Posts filed under ‘Mayapple’

Spring Wildflowers at Falls Ridge Nature Preserve

My mother accompanied Sagan and I on a weekend to Blacksburg, Virginia. The weekend went by super fast, but on the way home, we were able to meet some of my friends for a quick hike at the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Nature Preserve. I’ve been there numerous times before, but this time was one of the most beautiful of trips. Not only did the falls look spectacular, but we were greeted with a rather large variety of blooming wildflowers.

Some snippets of the falls:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Small Mossy Falls (Close)
Mossy Waterfall

Falls Ridge 2013 - Sine Wave Falls
Curvy Falls

A snippet of the wildflowers:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Columbine and Ferns
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with Ferns

Falls Ridge 2013 - Single Columbine Flower
Closeup of Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Mayapple Buds
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) Not Quite Blooming Yet

Falls Ridge 2013 - Trillium By New Stairs
Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Purple Orchid Like Flower
Possible Showy Orchid (Orchis spectabilis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Possible Star Chickweed?
Possible Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Buds and Leaves
Possible False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina racemosa)

More photos of our Falls Ridge Wildflower Hike can be found on my Flickr site.

Falls Ridge Preserve

Length: You can make it as long or as short as you want

Elevation Gain: Flat, except for a hill to the top of the falls.

Driving and Parking: The final approach to the preserve is a flat gravel road.  There is plenty of parking.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA
From Main Street, turn on Ellett Road.
Turn left on Jennelle Road and cross over railroad tracks
Turn right on Den Hill Road
Turn left on Northfork
Turn right on Falls Ridge Rd.
Turn left immediately after the railroad tracks and follow the gravel road to the preserve.

May 16, 2013 at 1:00 am 4 comments

Rocky Gap

I am very lucky to live in an area with numerous A.T. trailheads. One of the most convenient to me is the VA-601 crossing. At that trailhead, a vast majority of recreational hikers will travel northbound to take in the views at Kelly’s Knob. But, I also recommend traveling southbound. Going down to VA-632 and back is a 4 mile round trip that you can fit in after work or even a weekend day before other obligations. On the down side, this does mean you can hike and still have ample time to do household chores.

This section may not have the overlook that Kelly’s Knob has, but it is beautiful in its own right. The rocky trail is lined with moss and ferns and when the time is right– blooming mayapples and azaleas. As far as exercise goes, your legs get more of a climb than they would to Kelly’s Knob. VA-632 to VA-601 has an elevation gain of 1184 feet, whereas Kelly’s Knob is only 478 feet higher than VA-601 (though that first hill makes it feel a heck of a lot worse!).

Know what else Rocky Gap has? Baby American Chestnut trees!

(Even though these trees will eventually succumb to the blight, if you hurt them then I’m going to go the Steve Sillett route and never ever pointing them out again.)

Henry on the rocky trail.

Blooming Azaleas

Log silhouette and Rocky Gap greenery.

Ferns and their shadows

Baby American Chestnut Tree

More pictures of my recent outings to Rocky Gap can be found on my Flickr site. And by request:

Rocky Gap
(Appalachian Trail from VA-601 to VA-632 and back)

Mileage: 4 miles round trip

Elevation Difference: 1184 feet

4WD Requirements: The last 1.5 miles of VA-601 is a gravel hill, but it is well maintained and I have seen non-4WD vehicles make it up.

Trailhead Parking: The VA-601 trailhead has a small parking area to the left. On busy days, cars park on the side of the gravel road.

Driving Directions:
(from Blacksburg, Virginia)
Take 460 West and turn right on VA-42.
Bear right to stay on VA-42
Shortly afterwards, turn left on VA-601
When VA-601 turns to gravel, you have about 1.5 miles to the top.
Once there, AT Southbound is to your left and AT Northbound is on your right.

Along the way, you’ll pass by Sinking Creek Bridge, a covered bridge built in 1916.

May 17, 2008 at 12:00 am 4 comments

10 Things in my Yard

I was sick all last weekend and didn’t get to venture far from home. But, thanks to six years of limited yardwork, I have plenty of vegetation to see in my backyard.

