But over coffee on Sunday morning, Ann asked me if I wanted to talk a walk. Given that it was a beautiful day and beautiful days come along rarely in August, I figured a stroll around the neighborhood would be OK. She had other things in mind though and said we were headed up to the high school to follow some trails through the woods on the Third Winchester Battlefield. Well, OK then. I had never been there before and was mildly curious to see what was to be seen.
So just a bit of history before the tour of the battlefield. Winchester, thanks to its location on the major north-south routes through the Shenandoah Valley and the major east-west routes through the gaps in the Blue Ridge Mountains has always been an important place in this part of the world. And in the Civil War, the side that claimed Winchester could control the travel and shipping routes both north-south and east towards DC. And so, it was the scene of many important battles and the city changed hands over and over again during the course of the war.
The battle that raged along Opequon Creek and Redbud Run in 1864 has come to be called the Third Battle of Winchester and historians consider it one of the most, if not the most, important battles in the Shenandoah Valley. Fast forward 150 years: the Civil War is big business in these parts and there are a lot of people dedicated to preserving the battlefields from development. Third Winchester is a relatively large park with about 600 mostly contiguous acres open to the public, free of charge. It spans a good bit of the northeast corner of the intersection of VA Route 7 and I-81, bounded by 7 to the south and 81 to the west.
We ended up walking 5.1 miles at a pretty good clip because we weren't wearing packs and it is almost entirely flat ground, with the exception of the Redbud Run creek valley. We started at Millbrook High School and walked through the woods into the open fields, walked to the westernmost boundary along I-81 and then south through the woods on brand new trail to the trailhead behind Winchester Gateway shopping center, then north across the creek to the trailhead on Redbud Road and back again to the car. I think five miles at a good pace constitutes a hike on our part and so we are counting it against our 52 hikes for this year.
|One of Dozens of Interpretive Signs|
|Looking South over Battlefield|
|Common Germander, Teucrium canadense|
|Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata|
|Sweet Pea, Lathyrus latifolius|
|Goldenrods Finally Starting to Bloom|
|Wild Basil, Clinopodium vulgare|
|Indian Hemp, Apocynum cannabinum, Seed Pods|
|Spotted Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis|
|Sweet White Clover, Melilotus albus|
|Narrowleaf Tick-trefoil, Desmodium paniculatum|
|Huge Osage Orange Clump, Maclura pomifera|
|Horses at Hackwood Farm|
|Redbud Run Lined with Marsh Mallows|
|Marsh Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos|
|Flowering Spurge, Euphorbia corollata|
|Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis|
|Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa|
|2-Metre Tall Sunflower, Perhaps Helianthus divaricatus|
|Picket Fence on the Battlefield|