Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area

Last weekend, we went for a short-ish hike with a friend in Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia. Although we haven't been hiking as much as in some years, we are trying to branch out and see different places. This turned out to be a very nice hike that is relatively close by and we didn't see another soul on the trip. We had relatively cool, if a bit humid, overcast weather.

We started the hike at a parking lot off of Pack Horse Trail Road and hiked up the white-blazed High Rock Trail. It is initially flat, but then climbs steadily up to the top of the ridge. The trails in this area clearly do not get a lot of use as the they were pretty overgrown. There were many times that we hiked through knee deep grass, which is perfect tick habitat. There were lots of great flowers and a few ripe blueberries and blackberries.
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace) in a meadow along the High Rock Trail.
 Clinopodia vulgaris (Wild Basil)
Chimaphila maculata (Striped Wintergreen)

At the top of the ridge, we reached the junction with the Tuscarora Trail. We took a quick break for lunch and then headed up to a short side trail to a rock formation called the Mini Knife Edge. The Mini Knife Edge is a little spine of rock on top of the ridge. There's just enough room to scramble along it to the end of the path and then turn around. 
Michael looking east from the end of the side path.
The rocks certainly looked like great place to find snakes. We saw one briefly as it slithered away from us and then we found a shed snake skin. This was definitely from a rattlesnake.
Bootshot from the top of the Mini Knife Edge.
This is the first time I've ever seen a definitely marking the end of a path.

After exploring the rocks, we went back down to the Tuscarora Trail and followed it south. It kept to the ridgeline, so we occasionally got views to the west. 
A butterfly on Asclepias exaltata (Tall Milkweed)
An interesting caterpillar on a leaf.
Looking west from Shockey's Knob.
We took a short detour to check out Shockey's Knob Shelter. It is one of the nicer ones I've seen, complete with a bit of artwork (the branch and leaves on the front of the shelter). The shelters on the Tuscarora Trail are meant to function the same way as those on the Appalachian Trail, but as of now, there are far fewer of them.
On our descent off of the ridge on the Mill Creek Trail, we crossed a stream that was lined with Rhododenron maximum (Great Rhododendron) bushes. 

1 comment:

  1. I did two circuits in the southern end of Sleepy Creek recently, and the solitude factor made them two of my best walks in recent memory. The scenery and potential wildlife sightings are also very good. I really like your writeup.