Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sleepy Creek WMA: Devils Nose

For our first warm day of hiking this year, we decided to go back to Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, which is located west of Martinsburg, West Virginia. We got a bit of a later start because our friend had a class first thing in the morning yesterday. That gave the weather a little extra time to warm up, which was pretty darn nice.

We started hiking at Spruce Pine Hollow Roadside Park. We stopped for lunch at Spruce Pin Hollow Shelter after only five minutes or so of hiking. It is one of the nicer (and newer shelters) I've seen. The crew that built the privy had quite the sense of humor. After lunch, we returned to the Tuscarora Trail and continued south. The trail goes up over a small hill and then descends to a dirt road. It then follows the road for about a mile through a private development. It seemed like every blue blaze on a telephone pole was accompanied by a sign saying, "Keep Out" or "No Trespassing." Clearly, the cabin owners are thrilled to have the trail follow the road through their neighborhood.

After about a mile, the trail leaves the road and climbs up one of the steepest set of switchbacks I've seen in the Mid-Atlantic. They seem like they are pretty new and the staircases in several places also appear to be relatively new. There is still flagging tape on trees marking the route. In any case, the trail crew did a nice job. Once on top of the ridge, we followed it to an outcrop called Devil's Nose. We took a long break in the warm sun there. We could hear Meadow Branch below us and the wind roaring above us. After our break, we continued along the Tuscarora Trail to a bridge crossing Meadow Branch. I looked for a quick path down to waterfalls I had seen from above, but I didn't find one. We decided it would definitely be worth another trip to explore the creek and photograph waterfalls.

We continued south on the Tuscarora Trail, intending to make it all the way to a view of Hedge Mountain. In the end, we reached our turnaround time and had to head back. We hiked back the way we came, reaching the car at dinnertime. As is true on much of the Tuscarora Trail, we didn't see very many people at all, aside from two large groups at the crossing of Meadow Branch. The weather was wonderful after so much cold. Some years, by this date in April, the woods are in full bloom. Not this year. The trees are just starting to bud out and even the earliest of spring flowers, bloodroot, isn't anywhere to be seen yet.
 Meadow Branch at Spruce Pine Hollow Park.
Spruce Pine Hollow Shelter.
The "Last Chance" privy at the shelter. Like I said, the construction crew definitely had a sense of humor.
Bootshot at Devils Nose.
The trees in the late afternoon light.
The worst deer stand ever.
Meadow Branch.
The bridge over Meadow Branch.
Looking north from the switchbacks on our way down the mountain.

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