Sunday, April 24, 2011

Robertson Mountain: Wildflowers Everywhere

We have hiked by the trailhead for Robertson Mountain countless times when we've been on Old Rag.  The trailhead is about a mile up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road from the old upper parking lot.  SSW Spouse hiked it last fall while I was visiting family, but I had never been up there.  We wanted a relatively low key hike yesterday.  I had heard that Robertson was pretty steep, but with lots of fire road walking, we figured this would fit the bill.

We started from the lower parking lot for Old Rag, so we had to walk the 0.8 miles to the upper lot before starting up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.  The flowers started immediately.  We made it just past the Hughes River bridges, less than a quarter of a mile, and I had to stop to take pictures.  Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium) were everywhere.  As we climbed, we found Trillium grandiflora (Giant Trillium) and a flower I've never seen before on Old Rag or anywhere else:  Obolaria virginica (Pennywort).  The road itself was lined with redbuds and dogwoods blooming against the bright green of the new leaves on the larger trees.

At the Robertson Mountain trailhead, we left the road and began following Corbin Run steadily uphill.  Soon we left the run and began slowly switchbacking up the east side of Robertson Mountain.  Some of the switchbacks were steep, but nothing too difficult.  We caught an occasional glimpse of Old Rag, whose lower slopes were green with new leaves.  Numerous false summits dot the Robertson Mountain trail.  At least four or five times it seems that the top is just around the next corner, until you see the next rise above it.  After 1.6 miles, we reached the summit and got a nice view of Old Rag and Weakley Hollow.  I wondered where the steep part was supposed to be since it just wasn't that difficult of a climb.  On checking the map, I was surprised to learn that Robertson Mountain is actually five feet higher than Old Rag.  I had always been under the impression that it was lower.

The hike down was primarily on fire roads, once we walked the 0.8 miles down from the summit to the Old Rag Fire Road.  We enjoyed a leisurely walk, pausing to take pictures of wildflowers.  It was a really nice hike.  We saw just a couple of other people on the summit.  If one wanted to hike it with less road walking, one could connect the Corbin Hollow trail with the Robertson Mountain trail to make a loop.  We will probably try that next time since we haven't done the Corbin Hollow trail.

Lots of pictures (click to enlarge):

 Walking up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.  Spring has arrived.
 Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium).
Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)
 Obolaria virginica (Pennywort).  I had never seen this flower before.  After SSW Spouse noticed it the first time, we saw it everywhere.
Spring slowly moving up the slopes of Old Rag.
 Silene caroliniana (Wild Pink)
The summit of Old Rag. 
 Bootshot over Weakley Hollow from the summit of Roberston.
 Corydalis flavula (Yellow Corydalis).  The flowers are quite small, less than 1/2" long.
 Uvularia perfoliata (Bellwort).  This is a member of the lily family.  Its species name comes from the way the leaves wrap around the stem (see the leaf above the flower). 
 Potentilla canadensis (Dwarf Cinquefoil).  These little plants look similar to strawberries, particularly once the flowers fade, but their leaves have five parts instead of three. 
 Redbuds and dogwoods blooming along the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.
Anemone quinquefolia (Wood Anemone).

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