MOUNT ROGERS SUMMER NATURALIST RALLY
August 17-19, 2018
Buy one ticket and get three days of activities! Friday - Sunday!
Each year we assemble a wide variety of field trips with leaders who are experts in their field and who are able to make it understandable and interesting for everyone from inquisitive amateurs to accomplished naturalists. There is something for the entire family with field trips Saturday and Sunday, an expert speaker Friday Night, and nighttime programs at the campground. Topics include salamanders, butterflies, stream ecology, birding, snorkeling, cultural history, medicinal plants, general natural history, and much much more!
NOTE: Opportunity to choose your field trips will begin Friday at 4PM. All field trips have a limited number of participants and will be first-come-first-serve basis. All times listed are actual departure times. Please allow extra time if you still need to register. All trips will go out regardless of weather conditions! Come prepared!
Friday Night Dinner
Our Friday Night Dinners feature a lovingly-prepared menu of locally-sourced ingredients, complete with dessert! Please join us for this great meal to catch up with old friends and register for your favorite field trips before they fill up! The summer menu will be announced soon. Dinner is by pre-paid reservation ONLY. There will be no dinners sold at the door. Registration is due by August 10th.
1 Ticket for $5; 5 for $20; 20 for $40
Support BRDC’s Annual Scholarship Fund!! Door Prizes will be drawn during Saturday Lunch at 12:45PM. Must be present to win.
Previous prizes have included:
- 10x32 Vortex Diamondback Binoculars, Valued at $239
- Framed Wildlife Photograph by Jay Martin, Valued at $200
- T-shirts and more!
Join us Friday, August 17th at 7:00PM for a presentation by a special guest speaker.
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Details coming soon!
Special Kids Programs
Darin Handy provides both education and entertainment for our youngest of naturalists. Join him for one or both sessions Saturday.
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BUILD A BIRDHOUSE! Darin Handy will offer a workshop for kids at the Konnarock Community Center. Kids will have an opportunity to build birdhouses to take home. All supplies provided. Limit 15 kids.
SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIPS
Field trips depart at 8:00AM on Saturday Morning from the Konnarock Community Center. Hike options include: Hike to Mount Rogers, Salamanders, Edible/Medicinal Plants, Appalachian Trail Hike, Elk Garden Hike, Geology, History, and a Biological Survey of the Appalachian Cove Forest.
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All Day Hike to Mt. Rogers: Phil Shelton, Emeritus Professor of Biology at UVA College at Wise, and Richard Davis, will lead this nine-mile round trip hike to Virginia’s highest point. Natural history, including geology, climate, plants, animals, and cultural history will be discussed. Sturdy shoes, dress for high altitude weather, food, and water are necessary.
Salamanders: Kevin Hamed, Professor of Biology, Virginia Highlands Community College. Explore the incredible salamander diversity of Whitetop Mountain. Whitetop Mountain is home to 15 plethodontid salamanders and we will have a chance to view several species. Hike begins at Elk Garden Trail and will survey 2 different habitats.
Edible and Medicinal Plants: Wild forager, Carrie Sparks, will introduce you to the world of foraging for wild foods and medicine with a focus on the plants we most commonly think of as weeds. Identify common plants that can be used for food or medicine.
MRTC Hike: If you want to add a nice walk to your nature study, join the Mt. Rogers Appalachian Trail Club on an easy 2.5 mile hike from Whitetop to Elk Garden. Explore natural history and trail tales on one of the most beautiful trail sections in our area.
Elk Garden Hike: Claiborne Woodall
Geology: Bill Whitlock
History: Tom Blevins
Appalachian Cove Forest Summer Biological Survey: Participants are invited to be scientists for a day! Join Devin Floyd (co-founder of BRDC) for a half-day biological survey of a rich forest at Grindstone Campground. We will be building on the surveys of 2016 and 2017, review those findings, and work to add to that growing body of knowledge by surveying summer flora, fauna, mosses, lichens, and fungi. Participants will help build a species list at the site and learn how/why ecosystems are named. We hope to answer the following questions: What flora, fungi, and fauna make their home here? What types of rocks, minerals, and soils are present? What kind of ecosystem is this? How do we know? How does its biological richness stack up against other Virginia ecosystems?
