The North River Gorge is an absolutely beautiful corner of the George Washington National Forest. Starting at Wild Oak Parking Lot near Stokesville, we hiked a mile on the Wild Oak Trail to the swinging bridge across the North River where the 4 1/2-mile North River Gorge Trail begins. Activities that take place along this trail include: hiking, horseback riding, and camping. From the green leaves of summer, to the colorful fall foliage, the North River Gorge is breathtaking during all seasons.
The river is eligible to be designated as a National Scenic River and is part of the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Proposal, which covers 90,000 acres of the Shenandoah Mountain. We partnered with Friends of Shenandoah Mountain to work towards the goal of preserving the North River Gorge. (http://www.friendsofshenandoahmountain.org)
As we were hiking, we came across many different fall colors and various species of ferns growing in the forest. In late September, the forest is lush with greenery and some plants are even starting to change colors! When we returned in mid-October, a rainbow of foliage greeted us, and we were delighted!
The Spotted Orbweaver Spider is considered a toxic spider, although the venom is not strong enough to be harmful to humans. These spiders can range greatly in color and size, though most are an orange and brown color. They have a distinct "orb"-like body and the shape of a cross on its belly. Orbweavers usually mate in the fall and the female usually attaches the eggs to the underside of a leaf. Both sexes will die shortly after mating, which explains why we found this exoskeleton of the orb weaver. (http://animals.mom.me/orb-weaver-spiders-4266.html)
The Spring Peeper Frog enjoys living in wooded wetlands of eastern Canada and the United States. It's no wonder we found this guy in the George Washington National Forest on our way to the river! Though normally spring peepers are found on warm spring nights (as their name implies), these frogs can actually survive being frozen! This frog can produce its own "antifreeze", which protects the vital organs as 70% of the frog's body freezes. Once the body thaws, the frog goes through a period of healing and then gets on its way! (http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2016/03/21/facts-about-spring-peepers/)