Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mountain Wildflowers

If I weren't working on the Shenandoah National Park 500 (hike every trail in SNP, with nearly 300 miles to go), I might not have bothered hiking the Powell Mountain Trail Monday.  Given all of the wildflowers that I saw, like these golden ragworts, it would have been my loss.

It was a lovely and pretty well maintained trail.  Even though I brought my water shoes, there was only one tiny stream to cross and no chance of wet feet.  If I'd left 'em behind, of course there would have been a raging torrent to wade across!

Here is the track of the hike, starting and ending at the Hazeltop Vista on the Skyline Drive, hiking over Powell Mountain and moving 3.6 miles to the west (white) arrow, then turning around and hiking back (yellow arrow).  The hike starts at 3,300 feet and turns around at about 1.450 feet, so the hike back is a lot of uphill and both directions are good workouts.  I didn't see a single person the entire hike.

The highlights of the hike were the wildflowers - I recorded 20 species on iNaturalist - but I also saw a few salamanders and heard many birds.  I did periodic bird censuses and recorded the following 18 species: American robin, eastern phoebe, red-eyed vireo, ovenbird, wood thrush, blue jay, great-crested flycatcher, pileated woodpecker, black and white warbler, red-bellied woodpecker, tufted titmouse, barred owl, downy woodpecker, hooded warbler, grey catbird, Carolina wren, eastern towhee, and white-breasted nuthatch.

The very start of the hike had nice views over to the Shenandoah Valley, but after a few hundred feet of hiking, I was in the forest and the views were over.  So I concentrated on the small things - birds and wildflowers.

The woods at higher elevations are beginning to show signs of spring.

 As I descended, the forest became more leafed out.  Here is a flowering dogwood with mountain in the distance.

There were only two places where there were trees down across the trail.  This was the worst one.

Here, a young hemlock has managed to evade the wooly adelgid.

This was the turn around point, the trail having reached a gravel road outside the park boundary, nearly 1,900 feet below the starting and ending point in elevation.

My remaining photos are some of the wildflowers that I encountered...

Bird's foot violets:

Carolina vetch:

Common blue violet:

Common hawthorn:

Cut leaved toothwart:

Dwarf cinquefoil:

Flowering dogwood:

Large-flowered trillium:

Mountain azalea:

Wild geranium:

Wild pink:

I really enjoyed my time Monday hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and look forward to the next time.  Although there are not any grand views along this trail, the wildflowers and ability to communicate with nature while getting some good aerobic exercise make this a wonderful hike.


  1. So many beautiful wildflowers and you sure spotted a lot of different birds.
    Must have been a nice peaceful hike.

    1. I felt really blessed to be out in nature and seeing beautiful things while getting some badly needed exercise!