Saturday Afternoon Field Trips
Field trips depart at 1:00PM from the Konnarock Community Center. Join us for these excursions: Stream Ecology, Spruce Forest, Snorkeling, Butterflies, Mushrooms, Rare Plant Monitoring, Round Leaf Birch, Non-native Invasive Abatement, and a Study Skin Workshop.
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Stream Ecology: Join Grayson Patton to study stream ecology in Big Laurel Creek and learn about macro-invertebrates and the habitats they need to thrive in these freshwater systems.
Spruce Forest: Join ecologist and forester Austin Thomas in White Top Mountain's Red Spruce Forest. Learn about the natural history of glacial refugia in the Southern Appalachians and the unique flora and fauna found in these high elevation habitats.
Snorkeling: Join Mike Pinder, Wildlife Diversity Biologist for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, to investigate the aquatic life of a stream with wetsuit and snorkel mask. Ever wonder what lurks beneath the water’s surface? You will be amazed at what you see! Expect an array of colorful native ﬁsh from darters to dace, and search for Hellbenders.
Butterflies of Southwest Virginia: After a brief discussion on identification and photography, Bruce Grimes will lead a group to look for butterflies around the community center then head to Elk Garden. Expected butterflies include the silver-spotted skipper, pearl crescent, American copper, and a variety of fritillaries and swallowtails.
Mushrooms: Ken Crouse
Rare Plant Monitoring: Join Conner McBane, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, on a rare plant monitoring hike up on Whitetop Mountain. The hike is 2.4 miles from Whitetop Mountain trailhead down to Elk Garden along the Appalachian Trail. During our hike we will be counting rare plant species to ensure their continued protection up on Whitetop Mountain.
Round Leaf Birch: Gerald Bresowar
Non-Native Invasive Abatement: Jay Martin
Study Skin Workshop: Darin Handy/Jay Martin
Sunday Field Trips
Field trips depart at 8:00AM on Sunday Morning from the Grindstone Campground Parking Lot. Hike options include: Birding and Caving.
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Birding: Aaron Floyd
Caving: Jason Lachniet, Walker Mountain Grotto and the National Speleological Society, will lead a group caving. Be prepared to get wet and muddy spending half the time walking and the other half crawling on hands and knees...or your belly!
Join us Friday and Saturday night for the BRDC staff at Grindstone Campground for Star Watches.
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Friday and Saturday Night Star Watch: Join BRDC astronomer Evan Worrell for a exploration of the stars. Friday night meet at the Community Center. Saturday night meet at Grindstone Campground parking lot. Activities begins at 8:30PM and will last as long as you!
Although the focus is on Grindstone Campground, there are a number of other options available in the area including overnight lodging in "Downtown Konnarock" through Airbnb. Beartree Campground is also located within 10 miles of Konnarock. Other local options include Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and rental cabins. Try www.virginiablueridge.org for more lodging information.
The Konnarock Community Center (Address: 6535 Whitetop Rd, Troutdale, VA 24378) From I-81, take exit 35 (Chilhowie), go south on RT 762, passing Hardee’s. Follow this for 3.6 miles to the flashing light at intersection. Keeping straight the road becomes RT 600, crossing Iron Mountain (disregard “Old 600″ signs) and in 7.6 miles turn left at intersection, staying on RT 600. From here, go 2/10 miles and the Konnarock community center is on the left.
Grindstone Campground (GPS: 36.68694, -81.54111) From I-81, take exit 35 (Chilhowie), go south on RT 762, passing Hardee’s. Follow this for 3.6 miles to the flashing light at intersection. Keeping straight, the road becomes RT 600, crossing Iron Mountain (disregard “Old 600″ signs) and in 7.4 miles turn left on to Laurel Valley Road. Travel 4.3 miles and the campground entrance will be on your right.
Consider Supporting the Rally
The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally is a grand tradition that dates back to 1974. Over the years it has gone through many changes but the root goal has stayed the same: to connect our community to one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth. If you would like to see this tradition continue for the next generation, please consider making a donation to support the Rally.
All of our field trip leaders volunteer their time for the Naturalist Rally, so let them know you appreciate them sharing their time and knowledge with us!!
The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally has adopted the Leave No Trace Principles as a guiding reference for participant and guide etiquette. Please refer to their 7 Principles for more information.
The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally has a long history, all the way back to 1974! Check out these historical brochures!