Monday, May 13, 2013

Featured Sight of Interest - Poor Mountain Hike

IF YOU ARE EAGER FOR A MOUNTAIN HIKE WITH SPECTACULAR VIEWS THEN POOR MOUNTAIN NATURAL AREA PRESERVE IS FOR YOU!
Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve is a 925-acre Natural Area Preserve located on Poor Mountain in Roanoke County, Virginia. The preserve has the world's largest population of the rare piratebush. This preserve is just 45 minutes drive from The Claiborne House B&B.

While the 0.75-mile Piratebush Loop interpretive trail affords a relatively level and easy hiking opportunity, the main loop trail affords a strenuous 3.8-mile hike with over 500 feet of vertical drop and return climb.  Stone stairs, scenic vistas, fire ecology and outstanding looks at Table Mountain pine woodlands make the Poor Mountain Trail a great new recreational resource now available to the general public in the Roanoke area.

SITE DESCRIPTION:
In autumn, the forest slopes and ridgetops of Poor Mountain are brightened by the brilliant yellow foliage of piratebush. Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve protects the world's largest population of this globally rare shrub, which is restricted to only a handful of sites in the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The mountain is named for its impoverished soils weathered from metamorphosed sandstone bedrock. The ridgetop, 3,000 feet in elevation, is predominantly a xeric Table Mountain pine and oak woodland. Piratebush is a dominant understory shrub in this community along with huckleberry and blueberry. Piratebush is also found with mountain laurel in the hemlock ravines and mesic pine forests of the lower elevations.

VISITATION: 
Public access facilities include a small parking area and a short hiking trail. Directions here on our favorite website RoanokeOutside.com. It is not on any Google map.


Piratebush is considered one of the rarest shrubs in eastern North America!

MORE ABOUT THIS RARE SHRUB: The leafy shrub in the photo above  to the right is piratebush.
Found at only a few locations in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, piratebush is considered one of the rarest shrubs in eastern North America. It thrives on Poor Mountain, however, which has more specimens than all other known populations combined. The reason for this abundance is unknown. There are places throughout the southern Appalachians with seemingly identical habitat conditions but no piratebush. The species is typically found on moderately dry, wooded slopes with open canopies. While it is often associated with hemlock (Tsuga spp.), which it parasitizes, a wide variety of trees, shrubs and herbs are also suitable hosts. At Poor Mountain piratebush mainly seems to parasatize table mountain pine (Pinus pungens). Piratebush also seems to do well in areas that have experienced periodic wildfires. Indeed, there are many signs of past fires on Poor Mountain.


This is part of the series "100 Things to See and Do Within 100 Miles" of The Claiborne House.

My family asked me what I wanted to do for Mother's Day, and this was what I requested. As the saying goes, what goes down must come up...you get my drift. We hiked a total of 4.5 miles, and it is not for the faint of heart. Today even my shoulders hurt, but it was worth it! 
ISN'T IT TIME FOR A BLUE RIDGE DAY Y'ALL?