Posts filed under ‘Trillium’

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

Cougar Mountain – Overview

In mid-May, Ryan and I attended a wedding in beautiful Washington state. We took a few extra days and had a mini vacation in the Bellevue area before the baby arrives.

Our first full day in Washington state was a lovely sunny day that definitely warranted a hike. Since we weren’t too familiar with the area, I did some web searches and uncovered an excellent blog to help our cause. Weekend Hike covers “Great hikes around the Pacific Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area.” The blog highlighted a number hikes in the nearby 3000 acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. With 36 miles of hiking trails, Cougar Mountain had a lot of choose from. I perused a number of Weekend Hike’s posts and Ryan and I decided to try the Licorice Fern Trail -> Indian Trail to see the Far Country Falls. We figured we would also do a diversion up the Far Country Trail to see a view. Once we finished those two destinations, however, we were up for more hiking!

Spying the word “Wall” in the “De Leo Wall Trail” and knowing how beautiful Southwest Virginia’s Barney’s Wall is, we continued down the Indian Trail and took the De Leo Wall Trail. It did not disappoint and offered some of the best views of the day! After De Leo Wall, we headed down the Cross Town Trail to the Terrace Trail. We saw a neighborhood terrace and then quaint little Boulder Grove before turning around and heading back home.

Although it had the word “Lookout” in its name, the Far Country Lookout was far from my favorite. I did, however, absolutely adore the moss and fern embellished Far Country Falls. The view from a New Castle neighborhood off the Terrace Trail was a change of pace. It was the views of the De Leo Wall Trail that were the real gem of the day. From there, you could even see larger, snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Cougar Mountain - Far Country Trail - View (Portrait)
Far Country Lookout

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Far Country Falls View
Far Country Falls off the Indian Trail

Cougar Mountain - De Leo Wall Trail - Panaroma View 1
Lake View from the De Leo Wall Trail

Cougar Mountain - De Leo Wall Trail - View of Mountains
View From the De Leo Wall Trail (The light blue band on the horizon are LARGER mountains)

Cougar Mountain - Cross Town Trail - Terrace View (Far)
And For Something Completed Different – View from Terrace Trail

Flora – General
In September 2007, I had the privilege of another hike in Washington State – Twin Falls. Just like the hike four years ago, I was smitten with the prevalence of my favorite color. The trees, dead or alive, sported ferns and moss along their bark. We were in an Emerald Wonderland! So much did I enjoy being enveloped in green, I decided the Licorice Fern Trail was my favorite portion of the day even though it lacks flashy views or waterfalls. It was just plain beautiful.

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Trees and Greenery From Below
Licorice Fern Trail – Greenery From Below

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Little Ryan on Trail
For Perspective – Look how little Ryan is in the left hand corner!

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Ferns on Tree
Ferns Growing on a Tree Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Moss Branches and Trail
Moss Covered Trees Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Worm Like Fern Fronds
New Ferns in the Making

Flora – Wildflowers
We were hiking at an excellent time and got to see a number of blooming wildflowers. Most of them I didn’t recognize. But we saw a couple we were familiar with from the east coast, namely trillium…. and dandelion. : )

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Pink Flower
Pink Flower Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Arched Flower, Arched Fern
Light Purple Flower Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Far Country Trail - Yellow Holly Flowers
Yellow Holly Flowers Off the Far Country Trail

Cougar Mountain - Cross Town Trail - White Flower
White Flower on the Cross Town Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Trillium
Trillium Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Dandelions
Good Ole Dandelions Off the Indian Trail

When Ryan and I started our hike, the day was still young and misty. We didn’t see any birds or mammals, but we did see plenty of mollusks! We spied a snail, black slugs (Arion ater) and what I believe to be an impressive variety of Pacific banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus).

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Black, Two Textured Slug
Black Slug Off the Indian Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Spotted Slug
A Spotted Banana Slug Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Tan Slug
A Tan Banana Slug Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Snail
A Snail on the Indian Trail. (I wonder if it thinks it’s better than the slugs because it has a shell)

As the day warmed up, the moisture in the forest disappeared and so did all the slugs and snails. It was then we started to notice the mammals and the birds. We ran across a squirrel, birds and a number of deer who seemed as fond of the trails as we were.

The fauna highlight of the day was seeing not one but TWO green hummingbirds out in the wild (One off the Cross Town Trail and one off the Licorice Fern Trail). Alas, those little buggers were so fleeting and fast, we had no hope of pictures. Nonetheless, those surprise sightings will stick with us. Both of the hummingbirds we saw were green… so perhaps they were female Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna)?

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Deer on Path 1
One of Many Deer on the Indian Trail

All in all, we were hiking for five gorgeous, invigorating hours. It looks tedious to add up the mileage from the Trail Map. I typically hike 2 miles an hour, so I suspect our total outing was between 8-10 miles. Not too bad for 27 weeks. : )

Cougar Mountain - Terrace Trail - Vicky's Belly at Boulder Grove (By Ryan Somma)
My Belly at Boulder Grove (Photo by Ryan Somma)

More pictures of Cougar Mountain can be found on my Flickr site. For more detailed trail descriptions of Cougar Mountain hikes, I highly recommend the Weekend Hike blog.

Cougar Mountain Via the Licorice Fern TrailheadTrail Map

Length: Varied – 36 miles of trail to choose from!

Elevation Gain: Varied

Directions from Bellevue, Washington

From I-405 S, Take Exit 10 on Coal Creek Parkway toward Factoria

Turn left on SE May Valley Road

Turn left to stay on SE May Valley Road

Take the first left onto SE 112th Street

Licorice Fern Trailhead will be on the right after a sharp bend left.

Parking is along the street.

June 1, 2011 at 1:00 am 5 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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