Posts filed under ‘Poverty Creek’

Poverty Creek in the Fall

Last weekend, Ryan Somma and I took a quick trip to Poverty Creek and then over to Caldwell Fields. Both hikes were flat and short which means they are great runners-up to the Take a Child Outside (T.A.C.O.) Hikes list. And since the hikes were indeed so brief and easy, that meant that handicapped Henry was able to tag along.

(I think I will appoint Henry the Beagle my official T.A.C.O. Litmus Test. If he can do it with his bad back and leg, so can a kid!)

Anyway, our outing to Poverty Creek was short, but a great way to get outside and witness the beginnings of fall.

Walking down a fire road to get to the Poverty Creek Trail

Yellow and red leaves

Changing Leaves in the Sun

Floating leaves and reflections in Poverty Creek

More pictures of Poverty Creek are available on my Flickr site.

Poverty Creek Trail

Length: Up to 7.2 miles one-way (you can increase this length with side trails)

Elevation Gain: Neglible

Directions from Blacksburg, VA

Take 460 West

When Craig’s Creek Road is on your right, take a left into the Pandapas Pond entrance.

You can get to the trail from the upper parking lot.


Take 460 West

Pass the Pandapas Pond entrance

Turn left on Forest Road 708 (gravel road). The Poverty Creek Trail system has a number of trail crossings off of that road which you can use to get to the Poverty Creek Trail.

October 17, 2008 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Hearts in Nature: Prickley Pear Trail

At the Prickley Pear Trail on Wednesday, I found two more examples of hearts in nature.

Hearts climb up a tree courtesy of a vine.

If I decide to do a “Stars in Nature” series as well, then I’m all set!

May 22, 2008 at 8:00 am 3 comments

Prickley Pear Trail: First Blooms

Today I went for a quick hike with the dogs on the Prickley Pear Trail in the Poverty Creek Trail System. The rhododendrons at Mount Rogers aren’t expect to peak for another 2-3 weeks. But down a couple thousand feet at Poverty Creek, I found them blooming away. As an added bonus, the mountain laurel (real mountain laurel, not mountain pieris) was starting to flower as well.

Gorgeous rhododendron blooms over a beautifully textured bark

I love the shape of the wild rhododendrons and how they spread out and the branches twist and turn.

The first Mountain Laurel blooms opening up

More pictures of my trip on the Prickley Pear Trail can be found on my Flickr site.

Prickley Pear Trail
(From FS-708 to Skullcap Trail)

Mileage: 3 miles round trip

Elevation Difference: [Unsure, but I can say it doesn’t feel very steep]

4WD Requirements: Forest Service Road 708 is gravel and climbs a hill, but for the most part is well maintained.

Trailhead Parking: There is a nearby pull off on the left in front of the Royale Trailhead

Driving Directions:
(from Blacksburg, Virginia)

Take 460 West
After you pass Pandapas Pond, be on the lookout for Forest Service Road 708 on your left. There will be a dedicated turn lane for it.
Once 708 starts to flatten, watch for a wooden sign for the “Royale Trail” on your left. The Prickley Pear Trail is unmarked and starts across the street from the Royale Trail.

May 22, 2008 at 12:11 am 16 comments

Busy Beavers

On Wednesday evening, I did some more exploring with Sean and the dogs. This time we checked out an unamed Foot Traffic Road off of VA-460 between Pandapas Pond and VA-708.

The hardest part of this outing was trying to not block this gate and still avoid busy 460.

Our journey started on an old gravel road.  Just when I thought there would be nothing out of the ordinary about this trek, we came to a large clearing.

Field off of the foot traffic road

We explored the field a bit, then ventured into the woods and surprise! We found overselves on the Poverty Creek Trail again! (On a different section this time)

Surprise reunion with Poverty Creek

Here is where the most fascinating part of the trip occurred. This section of the creek was occupied by beavers. I’ve always heard the phrase “busy as a beaver”, but I never thought too much about it. I liked the saying because of the alliteration; I never speculated on the accuracy.

But looking at the extent of the work at Poverty Creek, I can declare that statement is dead-on. The amount of downed trees in the area was astounding. And some of the trees they took on were rather large. Not sequoia large, mind you, but large enough for me to realize beavers have ambition that rivals most Olympic athletes.

It was hard for me to get a picture that truly captured how many trees the beavers took down, so I settled for a number of shots showing just a very small fraction of their handiwork.

Just one of the beavers’ dams. I think we saw at least four.

Beaver chewed tree

D’oh. After all that dedicated chewing, this tree got stuck

Partially chewed tree on the left, water ripples on the right

There are at least FIVE trees the beavers downed in this shot

The outing was only about an hour, but it was enough to get some fresh air, some exercise…and obtain some healthy admiration for the work ethic of beavers.

More pictures of this Poverty Creek outing can be found on my Flickr site.

April 4, 2008 at 12:33 am 6 comments

Poverty Creek and the Advantage of Green

I’m still struggling with my Sinking Creek Mountain post. My affection for a mountain that is consistently overlooked by area hikers combined with my affection for the birthday hike tradition keeps producing paragraphs that sound…. well… preachy. Luckily, while I try temper my tone, I have an easy topic to share.

