Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area

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My husband and I visited Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area yesterday – taking advantage of the dry fall day before a few days of forecasted rain. It’s located less than 45 minutes from our house and I’ve had it on my list of places to visit since I was in Master Naturalist training a few years ago; I’m a little surprised that we haven’t found the time before now.

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The visitor center is open on Saturdays and sporadically on other days. We got there shortly after 11 and there was already quite a lot of activity. We got a map and headed out to hike. Rather than hiking from the visitor center, we drove a short distance to an overlook that doubles as parking from some of the trails. The overlook shows the area back toward the visitor center.

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The loop trail we took started across the road – following red blazes then orange and rejoining the red to get back to the overlook. It past some remains of one of the mines – fenced off to prevent accidents.

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There were leaves beginning to fall. Some of the oaks had a very large crop of acorns this year judging by the piles on the path. My favorite leaf was a red sassafras. There were some areas of invasive plants but not as many as places that have richer soils. There were swaths of ferns in a few areas. We walked down to a little stream. The water runs over bedrock in most places.

The critter-find for the hike as a fuzzy yellow caterpillar with some black tufts. I looked it up after I got home – an American Dagger Moth Caterpillar. It eats oak leaves – among other things.

More than half the path was over rocky areas; Soldiers Delight is – after all – a serpentine barren.