As winter has passed week after week my husband and I have hiked in the mountains surrounded by brown – dead leaves and barren trees. Most weeks I haven’t bothered to bring my camera and macro lens, because there were no wildflowers to take pictures of. I’ve been looking forward to finally being able to take wildflower pictures again.
We wanted to go somewhere where we knew we would find wildflowers. The solution? To go to wildflower goldmine Snead Farm Loop, of course!
The view from the field in front of the visitor center is lovely.
The trail starts in the meadow across the road from the visitor center, off to the right. You follow Dickey Ridge trail for a little before reaching a fork. We turned left, which takes you by Snead Farm barn first, as well as a fire road that is usually full of wildflower treasures.
We were not disappointed.
Spicebush, Northern Spicebush, Wild Allspice, or Lindera benzoin, is a member of the Laurel Family (Lauraceae) and blooms dense clusters of little yellow flowers from March to April. Later, it bears shiny red berries. A native plant, it grows throughout eastern and central North America, favoring swamps and woods. Its leaves and twigs can make a tea and its dried powdered fruit can be used as a spice.
Coltsfoot, or Tussilago farfara, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae) and blooms from February to June along roadsides and in waste places. This plant was introduced from Europe and now grows mostly in northeastern North America. It was named “Coltsfoot” after the shape of its leaf. An extract from fresh leaves can be used for making cough drops and its dried leaves can be made into a tea.
The stone remnants of a house, a spring, this old barn, and a cellar remain in a meadow that has a stream running through it. According to Hiking through History Virginia: Exploring the Old Dominion’s Past by Trail by Johnny Molloy, Mr. Snead operated a farm and apple orchard here. The farm was incorporated into Shenandoah National Park in the 1960s.
This area is fun to explore. Even though you can’t go into the barn, there is a window you can peer into if you stand on your tip-toes. Last year some vultures were using the barn for a nest. When we passed by in the summer we saw one hanging out in the window.