Hiking South Dickey Ridge Trail & Snead Farm Loop
This week we hiked along Dickey Ridge Trail from its southern end at Compton Gap parking lot up north to Snead Farm and looped back again. We took a bit of a shortcut back and did not go all the way to the Dickey Ridge Visitor’s Center, but instead looped back along a fire road trail that goes up Dickey Hill. The hike was 10.3 miles in total.
Snead Farm Loop has to be my all-time favorite wildflower trail in Shenandoah National Park. No matter what season you visit, there is a wide variety of wildflowers. Knowing this, I set off eagerly with my camera. I was pleasantly surprised to find some interesting flowers along Dickey Ridge as well.
Dickey Ridge Trail
The woods in this area were lovely, with a lush green forest floor and uniform trees. Along the way we met many trail runners. Dickey Ridge seems like a popular path for trail runners, perhaps because it is relatively flat underfoot with only a few short rocky areas.
Wildflowers on Dickey Ridge Trail
The southern end of Dickey Ridge Trail can be found a short way from Compton Gap parking lot. We saw Wild Basil, Spotted Touch-me-not, Whorled Loosestrife, and Fringed Loosestrife along Dickey Ridge.
Pale Touch-me-not, Jewelweed, or Impatiens pallida, belongs to the Touch-me-not family (Balsaminaceae) and blooms from June to October. They grow all along the east coast of North America and are less common than the similar Spotted Touch-me-not, which is orange. This flower favors wet woods and meadows.
From the parking lot to the start of Dickey Ridge Trail were many bushes of Pale Touch-me-nots.
Wildflowers on Snead Farm Loop
Snead Farm Loop was a treasure trove of wildflowers, just as I expected. Along the fire road there were so many different types of wildflowers. I’ll share a few of my favorites.
Downy False Foxglove
Downy False Foxglove, or Aureolaria virginica, belongs to the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and blooms from June to August. It favors dry open woods and can be found all along the east coast of North America.
We saw this flower along Dickey Ridge Close to the turnoff to Snead Farm loop prior to reaching Dickey Hill.
Bladder Campion, or Silene vulgaris, belongs to the Carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) and blooms from April to August. It can be found throughout North America and was originally introduced from Europe. This flower favors fields and roadsides.
Bouncing Bet, Soapwort, or Saponaria officinalis, is a member of the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae) and blooms from June to September. Introduced from Europe, it can be found throughout North America. This flower favors roadsides and disturbed areas.
Soapwort’s crushed foliage can create a soapy froth when agitated in water because the plant contains saponin. “Bouncing Bet” is an old-fashioned nickname for a washerwoman.
Bouncing Bet can be white or pink.
There were a lot of these along the fire road around Snead Farm.
Scarlet Pimpernel, Poor Man’s Weatherglass, or Anagallis arvensis, is a member of the Primrose family (Primulaceae) and blooms June to August. Naturalized from Europe, it grows around much of North America. This little beauty favors sandy soil and roadsides.
We found quite a few of these along the fire road leading up to Dickey Hill.
Sweet Pea, also known as Perennial Pea, Everlasting Pea, or Lathyrus latifolius, is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae) and blooms from June to September. Native to southern Europe, they now grow throughout the United States. These pretty flowers favor dry soil and full sun.
We also found this one on the fire road leading up to Dickey Hill.
At the top of Dickey Hill is a wide meadow with all sorts of wildflowers.
Rough-fruited Cinquefoil, Sulfur Cinquefoil, or Potentilla recta, is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) and blooms May to August.
This plant favors roadsides, dry fields, and waste places.
We saw these both on the Dickey Hill fire road and up in the meadow.
Native to the eastern Meditteranean, it was introduced to Canada in the 19th century and now grows throughout most of North America.
Although it is considered to be a weed, I can’t help enjoying these lovely pale yellow wildflowers.
Other wildflowers in the meadow included Common Mullein, Hop Clover, and Rabbit-foot Clover.
The View from Dickey Hill
Down the hill from the meadow is this gorgeous view of Shenandoah Valley. We were lucky – the visibility that day was amazing. It’s a great place to stop to rest and eat some lunch.
The mountains you can see in the distance are part of George Washington National Forest.
The Return Trail
By this time it was getting late and we needed to start heading back. The hike back was a bit tough due to a mix of the summer heat and the long uphill, but quite enjoyable all the same.
Recommended as a Wildflower Hike
To conclude, hiking South Dickey Ridge Trail and around Snead Farm loop provides both great exercise and wonderful opportunities for taking pictures of wildflowers, particularly at Snead Farm.