorís center in site, taking the right fork (the left fork goes to the parking lot), takes you past meehania (bloom), and alternate-leaved dogwood (bloom). (Black-throated green warbler heard.)

In front of the visitorís center, in the mowed front yard, mouse-eared and orange hawkweed, ground ivy, yellow oxalis, and common speedwell, all in bloom.

Continuing across Rte 39, more or less taking the Cranberry Volkswalk, you shortly enter a young spruce and red pine forest, with good camping sites. Big toothed aspen and mountain maple (bloom) ( mountain maple foliage smaller and more leathery than striped maple) can be found. Various routes can be taken to the boardwalk. (If you walk 100 yards down Rte 150 to the gated road, this can be followed straight to the boardwalk. This is the old entrance road to the Mill point federal prison. After a mile, or so, youíll come up to the existing front steps of the main building. This prison was operational from 1938 until 1959, mainly hosting the high ranking Japanese prisoners of war. It was considered a very luxurious accomodation, with some prisoners given visits to the nearby White Sulphur Springs resort. Considering the remoteness of the facility, (and the care provided), fences were not needed as no one had an interest in escaping.


Amphibians: Mountain dusky, northern dusky, seal, slimey, juvenile mudpuppy,


Birds: Birds included blue grosbeak pair at the trailhead, northern parula, black- throated blue warbler, numerous juncos, red-eyed and solitary vireo, scarlet tanager, black- throated green warbler, yellow-bellied sapsucker, winter wren, a robin nest with three eggs, raven,

Mammals: Chipmunk

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DATE: May 23, 1998

LOCATION: Bull Run Mountain, VA

GEOLOGY: Weverton Sandstone

HIGHLIGHTS: This was an ANS trip to the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area (currently 800 acres) run by the Friends of Bull Run. It includes the area just north of Thoroughfare Gap (this is the area along I-66 where the five story stone Beverly Mill can be seen on the right as you drive through the gap). Without a doubt, the highlight was the outstanding display of ferns along the westernmost unnamed trail (west of the Quarry Trench trail) including all three of the Osmunda ferns within twenty feet of each other. This particular site has the largest bed of Royal ferns Iíve ever seen (maybe twenty plants covering an area 15'x20'). All three were in full ďfertile frondĒ. Large beds of ladyís fern, Christmas and broad beech fern were also located along this unnamed tributary. Additionally, the largest persimmon Iíve ever seen was found at the intersection of the Mountain and Ridge trails.


This area is a typical sandstone dry oak-hickory forest with blackgum and a rich ericaceous shrub layer with mesophytic communities along the watercourses.

Canopy: Tuliptree, black walnut, beech, sycamore, white, black, red, scarlet, chestnut oaks, ailanthus, black locust, pitch pine, Va pine, table mountain pine, mockernut hickory.

Subcanopy: Spicebush, redbud, flowering dogwood, black cherry, white ash, American and silppery elm, ironwood, hop hornbeam, blackgum, persimmon, sweet cherry, hackberry, sassafras, pignut hickory, butternut, fringetree (flower-past peak), big- toothed aspen, paulownia, witch hazel, common elderberry (flower), paw paw.

Shrub Layer: Japanese multiflora rose, Wine raspberry, American chestnut, mountain laurel (flower), blueberry, huckleberry, azalea, mapleleaf viburnum, smooth sumac, deerberry (flower).

Herbaceous Layer: Jack-in-the-Pulpit (flower), cleavers (flower), prenanthes, spotted wintergreen (bud), trailing arbutus, yellow stargrass (flower), yellow wood sorrel (flower), lyre-leaved sage (flower), large-leaved houstonia (flower), black snakeroot, slender and cut-leaf toothwort (fruit), garlic mustard (flower and fruit), common cinquefoil (flower), indian pipes (just emerging), whorled loosestrife (flower and bud), raspberry, St. Andrewsí cross, dogbane, alumroot (flower), skunk cabbage, rue anemone (fruit), tall meadowrue, spikenard, wingstem, ground ivy (flower), indian cucumber root.

Ground cover and vines: Moonseed, Japanese stiltweed (microstegium?), wild yam, poison ivy, honeysuckle, smilax (flower).