Inspired by the No Child Left Inside Coalition video that said “young people could identify 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants or animals native to their backyards”, I went outside and took pictures of things in my yard. So here are 10 Things in my Yard:

Flowering Dogwood

State tree AND flower of Virginia, State tree of Missouri, State flower of North Carolina

Dogwood I learned at a pretty early age. One day, my siblings and I decided we would build a tree house. There were very few obtainable trees to our short statures. We selected the only one we could reach and nailed no more than three boards into the branches when we were reprimanded by our mother. Apparently, it is against the law to damage the state tree. And that was that. It was going to be a pretty sucky treehouse anyway.

Gray Birch

I don’t have a good story about birch trees. But I will say every time the Direct TV goes out in the summer, this tree is one of my first scapegoats. It has grown so high, I keep waiting for it to block the satellite dish. I’m still waiting.


I was officially introduced to Mayapples last year by Jere Bidwell on our Cornelius Creek hike. Mayapples sport a single bloom which hides under their umbrella-like canopy, so you can’t see the flower from above, you have to look for it!

Silver Maple

This tree never stuck out to me as extraordinary until Sean’s Dad came to visit the house. He is a fan of this tree and actually mentions it pretty regularly.

Sugar Maple

State Tree of New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

This is another tree Sean’s Dad taught me. When I first moved into my house I was told that this particular tree wouldn’t last because it was growing into itself. After all the trees I have seen survive under sketchy conditions, growing on rocks, merging back into themselves, eating fences and blazes and even combining with other trees, I decided this one is a big pansy if it can’t figure the matter out on its own. So far it is still going strong.

Tulip Poplar

State tree of Tennesse, Indiana and Kentucky.

This is the favorite tree of my Great Uncle Chuck and my sister. Great Uncle Chuck likes it for practical reasons, “It grows fast and the wood is strong.” Carolyn likes it for a different purpose, “Because it’s easy to identify.”

Since two of my favorite people like this tree, the species will always have a place in my heart.


Sycamores I learned at a very early age as well. My grandmother used to point them out when we went to visit Mount Vernon. I also remember Sycamores from the Bible story of Zacchaeus. He was the short tax collector, who couldn’t see Jesus through the crowd. So he climbed a Sycamore tree to get a better view.

The more I see Sycamore trees, the more I wonder about that story. The branches are so far off the ground. How did short Zacchaeus ever get up there? 🙂


This is a new tree to me. I chose to highlight it in this list of ten because I like the pretty blooms. It seemed flashier than “Dandelion” or “Wild Strawberry”

Poison Ivy

Even though I learned this one at a pretty young age, I managed to have negative encounters with this plant well into adulthood. Most notably, I once got poison ivy on my face trying to rescue a goat from the wood pile.

Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper is commonly mistaken for poison ivy. But it is waaaay cooler. It is featured in the state seal of Virginia! My relationship with Virginia Creeper began with Tony Airaghi. Since then I have become very fond of the plant, especially in the fall.

And there you go, 10 Things in my Yard, which is only about 1/3 of an acre. I certainly don’t want to put you on the spot, but I wouldn’t mind seeing 10 things from *your* yards.

Especially since I’m *cough* *cough* still sick and I can’t get to the AT. 🙂

May 6, 2008 at 2:00 pm 13 comments

Wildwood Park – A Taste of Home

Today my colleagues and I stopped by Wildwood Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  We parked and decided to talk a walk on the Ecology Trail.  Right at the trailhead I spied some familiar friends– Trillium and Virginia Creeper.

Trillium and Virginia Creeper
A trillium bloom and Virginia Creeper

Just like our group hike last week in Southwest Virginia, the trillium almost 1000 miles northwest are in full bloom.  That wasn’t the only familiar faces.  I also saw some Mayapple and Wild Geraniums in bloom as well.

Wild Geranium
Wild geranium blooming

Trillium Bloom
Trillium blooming

Forest Floor Full of Blooms
Forest floor full of blooms

Wildwood Park also contains a free zoo of wild animals- elk, deer, buffalo, wolves, turkeys.  Our favorite was a completely white whitetail deer.

