At the intersection with Dickey Ridge Trail there were a bunch of little flowers ranging in color from white to dark purple.
Round-lobed Hepatica, or Anemone americana /Hepatica nobilis, is a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae) and blooms March to June in dry rocky woods. It is a native wildflower, growing throughout eastern and central North America.
According to my reference book, they can also be pink, but I have yet to see pink ones. I’ll have to keep a sharp eye out for them!
This was the first wildflower we saw blooming in Shenandoah National Park earlier this year.
After turning right onto Dickey Ridge Trail, you walk a bit before reaching Dickey Hill. This is a great place to stop and take in the scenery of the mountains and Shenandoah Valley over lunch. In later months, wildflowers can be found here as well as in the meadow above the hill.
We were lucky this time – we got to see a paraglider take off from Dickey Hill and float around! He was happy for us to take pictures.
The suiting-up process was quick. His gear looked substantial, including a screen with GPS tracking. He had to wait for the right wind, but also for there to be no people passing on the trail below. This took a little while, perhaps about ten minutes. And then he was off! I was expecting that he would need to take a running jump, but it was really only a couple steps and then the unfurled the wing/canopy and the wind lifted him up and forward.
He flew around for quite some time. It seems you can fly for a few hours. We snapped a bunch of pictures of his serene flight.
I’d never seen any paragliders in Shenandoah National Park before, so I looked it up. It is possible if you have a certification, a permit, and take off from an approved launch site. It seems you can do hang gliding from three sites, and paragliding from only one – Dickey Hill, or what they call the “Dickey Ridge launch site.”
We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to see a 22-degree sun halo from Dickey Hill. Sun halos are fairly common and are caused by the refraction of ice crystals in high thin clouds. The way the ice crystals are shaped makes the light refract 22 degrees.
As with every time we’ve been to Snead Farm Loop, I was thoroughly pleased with the variety of wildflowers and other nature that we saw on the trail. It’s a great place to come if you want to observe a lot of different aspects of Shenandoah National Park in a relatively short period of time.