Lake Lurleen

A First Visit to Alabama’s Lake Lurleen State Park: Moist Lower Slope Forest

I admit to an addiction to Alabama’s 21 State Parks. I added Lake Lurleen State Park to my checked-off list October 15, 2020, hiking the four-mile Ridge Loop Trail with Park Manager Dee White. Encompassing 1,625 acres, the Park is about nine miles northwest of Tuscaloosa, home to the Crimson Tide.   The 250-acre man-made […]

Big Cove Creek

A Few Fungal Highlights from an Early Fall Trek through a River Terrace Forest

As a forestry undergraduate I took courses with titles like Plant Pathology and Eastern US Forest Diseases, studying economically important tree diseases like chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease, beech-scale-nectria, white pine blister rust, fusiform rust, and oak wilt. I learned fungi as disease agents and causes of decay and wood deterioration reducing the commercial value […]

A Suburban Trail within Sight of an Interstate Highway North of Pittsburgh, PA

Wildness is wherever you seek it, whether deep in the Appalachian forests… or hidden in plain sight within a suburban park. Steve Jones   September 24, 2020, I hiked Brush Creek Trail in southern Butler County Pennsylvania, 20-miles north of Pittsburgh and within two miles of our son’s home in Cranberry Township. The linear Graham […]

Rocky Gap

The Intersection of Human and Natural History: A 1766 Survey Marker above Rocky Gap State Park

I’ve already published two Posts from my September 2020 hike at Maryland’s Rocky Gap State Park, one offering photos and reflections on the trees and woody plants I encountered en route to the summit of Evitts Mountain, and the second on early fall flowers, fungi, and ferns: A Tough Hike and Deep Reward at Rocky […]

Rocky Gap

September 2020 Rocky Gap State Park: Central Appalachian Fall Flowers, Ferns, and Fungi

September 26, 2020, I hiked the Rocky Gap State Park (ten miles east of my boyhood home in Cumberland, Maryland) Summit Trail, trekking from Lake Habeeb (1,150 feet elevation) to the summit of Evitts Mountain (2,296 feet) and return. See my earlier Post highlighting the forests and tree species I encountered and reflecting upon the […]

A Tough Hike and Deep Reward at Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland

I grew up in Cumberland, MD, nearly 150 miles west of the Baltimore/DC area. Located along the Potomac River deep in the Central Appalachians, Cumberland served as a transportation hub (roads; rails, and canal) and industrial center for many decades.   I issued a Post in November 2019 after returning to Cumberland for my 50th […]

Jolly B

Mid-Summer Life-Flourish along a Wheeler NWR Gravel Road

August 18, 2020, Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I focused our Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge explorations interior to the Blackwell Swamp loop road on the Refuge’s eastern extension. See two previous Posts from our wanderings in both a pine terrace forest ( and through a bottomland hardwood ecosystem ( Even as our […]

Cathedral Caverns

Wonder Below Ground: Cathedral Caverns State Park

July 10, 2020, Judy and I took our two Alabama grandsons (Jack, 12, and Sam, 6) to Cathedral Caverns State Park. No hiking the forest trails for this State Park visit. There are trails there that I’ll save for a subsequent trip.   I won’t devote a lot of text to this Post. The Caverns […]

Monte Sano SP

Four-Year Tornado Forest Recovery at Monte Sano State Park

November 29, 2016, a weak tornado (EF-0; winds 40-72 mph or EF-1; 73-112 mph) touched down briefly at the northern bluff-edge of Monte Sano State Park’s North Plateau Trail. I hiked the trail circuit August 27, 2020 to assess forest healing and recovery after nearly four full growing seasons since the November storm. I include […]

Jolly B

Hardwood Forest on Seasonally Flooded Lowlands along Lake Wheeler on the WNW Refuge

August 18, 2020 Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I drove the Blackwell Swamp Loop Road at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. We occasionally parked, spending hours on foot exploring a vibrant bottomland hardwood forest within the loop road on lowlands seasonally flooded. Earlier that morning we spent a like amount of time in […]

Jolly B

Pine Forest on a Rich Terrace above Lake Wheeler on the WNW Refuge

We’re now into the second week of September. Continuing to enjoy our early morning walks, Judy and I are aware that dawn now breaks as we complete our circuit. And we’ve noticed near silence from our avian friends who chattered and clamored in greeting spring and early summer dawns. I’m reminded of Aldo Leopold’s observation […]

Jolly B

An Aging Tennessee River Riparian Forest

August 8, 2020 I bushwhacked (Webster definition: to travel by foot through uncleared terrain) through a Tennessee River riparian forest on the eastern end of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge north of the river in Limestone County Alabama. I restricted my wanderings to off-trail, insisting that my ramblings keep me within the closed-canopy forest. I wanted […]