Ferns: Christmas, hay-scented (some very large), New York, bracken, broad beech, royal, cinnamon (five foot tall-note many fertile fronds already wilting), interrupted, marginal wood, fancy (intermedia), ebony spleenwort, rattlesnake fern, sensitive.


Amphibians: Four American toads.

Reptiles: Male box turtle, five-lined skink.

Birds: Red-eyed vireo, wood thrush, eastern peewee, blue jay, great crested flycatcher, pine warbler, Lousiana waterthrush, Carolina wren, chickadee, re-bellied woodpecker, robin, ovenbird, northern towhee, scarlet tanager, turkey vulture, and a turkey.

Mammals: Dead short-tailed shrew in trail, chipmunk, many deer tracks.

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DATE: May 17, 1998

LOCATION: Great Falls, VA and Difficult Run, VA

GEOLOGY: Schists and metagraywackes of the Mather Gorge pre-Cambrian formation.

HIGHLIGHTS: The morning at Great Falls was a birding trip with 28 species heard or seen by myself. Of interest, was watching the female Baltimore Oriole enter and leave her nest. Also, the large black rat snake in the tree harassed by the great crested flycatcher was interesting. The afternoon was on my own down Difficult Run to Black Pond where Clematis viorna (leather flower), small-flowered phacelia, blunt-leaved sandwort, blue false indigo, and star-flowered Solomonís seal were in bloom, along with a very large bed of twinleaf in fruit (as big as the Tinker Mtn population). A 13" red bellied turtle and two snapping turtles were found. Additionally, another large herring (?) was found thrashing around in the shallows of Black Pond (like at Masonís Neck on 5-16-98). Finding the old mill site and race on the east side of Difficult Run was interesting.

In the following listings, the species found at Great Falls will be listed first and any new species found at Difficult Run will be added secondly.


Canopy: Sycamore, white ash, ailanthus, red, white, chestnut, scarlet, willow oak, tulip tree, blackgum, beech, red maple, black walnut. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added hemlock, bald cypress, silver and sugar maple.

Subcanopy: Ironwood, redbud, basswood, river birch, box elder, paw-paw, hackberry, slippery elm, flowering dogwood, mockernut hickory, Va pine, American holly, black cherry, red mulberry, American elm. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added witch hazel, smooth alder, shadbush (in tasty fruit).

Shrub Layer: Spice bush, maple-leaf and southern arrowwood viburnum (flower), strawberry bush (E americana), blueberry, mtn laurel (flower), deerberry (flower), blackhaw viburnum, blackberry, Japanese multifloral rose, red-twig dogwood, azaleas, tartarian honeysuckle. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added swamp sweetbells, fringetree (flower), bladdernut (fruit), green ash, ninebark.

Herbaceous Layer:Bulbous buttercup (flower), skunk cabbage, raspberry, garlic mustard, clustered snakeroot (fruit), wingstem, Jack-in-the-pulpit (flower),spotted wintergreen, ground ivy (flower), common bluets, large-leaf houstonia, common cinquefoil (flower), wine raspberry, golden ragwort (flower), yellow wood sorrel, wild stonecrop (flower), arrow arumroot, cutleaf toothwort (fruit), Indian cucumber root, rattlesnake plantain, wild sarsasparilla (fruit), sqawroot, rue anemone (flower), blue-eyed grass (flower), black snakeroot, lizardís tail, rattlesnake weed, spiderwort (flower), white clover, black medick. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added yellow stargrass, long-leaved stitchwort, golden saxifrage, marsh violets, field chickweed, Clematis viorna (leather flower), small-flowered phacelia, blunt-leaved sandwort, star-flowered Solomonís seal, golden alexander, common fleabane, round-leaved and balsam ragwort, veiny pea, tall meadow rue, moss phlox (flower), blue false indigo (flower), poison hemlock (flower), dames rocket (flower), Star of Bethlehem, wintercress (flower), wild geranium (Flower), American bur-reed, massive bed of twinleaf (fruit), horse nettle.

Ground cover and vines: Moonseed (flower),Virginia creeper, poison ivy (flower), grapes, trumpet vine, wild yam, partridge berry, dodder. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added smilax (flower), dewberry (flower), bittersweet.

