Exploring Nature Inside Pocahontas State Park

It’s mid May and I was in the middle of a nice single track trail run.  As I was rounding a switch back, I noticed the most beautiful tree, showing off all its glory with a stunning display of white flowers.  I took a mental picture and kept on going.  After the run, I decided that I should take my wife and daughter on a day hike to this exact tree.

It was one of the most beautiful days.  It was in the mid 70’s and the sun was peeking through the clouds.  We decided as a family that we would hit the park in search of the “white flowering tree”.  We got all dressed up in our hiking gear.  Our daughter of course chose purple pants, purple shirt and her purple Keens.

As we were walking along, dodging incoming mountain bikers and people running with dogs, we stumbled across some unique things that mother nature had created.

Unidentified Wild Mushroom

We are not sure what this is, but we only saw one along the trail.  I’m guessing its a mushroom of sorts.  It was bright orange as you can see and quite beautiful!

Unidentified Critter

Just a bit further up the trail we came across a massive black widow spider and her web.  Next to it, but not caught in the web, is another unidentified forest thingy.  We were having fun finding these cool critters and whatnots, and we havent even gotten to the white flowering tree.

Mountain Laurels not in the Mountains

And there she was!  The tree I had seen was not even a tree, but a simple Mountain Laurel displaying the most beautiful cluster of white I had ever seen in the wild.  What a site.  Throughout the hike we had noticed some off in the woods, but never stopped to examine them.  I wanted to show my wife and daughter the exact tree.  I am glad we did.  It was trail side and easily photographed.  After a few photos, we headed back.  We had no idea what was going to be in store for us next.

Actias luna, commonly known as the Luna Moth

My wife found this one.  It was the only one we saw.  The Luna Moth only lives for 7 days, so we felt very fortunate to see one.

Unidentified Wild Flower

Unidentified Wild Flower

Again, my wife found this.  We think it is some kind of wild orchid.  After some thorough research, we came up with nothing.  We have no idea what it is, but it was absolutely stunning.  Again, the only one we saw that day.

Tree Frog

This photo of the frog doesn’t do the little guy justice.  He was much more colorful than he looks.  Again, the only one we saw the whole hike.

On the final stretch we walked through a forest of ferns and wild blueberry bushes.  A simple hike though Pocahontas State Park brought us much more than a white flowering tree.  It brought us a family memory and instilled the beauty of nature into my 4 year old daughter.  It encouraged her to open her eyes and see that there is much more to nature than brown leaves, dirt, rocks and mud puddles.  There are endless adventures out there.

So I encourage you to take your kids, no matter the age, out into the wild.  May it be your own back yard, or deep into a national park or forest, just take them and explore.  Leave what you find and only take photos.  We even cleaned up the trail as we hiked along, picking up sticks and small trash.  Take care of our planet and enjoy its wonderful display.

NOTE:  If you have any insight on some of the unidentified plants and or critters, please post a comment about what you may think or know about them.  Thanks for reading and enjoy your next outdoor adventure.

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