From the turnoff point onto Tuscarora Trail, you have 4.9 miles to go to reach the parking lot.
Violet Wood Sorrel
Violet Wood Sorrel, or Oxalis violacea, is a member of the Wood Sorrel family (Oxalidaceae). Normally it blooms April to June, but it often blooms again in autumn. A native wildflower, it grows throughout most of the United States, except some states in the West. This plant favors open woods, banks, rocky ground, and prairies.
The Blatchley’s Walkingstick, Blatchley Walkingstick, or Manomera blatchleyi, is a type of Walking Stick, or stick insect. These insects can usually be found in bushes and on small trees. They can camouflage to hide from birds and other predators. We were surprised when we looked close at it – the face looks like an elongated mini-lobster!
The hike back to the parking lot is a lot easier than the way up. Besides being downhill, it is a lot less rocky. The Tuscarora Trail is also a popular path for mountain bikers, particularly the last 4.1 miles.
Oriental Lady’s Thumb
Oriental Lady’s Thumb, Long-bristled Smartweed, or Polygonum caespitosum, is a member of the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) and blooms June to October. It reaches heights of one to three feet and can be found in waste spaces and along streambeds. Naturalized from eastern Asia, it now grows throughout most of eastern and central United States. It can be distinguished by the long bristles on the leaf sheath — the structure at the base of a leaf stem that partly surrounds it for protection.
Common Mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, is a member of the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and blooms June to September. Naturalized from Europe, it now grows throughout North America, favoring fields, roadsides, and waste places. The fluffy leaves used to be used as warm padding for shoes in winter by Native Americans and colonists alike. Tea made from the leaves was used to treat colds, coughs, and asthma. The leaves can be applied to the skin to soothe sunburn and inflammation.
We noticed that the forest starts to get much more quiet in the fall and winter, as the animals and birds start to find shelter. It makes for solitary and peaceful hiking conditions in a way that is different from the spring and summer.
Overall, the 9.9 mile loop is not strenuous. The only tough part is during the first few miles when you walk over a bunch of rocks. But you could think of that as a deep foot massage. The views are not amazing, but you can still see a few along the way. However, the other parts of the trail can be a bit boring at times. It’s still a good hike – we’ve been there twice already. If you’re looking for length, but not a strenuous climb, I would recommend this loop trail.