Ferns: Christmas, polpody, rattlesnake fern, cinnamon, lady, royal, sensitive, New York, hay-scented, tree clubmoss. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added broad beech and maidenhair along old mill race, marginal wood fern, (liverworts).


Amphibians: Grey treefrog (southern H.Chrysocelis). Difficult Run/ Black Pond added spotted salamander egg masses and probably wood frog tadpoles in old mill race.

Also some extremely large bullfrog tadpoles in pool near Black Pond, fowlerís toad.

Reptiles: Black rat snake in a tree branch being mobbed by a great crested flycatcher, nine painted turtles, a single red-bellied and a snapping turtle, bull frogs and green frogs in the pond across from the second Great Falls parking lot. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added the largest broad-headed skink Iíve ever seen (~6-8"), a 13" red- bellied turtle, a second and third snapping turtle(I caught the second- 9" carapace), a 5' northern black racer, ďrattlingĒ itís tail.

Birds: Indigo bunting, Baltimore Oriole, black and turkey vultures, chimney swifts, cardinals, chickadee, tufted titmouse, goldfinch, red-eyed vireo, great crested flycatcher, red-bellied woodpecker, northern parula, phoebe, pileated woodpecker, common crow, ovenbird, wood thrush, blackburnian warbler, kentucky warbler, eastern peewee, blue-grey gnatcatcher, ruby-throated hummingbird, common yellowthroat, acadian flycatcher, bluejay, nuthatch, scarlet tanager. Difficult Run/ Black Pond added worm-eating warbler, Lousiana waterthrush, kingfisher, indigo bunting, great blue heron, barn swallows, purple martins, catbird, wood ducks, cormorant, turkey, northern towhee, Canadian geese with two young.

Mammals: Ground hog, grey squirrels.Difficult Run/ Black Pond added beaver den, chipmunk.

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DATE: May 16, 1998

LOCATION: Huntley Meadows Park, VA and Masonís Neck National Wildlife Refuge, VA

HIGHLIGHTS: Huntley Meadows was a half day birding trip. Mating common water snakes and the family of King rail were noteworthy. One of the King rails was limping-- the result of an encounter with a snapping turtle viewed by one of our participants a week ago. Masonís Neck was a nearby site known for green tree frogs. Although none were seen (or heard), a shedding four foot northern black racer was caught. In both locations, the more southern grey tree frog (Hyla chrysocelis) was heard.

GEOLOGY: Coastal Plain sediments of the Potomac Group, formed during the early Cretaceous (130-95 mya). These are the first (thus, oldest) of the depositions laid down after the separation of the North American and African tectonic plates, laying atop and against the much older metamorphosed rocks of the Piedmont physiographic region to the west. Being sediments of the Cretaceous Period, this Potomac Group has yeilded various herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs bones and teeth both in Maryland and Virginia.

BOTANY: Huntley Meadows is a relatively low level (bottomland) wetland with red maples and sweetgum common. Masonís Neck is on slightly higher and dryer land with more oaks and beech. The following lists the Huntley Meadows site first, then new species only for Masonís Neck is listed second.

Canopy: Sweet gum, red maple, willow oak, beech, Va pine, red and white oak, black locust, mockernut hickory, tulip tree. Masonís Neck adds black oak, loblolly pine.

Subcanopy: Red bud, dogwood, northern red cedar, black cherry, sassafras, American holly, blackgum, scarlet oak, blackjack oak, ironwood, American and slippery elm, white ash. Masonís Neck adds pawpaw, American chestnut.

Shrub Layer: Maple-leaf and southern arrow wood viburnum (both in bloom), winterberry, hawthorn, highbush blueberry, deerberry (bloom), spicebush, azalea. Masonís Neck adds mountain laurel (bloom), red-twig dogwood, black willow, staghorn sumac.

Herbaceous Layer: Aborted buttercup, two types of bedstraw, star chickweed, cattails, rushes, lizardís tail, yellow wood sorrel, blackberries (bloom), blue flag iris (bloom), common fleabane. Masonís Neck adds arrow arum, spatterdock, swamp rose mallow, yellow flag iris (bloom), stout blue-eyed grass.

Ground cover and vines: Bittersweet, honeysuckle (bloom), dodder. Masonís Neck adds groundpine (Lycopodium flabelliforme).

