Hiking Tuscarora Overall Run & Beecher Ridge Loop
This week we went on a loop trail of 8.5 miles. Starting at the same parking lot as when we went on the Tuscarora Overall Run – Heiskell Hollow Trail Loop, we went the same way around – turning right onto Overall Run Trail, then left onto a connector, and then up Beecher Ridge Trail. We circled back down along Tuscarora Overall Run Trail.
Wildflowers on the Trail
Sweet Autumn Clematis
Sweet Autumn Clematis, Sweet Autumn Virginsbower, or Clematis terniflora, is a member of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and blooms July to September. It differs from the similar Clematis virginiana in that its leaves are smooth and group in bunches of five, as opposed to toothed and bunches of three. Introduced from Japan, this vine now grows throughout central and eastern North America and some places in western North America as well.
Sweet Autumn Clematis grows on borders of woods, as well as in thickets and moist places.
This plant was growing in several places along the road to Thompson Hollow Trail. The butterflies were enjoying the flowers.
Other wildflowers observed on the way to Thompson Hollow Trail include: Wild Potato Vine, Queen Anne’s Lace, Common Yarrow, Chicory, and Asiatic Dayflower.
Hoary Mountain Mint
Hoary Mountain Mint, or Pycnanthemum incanum, is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae) and blooms July to September in woods and thickets. It is native to eastern North America. Its fresh or dried leaves can be made into a mint-like tea. Hoary Mountain Mint also has medicinal properties – the leaves can also be made into a poultice for headaches. Like other plants of the Mint family, it can be used to treat colds, fevers, and digestive problems as well.
The small white to lavender flowers in rounded clusters are quite pretty. We found Hoary Mountain Mint growing near the swimming hole off Overall Run Trail, as well as in a couple other places along our loop.
Flowering Spurge, or Euphorbia corollata, is a member of the Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) and blooms June to October. Native to central and eastern North America, it can be found in dry open woods, fields, and roadsides. The name “spurge” comes from the Latin expurgare, “to purge.” This plant has been used as a laxative, but large doses can be poisonous.
Other wildflowers observed on the way to Beecher Ridge include: Lady’s Thumb, Appalachian Ironweed, and Creeping Bush Clover.
Continuing on the Trail
We ambled down Overall Run Trail and turned left onto the Beecher/Overall Connecting Trail. The connector goes on for 1.4 miles until you reach the Beecher Ridge trailhead. Beecher Ridge Trail itself is not that special. The Heiskell Hollow Trail loop option is far more interesting (but also 3 miles longer). Beecher Ridge is an ordinary forest with not many tall trees/open areas. Some sections of the trail are quite bushy. In comparison, Heiskell Hollow offers open forest scenery, hills going up and down, and some creek crossings.
Connecting to Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail via Mathews Arm Trail for 0.4 miles, we then hiked downhill. There are several waterfalls along the way, but they are relatively dry at this time of year. A rocky open area and outcrop overlooking the tallest waterfall is a popular place for people to gather. My husband and I, preferring not to sit with the crowd, kept walking for about 20 minutes and had lunch at a camp area that overlooks part of the valley. Unfortunately, you can’t see the waterfall from there, but it is a nice quiet place to relax.
More Wildflowers on the Trail
Creeping Bush Clover
Creeping Bush Clover, or Lespedeza repens, is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae) and blooms May to September. This creeping plant with trailing stems favors open woods, clearings, and thickets. It is native to North America and can be found all throughout the eastern and central U.S.
We saw this white and pink Creeping Bush Clover along Beecher Ridge. Apparently this wildflower comes in different colors – more common is the pink version, which I’ve seen often around Shenandoah National Park, and which I covered in my Jeremy’s Run post.
Smooth Small-leaf Ticktrefoil
Smooth Small-leaf Ticktrefoil, Maryland Tick-trefoil, or Desmodium marilandicum, is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae) and blooms mid-summer to mid-fall. Native to Eastern North America, Smooth Small-leaf Ticktrefoil attracts various pollinators such as butterflies and bees.
Hairy Leafcup, Bear’s Foot, Yellow Leafcup, Uvedalia, or Smallanthus uvedalius (previously Polymnia uvedalia) is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to September. Native to eastern and southeastern North America, it grows in lightly shaded to open woodlands, thickets, and fields. It is also an excellent nectar/pollen plant and is visited by many species of bees and wasps.
Chicory, or Chicorium intybus, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to October. Native to Europe, it now grows throughout North America. Most often you can see it in pastures and on roadsides.
The white Chicory is a rare variety of the common blue wildflower (see previous post).
Spotted Cucumber Beetle
The Spotted Cucumber Beetle, or Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi, is a major agricultural pest in North America. The spotted variety feeds on over 200 different types of crops.
I captured this photo of the beetle…doesn’t it look a bit like Darth Vader? I couldn’t see that in person – macro lenses really do show you a whole new world.
The Return Trail – Tuscarora Overall Run
Heading back along Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail and Thompson Hollow Trail was about the same as before. The hill is quite steep and rocky with pebbles that are easy to slip on, so you’ll want to be careful.
Recommended as a Hike
This Tuscarora-Overall Run & Beecher Ridge loop trail was a solid hike, and a more manageable distance than the loop with Heiskell Hollow Trail, but we enjoyed the latter more.
Here is our log, in which we stopped recording in several areas by accident. As a result, the mileage shown is shorter than the actual 8.5 miles for the hike.