Shenandoah National Park: Graves Mill Trail – Rapidan River Shuttle Part 1

Many wildflowers were blooming along the trail we went to last weekend. We did a shuttle hike along Graves Mill Trail and Rapidan River Road, back and forth totaling 7 miles. You start from the Graves Mill parking lot, the same place you start when going to Bear Church Rock, but instead of turning up the hill, you just continue walking along the river. On this sunny warm day there were many people already in the area – the parking lot was full. Not only can you go hiking here, but it is a popular trail for horseback riding as well as fishing.

The trees were still mostly bare, but the forest floor was starting to bloom, with whole areas carpeted in green plants. It was so exciting to see the forest gradually coming back to life after lying dormant over the winter.

The trail itself is rather flat and easy. Our purpose on this day was to leisurely take pictures of the river and wildflowers.

Bloodroot

Bloodroot, Red Indian Paint, Red Puccoon, or Sanguinaria canadensis, is a member of the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae) and blooms March to May in rich woodlands and along streams. A native wildflower, it grows throughout eastern and central North America. The flower opens in sunlight and closes at night. The name for this flower comes from the red sap of the underground stem that was used by Native Americans for dye and war paint.

Star Chickweed

Star Chickweed, or Stellaria pubera, is a member of the Carnation Family (Caryophyllaceae) and blooms March to May in rich woods and on rocky slopes. A native plant, it grows mostly in the eastern United States.

Cutleaf Toothwort

Cutleaf Toothwort, or Cardamine concatenata, is a member of the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) and blooms March to May in waste places and along roadsides. A native plant, it grows throughout east and central North America. The little flower clusters can be white or pink.

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And these were just a few of the little treasures we found near the parking lot! The sunny open forest and riverside conditions seem to be great for wildflowers.

Continue to Part 2

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