Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shenandoah National Park Hosts Wildflower Weekend

Conservation of native flowers and plants will be the focus of Shenandoah National Park's 27th annual Wildflower Weekend. This year event takes place on the weekend of May 4-5. Visitors may see woodland beauties such as trillium, wild geranium, jack-in-the-pulpit, and a variety of others on naturalist-led hikes.

Trails included this year are Millers Head, Mill Prong, Appalachian, Stony Man, Franklin Cliffs, and Little Stony Man Cliffs. There will also be a bird walk and a "Wildflower Identification for Beginners" walk.

Special illustrated programs will be offered at Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 on Skyline Drive). "Rare Plants of Shenandoah National Park" and "The New Flora of Virginia: What's in it for You?" will be presented by Chris Ludwig, chief biologist for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Division of Natural Heritage. Naturalists and professional photographers Ann and Rob Simpson will present "Wild About Shenandoah: From Wildflowers to Wildlife." They will also lead a hike on the Limberlost Trail, searching for flowers and offering photography tips.

New this year is an opportunity to actively help manage an exotic species by becoming a "Garlic Mustard Buster" on Saturday, May 4. Participants may sign up at the trailhead to accompany the park's volunteer coordinator on a morning or afternoon hike to help control this invasive plant. Gloves and plastic bags will be provided.

For program times and locations, see the complete Wildflower Weekend schedule on the park's website; pick up a schedule at park entrances the weekend of the event; or call the park at 540-999-3500, ext. 3283.

Programs are free, everyone is welcome, and no registration is required. There is a $15-per-vehicle entrance fee to the park, good for seven days.

Hiking in the Smokies

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