Ferns: Spinulose Wood fern, New York, botrychium v., sensitive, royal, cinnamon, christmas. Masonís Neck adds broad beech, hay-scented.


Amphibians: Grey treefrog, bull frog, green frog.

Reptiles: Common water snakes (4), painted and red-bellied turtles. Masonís Neck adds five-lined skink, a three foot northern black racer (with vibrating tail).

Birds: Goldfinch, red-eyed vireo, boat-tailed grackle, cardinal, yellow-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager, blue-grey gnatcatcher (throughout both hikes), American redstart, common yellowthroat, fish crow, red-winged blackbird, Canada Goose, prothonotary warbler, song sparrow, bluebird, barn swallow, common snipe, great egret, mallard, turkey vulture, red- bellied woodpecker, acadian flycatcher, blue jay, chickadee, tufted titmouse, cowbird, king rail, green heron, great blue heron, coot, wood duck, chimney swifts, orchard oriole, kingbird, Carolina wren, ruby-throated hummingbird, white-eyed vireo, northern parula, wood thrush, swainsonís thrush, ovenbird, and wood peewee.

Mammals: Beaver and grey squirrels.

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DATE: May 2, 1998

LOCATION: Linden, VA (G. Richard Thompson WMA)

WEATHER: Cloudy, 70 degrees

GEOLOGY: Catoctin Greenstone

BOTANY: Typical often-cut deciduous forest of tulip tree, white ash, basswood, maples, cherries, black locust and other early successional members. Black ash is known to exist in the area. Autumn olive has been planted along the more clear lower elevations for wild foul habitat. Other woody plants found included alternate-leaved dogwood, bristly locust, sassafras, black gum, slippery elm, ailanthus, sumac, spicebush (as the dominant in the shrub layer), and a few oaks and hickories in drier locations.

Wildflowers were the highlight with 43 herbaceous and 8 woody plants found in bloom. More one-flowered cancerroot, showy orchis, and yellow lady slippers were found on this trip than on any previous trip. One area above the fire road just below Parking lot #6 had 39 yellow lady slippers in a 20 x 30 foot area (counted on subsequent weekend visit).

False Solomonís seal
Large-flowered trillium
Nodding trillium
Perfoliate bellwort
Yellow ladyslipper
Showy orchis
Sweet Cicely/Aniseroot
Wild ginger
Daisy fleabane
Golden Ragwort
Common dandelion
Garlic mustard
Wintercress (Yellow rocket)
Slender toothwort
Giant chickweed
Wild geranium
Virginia waterleaf
Ground ivy
Purple dead-nettle
Spring beauty
Rue Anemone
Small-flowered crowfoot
Early meadowrue
Tall meadowrue
Swamp buttercup
Bulbous buttercup
Wild strawberry
Wood betony
Common blue violet
Downy/Smooth yellow violet
Pale/Cream violet
Early violet
White campion
Wild Pink
One-flowered cancerroot
Yellow pimpernel
Early saxifrage
Swamp Saxifrage

Woody Plants in bloom

Blackhaw viburnum
Flowering dogwood
Autumn Olive
Tartarian honeysuckle

A group of eight to ten large morel mushrooms were found at one marked spot along the trail. Two large (domestic) strawberries were another highlight of the hike.


Mammals - None

Amphibians - One lone mountain dusky salamander.

Reptiles - None

Birds - As is usually the case, the first scarlet tanager of the season was first heard, then seen on this hike. The location was at the same place as the tanager was seen on the last two previous years (near the intersection of the Ted Lewis and Appalachian trail). Other birds included the prairie warbler the blue-winged warbler and white-eyed vireo (in the lower more cleared areas), northern parula, hooded warblers, American redstarts (many), towhees, ovenbirds, red-eyed vireos, wood thrush, and the other usual year-round inhabitants.

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DATE: April 18, 1998

LOCATION: Turkey Run Park, VA

WEATHER: Cool, partly cloudy, high 65 degrees
GEOLOGY: Precambrian metamorphosed muds
BIOLOGY: 42 species of wildflowers were identified in bloom. (F) means in fruit, (B) means in bud. (DR) are those additional species in bloom at Difficult Run. Common names taken from Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.

