Nine nature-themed walks in Kanawha State Forest covering topics ranging from aquatic life to wildflowers will take place Saturday during the annual Margaret Denison Fall Nature Walks program.
The event, now in its 26th year, is named in honor of the former Kanawha County science teacher who, in cooperation with former Kanawha State Forest Superintendent Osbra Eye, identified and cataloged 710 species of flowering plants, 42 ferns and 138 grasses and sedges found within the 9,300 acre preserve.
Saturday’s activities, sponsored by the Kanawha State Forest Foundation, start with registration at the forest’s nature center and office building at the swimming pool area from 8:30 to 9 a.m., with walks beginning shortly after 9 a.m. and ending by noon. Cost is $5 for adults and $2 for those under 16.
After the walks, at 1 p.m., Three Rivers Avian Center will host a free presentation on West Virginia birds of prey, featuring an assortment of live raptors.
This year’s lineup of walks, all led by experienced Master Naturalists, includes:
Wildflowers — led by Jerry Westfall, Ted Jones and Jane Shepherd along easy to moderate terrain on the Snipe and Shrewsberry Hollow trails.
Nature for Kids and Parents — a hands-on exploration of the forest led by Kevin Cade to points of interest within a short distance from the swimming pool parking area. Walk provides tips for how parents can experience nature in positive ways with their children.
Trees and Wildflowers — A walk over moderately difficult terrain along the Polly Hollow Trail, led by Chris Gatens and Sara Miller.
Mushrooms — Led by Martha Hoppper through moderate terrain on Dunlop Hollow Trail.
Ferns — This new fall walk offering, led by John Northeimer and Laura Ceperley, starts at the group camping area near the park’s former swimming pool and follows Snipe Trail. A Power Point presentation on ferns is shown immediately before the walk to provide identification tips for hikers.
Geology — Another new fall walk offering, this one led by geologist Pete Sullivan, follows the Overlook Rock Tail over moderate to difficult terrain.
Aquatic life — This kid-friendly hike, led by Diana Green and Debby Mullins over easy terrain along Davis Creek, is open to all age groups and involves participants using nets to catch and identify small fish, crayfish, aquatic insects and other water-dwelling species.
Insects — Nets will also be in use on this easy hike in Dunlop Hollow, where insects will b captured and identified, and their importance to the forest and to the pollination of native plants will be explained by Laura Miller and John Moredock.
Early History of Kanawha State Forest — Carl McLaughlin will detail how the land that became Kanawha State Forest was previously used for logging and mining purposes, supporting several small communities. Walk takes place on wheelchair-accessible Spotted Salamander Trail.
For more information, call the state forest’s office at 304-558-3500.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5169, or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.