Southern Red Oak
Chesapeake Nature Trail
Few things will take the bloom off a nature walk quicker than stepping in a pile of dog do-do. The Chesapeake Nature Trail, however, won't allow you to stay angry long. The day we walked the trail, the dog and all other hikers were gone. As we got farther from whines of trucks on state Route 3, the sounds of nature took over. We stepped back in time to when Indians stood along the edge of the Corrotoman River and the marshes.
Sun-dappled splashes of light drifted through the changing foliage of the trees. Birds called. Some of birds were probably warblers migrating through as they do each autumn. At one point, a hawk — possibly a red-shouldered — gave a shrill whistle as it circled high in the sky.
This 1.6-mile trail, also called the Corrotoman River Nature Trail, is a delight. It is owned and maintained by Chesapeake Forest Products Co. Lancaster County itself is largely agricultural and forest, except for the river, creeks and bays that tie it to the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal rivers.
The trail is soft pine needles and fallen leaves marked by indicators placed by Chesapeake Co. The trail offers a gentle walk through two worlds. Included are the upland forest of hardwoods (oak and hickory, for example) alongside the marshy world beside the Corrotoman River's edge. Early on, you stand on an observation deck and look across the beginnings of the Western Branch of the Corrotoman River, which flows into the Rappahannock River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. If you'd like to see a patch of the much-discussed wetlands on so many people's minds these days, as well as animals and birds that call wetlands home, this is a good place to do it.
There's evidence of old sawmill sites, as well as signs that a considerable variety of wildlife lives in the area. Wild turkeys, deer, squirrel, raccoons, opossums, snakes, skunks and a variety of birds are seen near the trail.
If you want a brochure on the nature trail, contact Eric Blake, Chesapeake Forest Products, 15th and Main streets, West Point 23181. Phone (804) 843-5402.
The hike takes about 1 1/2 hours and is gentle and pleasant with benches to rest on along the way. This is especially important for someone who is watching every step for further evidence a Saint Bernard has preceded him.
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