Common Blue Violet
Squirrel Corn
Yellow Violet
Pale Violet
Ground Ivy
Purple Dead Nettle
Redbud (tree)
Wild Ginger
False Mermaid
Toad Trillium
Field Peppergrass
Garlic Mustard
Spring Cress
Tall Meadow Rue
Bluets (DR)
Golden Saxifrage
Cut-leaved Toothwort
Flowering Dogwood (tree)
Fringe Tree (DR)
One-flowered Cancerroot
Early Saxifrage
Indian Strawberry
Virginia Bluebells
Hooked Crowfoot
Harbinger of Spring (F)
Sweet Cicely (B)
Golden Alexanders (DR)
Heart-leaved Alexanders (DR)
Hispid Buttercup (DR)
Swamp Buttercup
Wild Pink (DR)
Small-Flowered Crowfoot
Wild Blue Phlox
Moss Phlox (DR)
Spring Beauty
Wild Stonecrop
Great Chickweed
Field Chickweed (DR)
Wild Geranium
Dwarf Ginseng
Wood Anemone
Maleberry (DR)
Deerberry (DR)
Pink Azalea (DR)
Black Haw (DR)
Shadbush (DR)
Bladdernut (tree)
Grape Hyacinth (DR)
Sessile-leaved Bellwort
Solomon's Seal (B)
False Solomon's Seal (B)
Blue Cohosh
Bloodroot (F)
Golden Ragwort
Common Fleabane
Pussytoes (DR)
Showy Orchis
Rue Anemone
Ivy-leaved speedwell
Trout Lily

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DATE: March 14, 1998

LOCATION: East Fork Naked Creek and Powell Mountain; Central District, SNP. (This was a bush-whacking trip with Len Wheat). We hiked two miles to a magnificent falls that was flowing with high volume and plenty of large icicles. Another mile above the falls took us to some vernal pools and, eventually, the Powell Mountain Trail, which we followed back to our cars for about a five mile circuit hike. Some massive areas of blowdowns (Hurricane Fran and the ice storm of five weeks ago) kept our pace slow above 2,500', and prevented us from finding the vernal pools, which assuredly have not yet been visited by the wood frogs and salamanders this spring .

WEATHER: Cool, clear, high 45 degrees.

GEOLOGY: An interesting area, with contacts of the Catoctin greenstone, Weverton sandstone, and Swift Run formation.

BOTANY: Hemlocks and white pine dominated along the East Fork of Naked Creek, with the usual oak/hickory forest on drier upslope terrain. Powell Mtn, being Weverton sandstone, was predominantly chestnut oak, Virginia pine and mountain laurel.

Canopy - White pine, pitch pine, Va pine, hemlock, white ash, red maple, shagbark and mockernut hickory, tulip tree, black gum, sycamore, white, red, chestnut oak, black birch, black cherry, sweet cherry.

Subcanopy - Flowering dogwood, striped maple, black locust, tree-of-heaven, hawthorns, scrub oak, American chestnut, hornbeam, wild apples, persimmon.

Shrub layer - wild hydrangea, smooth blackhaw, blackberries, black raspberries, wineberries, hazelnut (actually in bloom), witch hazel, spice bush, wild Japanese barberry, mountain laurel, deciduous azaleas, blueberries.

Herbaceous flowers -Putty-root, rattlesnake plaintain. Colts foot was in bloom. Hepatica and cut-leaf toothwort was in bud. Lots of mullein and garlic mustard foliage.

Ferns - Marginal, intermedia, rock polypody.

Vines and groundcovers - Partridgeberry, poison ivy, greenbrier, grapes.


Mammals- BEAR was disturbed from it*s winter nest of leaves. We watched it briefly as it ran away. Nest was a large four foot pile of leaves which had been scratched into a pile. Also, a resting spot (where bear apparently was resting) was five feet away from nest. Both sites were under fallen trees and branches. Also, a few deer were seen.

Amphibians- Too cold yet for spring massing. One dusky salamander was found in the creek.

Reptiles - A garter snake was found.

Birds - Very few seen. Nothing of particular interest.

NOTES : Bear, outstanding waterfalls and garter snake were noteworthy. Due to the Drive still being closed from ice storm five weeks prior, the steam engine destination was scrapped.

