After hiking 2 miles along Little Devils Stairs Trail, you reach a crossroads with Keyser Run Fire Road. If you just want to do the 6-mile loop, you turn left. If you want to see mountain vistas, you turn right to shuttle back and forth to the viewpoints.
Keyser Run Fire Road going toward Skyline Drive is a treasure trove of wildflowers. In the summer you can see more variety, but on this autumn day in late September we saw many different flowers: Asters, Goldenrod, Daisies, Evening Primrose, Milkweed, Great Lobelia, and more. The flower colors were varying shades of purple, yellow, and white.
Common Evening Primrose
The Common Evening Primrose, or Oenothera biennis, is a member of the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae) and blooms June to September. It grows throughout most of North America and in fields and along roadsides.
The flowers open in the evening and close to noon (we saw it at midday). Evening Primrose oil has many medicinal uses, including treatment for skin disorders and symptoms related to pregnancy.
Common Milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca, is a member of the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) and blooms June to August. A native plant, it grows throughout central and eastern North America. It favors old fields, roadsides, and waste places. When flowering, it attracts butterflies. It is also a larval host for Monarch butterflies.
Here you see the pod and seeds. The pod opens up and lets the seeds fly in autumn and winter. We plucked a couple off and tested how far they would go – they float on the wind for quite some distance!
Stiff-leaved Aster, or Ionactis linariifolius, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms August to October. A native plant, it grows throughout central and eastern North America in dry clearings and rocky banks. The color of the flower ranges from deep lavender to shades of pink and white.