A shedding male elk with beautiful antlers

Whitetail Deer
Whitetail deer


White whitetail deer
A completely white deer

More pictures from Wisconsin and Wildwood Park can be found on my Flickr site.

May 24, 2007 at 12:05 am 6 comments

Petites Gap to Cornelius Creek Shelter – Wildflower Row

On Saturday, I joined a group of six other hikers (mostly from the Charlottesville/Potomac Appalachian Trail Club area) for a hike along the Appalachian Trail. We started at Petites Gap which is Mile Post 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hiked about 7.3 miles on the AT, then we went 1 mile down Apple Orchard Falls Trail to Apple Orchard Falls. From there, we backtracked 0.5 miles up Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Next we cut across Apple Orchard Road 1 mile to Cornelius Creek Trail. We ascended 0.6 miles to get back to the AT. Finally, we hiked 1.6 miles down the AT to the Cornelius Creek Shelter. We ended back up at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 80.5.

This section of trail had it all– views, waterfalls, wildflowers. It offered so much, it felt like 4-5 different hikes combined into one. Some many features of this section are described below:

View of Devil’s Marbleyard
As we ascended through Thunder Ridge Wilderness, we pass a rock outcropping with a views of Devil’s Marbleyard. It’s quite a different perspective than Mike E and I had a few weeks ago at the Marbleyard.

Devil's Marbleyard
Devil’s Marbleyard from Thunder Ridge Wilderness

Thunder Ridge Overlook
Also accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, we passed by an overlook near the high point of Thunder Ridge.

View From Thunder Ridge Overlook
View from Thunder Ridge Overlook

The Guillotine
As we neared the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, we passed under a boulder balancing precariously above the trail.

The Guillotine
Ken, with remarkable faith, sits on top of the Guillotine with the Appalachian Trail below

Apple Orchard Summit
Our passage took us to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain. At 4225 feet, this is the highest point the trail reaches in some time. Northbound hikers would have go to 1000 miles to New Hampshire to reach a higher elevation. Meanwhile Southbound hikers would need to go 600 miles.

Summit sign at Apple Orchard Mountain

Ridges At Apple Orchard Summit
View from summit of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Mountain was named for the trees at the top. They are not apple trees, rather they are red oaks that have been twisted and deformed by wind and ice. To the locals, the trees appeared to be a deserted orchard. Thus the name.

Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain
Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain

The summit sports more than trees and great views. An FAA air traffic radar tower is present up there as well.

FAA Radar Tower
FAA Radar Tower at top of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Falls
Our side trek took us to beautiful 150-foot Apple Orchard Falls.

Apple Orchard Falls
Apple Orchard Falls

Black Rock Overlook
One of our final stops of the journey was Black Rock Overlook which provides outstanding views, including Peaks of Otter to the left.

Ridges from Black Rock
Layers of ridges visible from Black Rock

Peaks of Otter (Flat Top) from Black Rock

Last, but not least, our hike provided us with a steady stream of wildflower viewing opportunities. The Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia describes this section well.

This area is famous for its spring flowers– acres of large flowered trillium, being crowded by mayapple, as well as a showing of bloodroot, showy orchids, large-flowered bellwort, mountain lily-of-the-valley, blue cohosh, and rattlesnake plantain (an orchid).

However, we met a thru hiker named Biker Barb who improved upon the guidebook’s description.

It is like walking through a botanical garden.

Biker Barb was right. Our journey provided such a variety and high quality of specimens, it very well could have been a botanical garden.

To Be Identified — Chickweed?

Mayapple which has a single stealth bloom underneath a broad leaf canopy

Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit

Two of the thousands of trilliums on the trail

Pink Lady Slipper Orchids
Pink Lady Slipper Orchids

To Be Identified – Spiderwort?


Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel

It was a wonderful and fulfilling journey. Many thanks to Jere Bidwell for organizing this trip and inviting me!!!

Additional Links
Many, many more pictures on Flickr
Kevin Myatt’s article on Apple Orchard Falls for the Roanoke Times
Thunder Ridge Wilderness Area

May 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm 11 comments

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