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Local hiking group delights in spring wildflowers

Johnson County Hikers pause for a photo at Alvarado Station before starting a hike last month in Damascus, Virginia. Participants enjoyed a variety of spring wildflowers along the Virginia Creeper Trail. The group welcomes new hikers of all ages and experience levels at no cost. Photo by Veronica Burniston.

By Veronica Burniston
Freelance Writer

Starting this year’s hiking season, the Johnson County Hikers ventured to the nearby Virginia Creeper Trail Wednesday, April 28. Active for over two decades, the Johnson County Hikers is a group of local individuals who simply love to hike and enjoy the wondrous nature of Appalachia.

The group is open to people of all ages and experience levels at no cost. It welcomes people new to the area who are interested in meeting locals as well as individuals seeking to learn more about nearby trails and wildflowers. Setting out from Alvarado Station Wednesday morning, the Johnson County Hikers discovered a variety of spring wildflowers along the Virginia Creeper Trail.

From purple and white larkspur gathered near the bridges to red columbine clinging to the rocks, the five mile hike offered plenty of wildflowers to stop and identify: Virginia spring beauties, geraniums, purple phacelia, dwarf crested irises, wild ginger, fire pink, jack in the pulpits, phlox, and so much more.Notably along several stretches of the trail, white trillium covered the mountainsides.

A famous “rail-to-recreation” trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail exhibited wonderful sights along the Holston River and provided a much needed opportunity for the group’s “winter legs” to remember the joy of exploring nature.

For the next scheduled hike, the Johnson County Hikers will be meeting Wednesday, May 12 to walk the Rich Mountain Carriage Trail in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. This six mile loop-trail follows an old carriage path which passes near Trout Lake and gradually climbs atop Rich Mountain.

Located right outside of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the Rich Mountain trail is part of the Moses Cone Memorial Park trail system. If interested in coming along for a hike, the Johnson County Hikers meet every other Wednesday through October on the 421 side of the Food Lion parking lot at 8:45 a.m. Be sure to bring water, lunch, and proper
hiking attire.

To view the group’s May through August hiking schedule, visit its Facebook page. For more information about the Johnson County Hikers and its upcoming hikes, contact Carol Camp at 727-5947.