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DATE: January 31, 1998

LOCATION: Cedarville State Forest, MD. Specifically, hikes 6 (3.9 mi.) and 4 (3.1 mi.) from the PATC publication Hikes in the Washington Region; Part C. Hike 6 was excellent; hike 4, marginal.

WEATHER: Cloudy, 40 degrees.

GEOLOGY: Coastal Plain round quartzites

BOTANY: Young secondary forest; some mature sites. Acid sandy soils with pines, oaks, beech, hollies, highbush blueberries, and clubmosses dominate.

Canopy - Black, red, white, scarlet, spanish (southern red oak), beech, loblolly, Virginia, and white pine, sweetgum, tuliptree, red maple, bitternut and mockernut hickories.

Subcanopy - American holly, spicebush, ironwood, sweetbay magnolia, dogwood, hop hornbeam, red cedar, river birch, black locust, black cherry, mazzard cherry, pawpaw, paulownia, sumac.

Shrub layer - Lots of summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and highbush blueberry, maleberry, swamp sweetbells, maple-leaved and blackhaw viburnum, deciduous azalea, Smooth alder (with male catkins fully emerged), Hercule's club.

Herbaceous layer - Skunk cabbage in bloom, bittercress and agrimony.

Ferns and Fern allies - Lycopodium obscurum and L. tristachyum are common. Also L. annotinum, Var. pungens found along a stream. Christmas fern common; also spinulose and ebony spleenwort.

Groundcovers and vines - Poison ivy, grape and Japanese honeysuckle in younger growth areas. Spotted wintergreen, cut-leaf grape fern (B. dissectum var. elongatum), rattlesnake fern (B. virginianum), numerous cranesfly orchids, smilax, dwarf cinquefoil, Running strawberry bush, beechdrops, dodder, St Andrew's cross, deerberry, trailing arbutus.


Mammals - Numerous mole tunnels, a dead short-tailed shrew in the trail, many raccoon and some deer tracks. Active beaver along Zekiah Run and in the pond.

Birds - Due to the abundance of conifers, lots of wintering birds in mixed foraging groups. Chickadees, titmice, golden-crowned kinglets, brown creeper, hairy, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, juncos and nuthatches were found in various groups of about a dozen members. (All three woodpeckers and the brown creeper were found in one area among a group of chickadees and titmice; perhaps by coincidence.) A yellow-rumped warbler was also seen. A group of robins were found by themselves feeding on American holly berries.

Amphibians - None

Reptiles - None

NOTES - A four acre pond is located at the end of Forest Road. A brief walk around the pond found numerous purple pitcher plants and trumpet pitcher plants. Wool grass, manna grass, reeds and a bald cypress were also present. Mallards, Canada geese, song sparrows and an active beaver den were seen. An excellent place for a half day hike (hike 6).

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DATE: January 24, 1998

LOCATION: Rose River Fire Road to Upper Dark Hollow trail to Rapidan Fire Road to Stone Mtn trail and back on Rose River Fire Road. This is a 9 mile circuit hike - Upper Dark Hollow trail - not to be confused with the Dark Hollow Falls trail - is a moderately steep ascent of two miles or so before reaching the Rapidan Fire Road. Stone Mtn trail has some large areas of massive blow downs from last fall's Hurricane Fran, but the trail is clear.

WEATHER: Overcast, some sleet, snow. High about 32 degrees.

GEOLOGY: Catoctin Greenstone


Canopy - Wet coves have hemlock, black birch, sycamore, beech, yellow birch. Drier slopes and uplands have chestnut and red oak, white ash, blackhaw viburnum, black cherry, black locust, red maple, tulip tree, white pine

Subcanopy - Persimmon, sassafrass, hawthorn, tree-of-heaven, mazzard cherry, dogwood, striped maple, hop hornbeam

Shrub layer - Wild hydrangea, flowering, red and black raspberry, witch-hazel, spice bush, mountain laurel, deciduous azalea, maple-leaf viburnum

Herbaceous flowers - Sweet Cicely, garlic mustard, black snakeroot

Ferns - Polypody, Christmas, marginal

Vines and Groundcovers - Wild grape, poison ivy, teaberry, spotted wintergreen, hairy-capped moss, partridgeberry


Mammals- Numerous deer tracks




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