On the lower reaches of the Hiawatha trail along the alluvial woodlands that stretch along the Banister River there is an extended path leading to local flora that is most interesting. Here one may find the Butternut (white walnut), Bladdernut, and a colony of the deciduous shrub known as Nestronia. You may pass closely by a rocky ledge harboring the Walkng-leaf Fern, and steep forested slopes above the fern site treat you to several shining leather-leaf plants or Heartleaf (little brown jugs).
This extended path, closely to the edge of the Banister River has rarely disappointed me as an amateur naturalist — almost every trip along this vegetative wonderland meets the expectations of a naturalist's quest. The Hiawatha Trail is just off VA 649 on the western side of the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Area just above the old Motley's Mill.
Also see this illustration in larger format.
Copyright © 2007 William T. Hathaway.