On Monday evening, I was able to squeeze in a quick outing to the Poverty Creek Trail. The Poverty Creek area boasts a number of multi-use trails. Horses, mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers all co-exist on a network of trails of varying difficulty… The way the Roanoke Times put it, there is “A Wealth of Trails at Poverty Creek” (Hur hur– wealth, poverty, get it?). It’s not my favorite, but it is a nice area and very convenient to me.

When I was a child, I loved my father’s green eyes. Green quickly became my favorite color. Quick side note– I recently found out my parents exploited my fondness of the color to get me to eat my vegetables when I was young. They told me if I ate enough peas (or green beans or spinach, etc) my eyes would turn green. So as I ate dinner, they would tell me, “THEY ARE STARTING TO TURN GREEN! HURRY! EAT MORE!”

Now as an adult, I still have blue eyes, but I love vegetables and I love green. My last few hiking outings, it’s dawned on me that I’m pretty darn lucky to have a favorite color of green in this area. Thanks to all the rhododendrons and mountain laurel, no matter what time of year I go out, I’m accompanied by at least some splashes of the color. Now that its spring, there’s even more green in the mushrooms and mosses and ferns and lichens. And this is before the trees get their leaves and the dormant vegetation returns!

If I had a different favorite color, I would have more difficulty getting my fix. If my favorite color was pink (Sorry Ann), I would have to wait for June when the rhododendrons bloomed. If my favorite color was purple (Sorry Carolyn), I would have to wait for the trilliums and wild geraniums in May. If my favorite color was blue (Sorry Jay), I’d be stuck looking at the sky and tripping over rocks. If my favorite color was orange (Sorry…uh… hmm. I don’t know anyone whose favorite color is orange), I’d be limited to flame azaleas.

So yeah, I’m lucky to have green as a favorite color here in southwest Virginia. The only way I figure I could improve on green… was if I fancied brown.

Rhododendron (green) arcing out of the water

Mushrooms (green) and lichen (green) growing on a log

Fallen trees over Poverty Creek… in the background, rhododendrons (green!)

Brown lovers wet dream?

More pictures of Poverty Creek, including non-green pictures, can be found on my Flickr site.

April 2, 2008 at 10:12 am 4 comments

Penn and Vicky’s Bear

The last weekend in September was “Take a Child Outside Week” (and actually, I’m sorry to admit I did not know that week existed until one Ryan Somma alerted me).  Of course, I was traveling most of that week, but on the very last day, I took five-year Penn out for a quick hike in celebration.  I choose Poverty Creek as our destination and as we drove there, we saw a black bear running along Forest Service Road.

I was, of course, thrilled for Penn.  But I was also a little miffed.  It was my first LIVE bear that I have seen in the area and I have hiked tons and tons and tons of miles (I saw a dead one once on Potts Mountain).  Penn’s done a lot of hiking for his age, but no where near as much as me and he already gets to see a bear?!?!  No fair.  🙂

Anyway, now our bear sighting is included in the’s interactive “Black bears in the Roanoke and New River valleys” map:

Penn and Vicky’s Bear on the Map

We may only be the third most famous hikers in the world… but we’re slowly working on increasing our exposure.  🙂

December 11, 2007 at 12:00 pm 4 comments

Trees That Could

I’m continually amazed by perseverance of trees.  I’ve seen plenty that manage to thrive despite less than optimal conditions.  Tony and I ran across another resilient example today on the Huckleberry Trail.  This particular tree is growing on the rocky hillside near Mile Marker 5.  Check out the root.  It snakes around rocks and down, down, down until it finally reaches nutrients.

A very dedicated root system 

A closer shot showing the path the root took

In posts on Bottom Creek Gorge and John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I highlighted some trees that were not intimidated by obstacles.  They simply grew into and absorbed the obstruction.  On Sunday, the dogs and I hiked the Royale Trail at Poverty Creek and we ran across a tree that took a less invasive approach:

This tree grew in a perfect half circle.  Hikers and bikers have lined stones up to and on the tree.

May 10, 2007 at 12:30 am 5 comments

Invasion of the Orange Dorks

Today, the dogs and I went for a quick hike.  We decided to tap into some of the many trails in the Poverty Creek area.  Unfortunately, when we arrived there were signs at all the trailheads reminding people, “IT’S HUNTING SEASON!” and  instructing everyone to wear orange.  I checked my back of the car and alas, nothing orange.  Guess I am not as good as a Hokie fan as I thought.

So, the dogs and I drove back home, fetched some orange apparel and then returned to the trailhead.  The dogs wore their bright orange life jackets and I wore Sean’s “Orange Effect” T-shirt.  Together, the three of us looked like big dorks. 

Henry was especially unfashionable.  His life vest is way too big for him.

We didn’t see a single person on our three mile journey (up and back down the Prickley Pear trail).  Of course, that doesn’t mean a camouflaged hunter did not see us.  Who knows. 

I can, however, report with certainty that none of us were shot.  So perhaps our attire did have some advantages afterall. 🙂

December 10, 2006 at 7:30 pm 5 comments

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