Heading into the GWNF out of Wardensville on Waite's Run Road, we parked at the bridge over Waite's Run and walked the County Line section of the Tuscarora north towards route 55, stopping for lunch at the Paul Gerhard shelter, one of the nicest and cleanest shelters I've seen on any trail. The shelter is about halfway between Waite's Run Road and Route 55, about 4 miles in. From the shelter, we looped back on the east side of the mountain back through Wilson Cove to the car.
|The Start of the Hike|
|Our Loop Hike on the Tuscarora|
In a couple of miles, the Wilson Cove Trail goes right by Wilson Cove and empties right back into Waite's Run Road. It's maybe just shy of a mile back to the bridge over Waite's Run where we parked. The entire loop was 11 miles. The stated mileage was 10.6 miles, but PATC has relocated the Gerhard Shelter Trail so that it is no longer a straight shot down the hill, but rather a more pleasant walk with switchbacks. It is still pretty steep though.
|Common Speedwell, Veronica officinalis|
|Stunning Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia|
|A Much Pinker Mountain Laurel|
|Yellow Violet, Viola pubescens|
|Shelf Fungi Still Life|
|North American Millipede, Narceus americana|
|Red Eft, the Juvenile Stage Eastern Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens|
|Snowbells, Likely Styrax grandifolia|
|Pink Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium acaule|
|False Solomon's Seal, Maianthemum racemosum|
|A Greenbrier, Likely Bristly Greenbrier, Smilax hispida|
|Annie Gets a Trail Name: "Layer Break"|
|Another Gorgeous Azalea|
|The Blueberry Crop Looks Great This Year|
|Nearing the Ridge, in the Clouds|
|The Ridge Top Views Were Astounding; Not!|
|Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica|
|Smelling the Fringetree|
|Basketball-Sized Clump of White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus|
|Northern Arrow-wood, Viburnum recognitum|
|Paul Gerhard Shelter|
Even though the new trail is less steep than the old, it is still pretty steep. If you are staying in the shelter, you are not going to want to walk 6/10 of a mile down this hill to the spring and then tote your water back up. You are best advised to pack it in from the nearest source.
As we were walking down to and by the spring, the flora really started changing on the east side of the mountain compared to the west. All of a sudden, Rattlesnake Weed was blooming everywhere and here and there were clumps of Long-leaved Bluets, the first I have seen this year. Several Wood Thrushes entertained us with their enchanting calls as we made our way down to the forest service road, where we emerged into light sunshine (finally!) and turned right and south along the east flank of the mountain.
The walk at this point was flat to downhill along a gravel road which ended about 3/4 of a mile along, only to continue as an un-blazed path through the woods. Soon enough, this trail would merge directly into the yellow-blazed Vance's Cove Trail. Although this sounds like a lot of landmarks to look for, it really isn't any big deal; you just keep walking straight ahead south. Alas, horses have really torn parts of this trail all to hell and there are a lot of sloppy and muddy sections.
Finally, the Vance's Cove Trail ends at another forest service road, which is labeled the Wilson Cove Trail. The road runs right along the border and as you move from north to south, you cross back into West Virginia, having been in Virginia since leaving the shelter. A right on Wilson Cove Trail will take you back to Waite's Run Road and your vehicle.
|Coming South into West Virginia|
|Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea, Very Common Here|
|Meadow Hawkweed, Hieracium caespitosum|
|False Dandelion with a Bee Visitor|
|Ox-eye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare|
|Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia|
|Field Horsetail, Equisetum arvense|
|Yarrow, Achillea millefolium|
|Eastern Gray Penstemon, Penstemon canescens|
Rattlesnake Weed, Hieracium venosum
|Seven-spotted Ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata, on Yarrow|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus|
|Creek Empties into Waite's Run|