Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Few More Miles of the Appalachian Trail: Hogback Mountain to Compton Gap

We got out for a hike on the Appalachian Trail on Sunday with two friends. We hiked about 11 miles from Hogback Mountain to Compton Gap in the north district of Shenandoah National Park. The weather was stunningly beautiful: It was in the 50s when we started. The hike is generally downhill in the direction that we did it, although there are several big mountains to climb over, including South Mount Marshall, North Mount Marshall and Compton Peak. We saw a few people along the way, lots of flowers, and an old house foundation and orchard. It isn't an isolated hike by any means. The trail through the park mostly follows Skyline Drive and this is no exception. It crosses the drive in several places and one can almost always hear cars driving on it. That being said, it was pretty and we got lots of nice overlooks.
Hiking through open forest near Hogback Mountain. This was a very pleasant section of the trail. Hay-scented ferns carpet the forest floor.
Symphyotrichum undulatum (Wavy Leaved Aster). The asters are in full bloom right now. This was just one of many species that we encountered.
Eutrochium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed)
Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower). I love these plants. The roadsides and meadows are full of them right now.
The view from South Mount Marshall.
Looking down on a stand of oak trees.
The view from North Mount Marshall.
Eregeron annuus (Daisy Fleabane) on North Mount Marshall.
A little purple mushroom along the trail.
A signpost at a road crossing.
A butterfly (Great Spangled Fritillary) on Ageratina alstissima (White Snakeroot).
Smilax herbacea (Carrion flower). These blue berries were in a clearing near Compton Peak. Thanks to David Cox for the comment identifying them. I have no idea what they are. The leaves around them are on the same vine as the berries. The cluster is about the size of a baseball. If anyone knows what they are, let me know in the comments.


  1. The berries could be carrion flower, Smilax herbacea. The butterfly is probably a great spangled fritillary.