June 4, 2011.
BRDC joined forces with Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club for a hike on Saturday, June 4, National Trails Day. Eleven hikers and guides enjoyed the sunny 5-mile, round-trip, hike from Massie Gap at Grayson Highlands to Rhododendron Gap, where many trails meet and the rhododendron show is the best in our region. The Catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense) were just reaching peak, with pink waves spreading over distant views. We also saw different hues of flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) lighting the hillsides. The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) was just beginning to open at the higher elevations.
Thanks to Michelle, we identified a new shrub that we had been seeing but confusing with the blueberries: Alleghany menziesia or minnie bush (Menziesia pilosa). The flowers are similar to the blueberry, but the leaves are more like azelea.
All photos by Carol Broderson except for the header image of flame azalea.