The trip from Winchester started poorly the evening before with me forgetting my sunglasses at work, thinking I would get them on the way out of town the following morning, and then leaving my work keys at home. Doh! Luckily we were headed west and the sun was behind us all the way out. From Winchester, we took Middle Road out to its junction with route 55 (which is also posted as the new US 48, to be moved when the four lane is finally put in, if it ever is) at Lebanon Church. Route 55 heads up over Great North Mountain (the border between our county, Frederick, and Hardy County, West Virginia), down into Wardensville, and then becomes Corridor H, which terminates 2100 feet higher just before Davis, WV where Blackwater Falls is situated.
I always enjoy the drive out Corridor H as it goes up and over each successive range in the ridge and valley system and then climbs the edge of the Allegheny Front massif just about Mount Storm, where the equally massive Mount Storm coal-fired power plant and the turbines of the Mount Storm Wind Farm dominate the landscape. The amount of effort it took to drive this beautiful four-lane highway through some of the most inhospitable terrine is awe inspiring. The expansive views always make me think that I am driving along the top of the world. In any case, it has made the trip over to Davis in Tucker County, very, very doable, and has certainly enhanced this area's reputation as the winter sports capital of the mid-Atlantic.
And so it was after an unhurried morning and a pot of coffee at home that we arrived at the lodge in Blackwater Falls State Park mid-morning. I was expecting to get a map from a ranger at a contact station on the way into the park like at just about every other park I know, but there are no contact stations and no entrance fees. I cannot believe that a park this gorgeous does not have admission fees. We went in to the front desk at the Blackwater Falls Lodge, run by the state park system, and got a map from them. While there, I asked about a walk that would get us away from people and one of the women rolled her eyes at me, knowing that the area is wildly popular. One of the guys suggested Pase Point, which I filed away as an idea for later or for the next day.
|The Lodge at Blackwater Falls|
We headed off on the Yellow Birch trail in the direction of the falls and almost immediately, all became quiet and peaceful in the hemlock and rhododendron forest, punctuated here and there with yellow birch. These are trees that we don't have in abundance back home. While the trail is pretty well blazed with yellow diamond blazes, the trail is really more of a suggestion than a trail in some places, the woods being so open that you can walk about in any direction and find little hint of a path. Still, only did we once have to hunt around to find the path: it appears that a blaze went missing so we didn't really know where to find the next blaze.
|Open Birch and Hemlock Woodlands, Tree on Rock|
|A Little Gymnastics Needed|
|Yet Another Crazy Rock/Tree|
|Yellow Birch Trail Namesake|
|Wild Cranberries, Vaccinium macrocarpon|
|Narrowleaf Gentian, Gentiana linearis|
|Cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium, in Sphagnum Bog|
|First View of Blackwater Falls|
|Blackwater Falls from the South|
|Beautiful Purple Aster|
|Blackwater River Above Falls|
|Blackwater River Looking Upstream|
|Blackwater Falls from North, Note Rainbow|
|Sixty-Two Feet High|
|Tea Colored Water Spills Over Ledge|
|She's Not Having Any Fun|
|Pink Turtlehead, Chelone lyonii, at Falls|
|Bittersweet Nightshade: Solanum dulcamara|
|Jack-in-the-Pulpit Berries: A Sign of Fall|
|The Selfie Queen|
|One of Many Crazy Trees|
|A Sure Sign of Fall|
Next: Part Two of our Labor Day Getaway