Second Wildflower Pilgrimage to West Virginia

Bread feeds the body indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. — The Koran

It was the 53rd Wildflower Pilgrimage in Davis, WV, but our second trip.  The Blackwater Inn in Davis was the host. This year my wife and I chose two different trips and spent part of Sunday at a third choice before coming home.

Cranesville Swamp

This Nature conservancy location straddles the Maryland/West Virginia border. It is a relict community that is left over from the ice age because this West Virginia area is cold enough to maintain a boreal environment, at least so far, if climate change doesn’t make that impossible in the future. I had entered from the Maryland side previously and wasn’t aware that there was a boardwalk through the bog accessible only from the WV side, which is where went this time. This is one of the advantages of the Pilgrimage:  people who really kRoundLeavedSundewSF2now the area can show you the best places and help identify the flowers and birds. Because of the cold spring, some things that might normally be in bloom weren’t.  I was able to get one very nice sundew.   Others saw some water snakes playing in an open area.  Numerous flowers along the trail.

You can get travel directions from the Nature Conservancy website for Cranesville Swamp.

Cathedral State Park

Jack-in-thePulpitSF1The second half of the first day was spent at Cathedral State Park.  I had been there before, but this trip was disappointing because it was rather dry and more open than usual due to storms that pulled down some old trees.  This park has some really magnificent old hemlocks. It also has the biggest dandelions I have ever seen.  Cathedral State Park is well-marked on most maps and you enter off of Route 50 in Aurora, WV.

Otter Creek Wilderness

On Saturday we went to Otter Creek Wilderness.  After a short trail hike there is a somewhat shaky bridge over Otter Creek. It is a replacement for a swinging bridge taken OtterCreekCascade3down at high water.  A bit after the bridge there is some rough trail climbing over rocks with some muddy spots for about a quarter mile, but then the trail smooths out with Painted Trilliumsome very nice wildflowers. A small wadeable stream crosses the trail about 1 mile in with some very nice little cascades a short ways upstream.


 Fernow Experimental Forest

We were on our own on this one, and with another couple mistakenly drove up some pretty rough trails before turning around and getting some better directions.  We stopped at only one location, near some maintenance buildings and a low water bridge.  Around the bridge were gobs of Showy Orchis and other wildflowers.  A really nice location.

ShowyOrchisSF3In Parsons, make a left at the Subway shop and then almost immediately another left. Car GPS coordinates for a little ways into the forest was:  N 39.07997° and W 079.64925° (you are on your own with these directions),

Waterfalls and Lakeshore Near Baltimore

If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it. – Jay Maisel

As a nature photographer I sometimes feel a bit stranded here in the populous mid-Atlantic. Yes, there are great areas in West Virginia and Shenandoah, parts of western Maryland aren’t bad, and there are some good areas northeast of Harrisburg.  But what if I just have a few hours?  I recently found, or re-discovered three areas, all water-related with the help of the Hunt Valley Photography Club, which is really a meet-up, more than a typical camera club.

Cascade Falls in Patapsco State Park.  The first one is the small falls in Patapsco State Park on the Cascade Falls Trail. I had been there before, but was having trouble finding it again.  Take I-95S from I-695 to I-195 E to Route 1 (the first exit off of I-195). Normally you could go a very short distance to turn right South St. and bear left onto River Road, but that exit is currently closed for construction, so continue south on Route 1 (Washington Ave.) to the next light at Levering Ave., make a right at the light and bear right to continue onto River Road, which is currently unpaved or partly paved.  Go past the first playground on your right and continue about 2 miles to the building on your left the bridge on your right and a parking lot just past the building. CascadeFallsPan1 The trailhead is between the building and the parking lot or an alternate trailhead at the far end of the parking lot. From either trailhead go to your left.  In just about 100 yards you can see some cascades across the valley. Continue another 100 yards to the falls.  The trail continues left around the falls. The coordinates for the parking lot are:  N 39° 14.478′   W 076° 45.034′.

Kilgore Falls. This falls is located in the Falling Branch Road part of Rocks State Park, and is NOT shown on map 3 of my 1992 version of the Harford County ADC map, but is off Clermont Mill Rd on Falling Branch Road, southwest of the itnersecton of Rocks Rd. (Route 24) and Harkins Rd (Route 136).  You can find more information at Falling Branch Trail to Kilgore Falls, the Maryland Geological Survey and Harford County. The hike begins from the parking lot at N 39° 41.403″  W 076° 25.365″. At the trail fork, if you go left, you KilgoreFalls (3)can cross the stream at some steppingstones to reach the other side and get to the base of the falls.  I went after a strong rain, and the stream was a bit too high to safely cross.  If you go to the right at the trail fork, it takes you to the top of the falls, where this picture was taken.  You can cross here too, and it is narrower a single mid-stream hop, but the flow is also greater. The address is 1050 Falling Branch Rd., Pylesville, MD 21132 according to my Garmin GPS.

Peerce’s Cove.  This area is a sandy beach area on Loch Raven reservoir facing west across the lake.  To get there, take the beltway to exit 27 north (Dulaney Valley Road).  After a few miles, you will go over the reservoir bridge and approach the traffic light…at the light you will stay to the right on Dulaney Valley Road.  After that split, you will drive for maybe a mile or so until you pass Peerce’s Plantation restaurant on your left.  Once you pass the restaurant, stay to your right when the road splits…the road then becomes Loch Raven Drive.  LochRavenSunsetzAfter another mile or so on Loch Raven drive you will see Morgan Mill Road on your left, the cove will be on your right about 0.2 – 0.3 miles further. You can park your car on the street right by the cove.  If you reach the bridge, which is a few hundred yards past the cove, you’ve gone too far.  There is also parking on Morgan Mill Rd., right off Loch Raven Drive.