Sponsoring Organization: Maryland Native Plant Society Catoctin Chapter
The trees have begun to turn color on Catoctin Mountain, giving beginners an ideal opportunity to practice basic tree ID using fall color as well as bark and branching patterns.
Leader: Louisa Thompson
Fee to enter Park: Day use fee $3.00 per MD vehicle, $5.00 per out of state vehicle, half price for veterans and for seniors with Golden Age pass.
Notes: The Manor area lies at the foot of the mountain, where several geologic formations meet. The soils derived from these rock formations vary in their ability to meet the needs of plant species, so we will be able to trace changes in plant diversity as we move from steep slopes to floodplains and terraces, from quartz-dominant formations to those with more clay or significant amounts of greenstone, from more water-retentive soils to those that hold little water, and of course from sun to shade.
Depending on participants' interest, we may spend more time on tree ID (several different field guides will be available), on geology and soils, or on our new demonstration trail where we have been removing invasives to allow newly-planted native trees to flourish.
Precautions: The first (short) part of the walk is down a very steep and rocky trail (could be skipped if you're willing to wait a few minutes). There is also a long staircase up to and then down from the footbridge over US 15. The rest of the walk is on floodplain and terrace trails, rocky but otherwise easy.
Timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are always a possibility in the Blue Ridge, though we have not encountered any here. Poison ivy is common next to the trails and may have lost its identifying leaves. Sturdy shoes, socks, and tick protection are strongly recommended.
Recommended introductory tree ID guide: Fall Color and Woodland Harvests, by C. Ritchie Bell with [excellent] color photographs by Anne H. Lindsay. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007 (paperback; $15.66 new on Amazon). This and other guides (emphasizing bark and branching patterns) will be available for participants to try out during the walk.
Cancellation Policy: Cancelled in case of heavy rain (may be rescheduled). If light showers are predicted or if wet leaves are present, we will skip the steep Catoctin Blue Trail portion of the walk. Call if uncertain.
Directions: Meeting place, directions, and handouts will be sent to registrants.
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