George Washington National Forest: Buzzard Rock Part 5

Continued from Part 4

We shuttled back along Buzzard Rock Trail back to the intersection. Although it is a ridge, the inclines and declines are such that our legs usually get tired by this point. There was a bit of huffing and puffing.

To get back to the parking lot you can either go back the way you came or find an old path not far from the crossroads (about 22 meters beyond) marked with a yellow blaze. It is easier to find in the winter than the summer. Taking this trail is actually shorter than going back on the Tuscarora/Massanutten Trail. We like variety in scenery, so we always take this path back down the mountain.

The path is quite wide in some places and it is obvious that the road must have been used by horses and workmen for mining purposes linked with Elizabeth Furnace, which I mentioned before is not far from the parking area. Elizabeth Furnace was a blast furnace that produced pig iron from 1836-1888.

It seems this yellow-blazed trail is not maintained much anymore – in a couple parts there are trees that have fallen down and look like they’ve been lying there for years. You either have to go around or climb over them.

We found this little wildflower by the side of the trail.

Indian Tobacco

Indian Tobacco

Indian Tobacco, or Lobelia inflata, is a member of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) and blooms June to October. It grows in open woods and along roadsides throughout eastern North America. Native Americans smoked the dried leaves like tobacco to treat asthma. However, be warned! It’s root is poisonous and Lobelia is considered a potentially toxic herb, depending on the dosage. If you are ever interested in using it for medicinal purposes, please consult a doctor.

Clustered Bonnet Mushrooms

Clustered Bonnet Mushrooms

Clustered Bonnet Mushrooms

Clustered Bonnet, Oak-stump Bonnet Cap, Elf Cap Mushrooms, or Mycena inclinata, grow in clusters on the well decayed wood of hardwoods, primarily in eastern North America.

We found these cute clustered mushrooms on a fallen tree. I loved to see how they lined up and the effect of taking a macro photo of them with f/2.8.

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There weren’t that many more wildflowers along the old trail. However, I did discover a bunch of bushes of Asters next to the river near our parking spot after we finished hiking. I took a bunch of pictures thinking that they might be different types of Asters, but after studying the photos, I realized that they are all the same!

Heart-leaved Aster

Heart-leaved Aster

The Heart-leaved Aster, Broad-leaved Aster, Common Blue Wood Aster, Heartleaf Aster, or Aster cordifolius, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms August to October. It blooms in earlier months down in the south. A native plant, it grows throughout eastern and central North America.

The following pictures are also of the Heart-leaved Aster.

Of course, the easiest way to identify this type of Aster is by its leaves. Check out this website for some good examples of the leaves.

Heart-leaved Aster

The petals also seem to be kind of stiff and round.

Heart-leaved Aster

And as you can see, the leaves and stems at the top of the plant look different from the bottom. At first when I was reviewing this set of images with the black background I thought it might be a Stiff Aster because of the spiky small leaves jutting out from the stem. Luckily, I took a couple pictures of the leaves further down the stem and was able to identify it as a Heart-leaved Aster as well.

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The Buzzard Rock hike is neither too long, nor too difficult. Although you end up shuttling back and forth along the ridge, which can be a little boring, especially if you’ve been there multiple times, there is always something new to see and the view from Buzzard Rock is worth it. It is a great option for anyone that wants to do a day hike and be able to see some beautiful mountain scenery, as well as a range of plants and wildlife. If you have time, there are also a couple trails near Elizabeth Furnace that have plaques detailing the history of the area that are interesting to read.

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