March 21, 2015.
Do note that the Shavers Fork Preserve is a place that you have to get approval to visit; it’s a Nature Conservancy Preserve that’s off of Forest Road 235.
Since Gaudineer Knob was still covered in snow, we went (with permission) to the Upper Shavers Fork Preserve to hike the trails. We had been once before for work purposes, so we had explored the trail system to some extent. You begin by crossing the river via swinging bridge. The trail splits in 2 directions, so we went left. The right trail sort of ends in a boggy area. The trail winds through tall rhododendron that form a perfect arch over the trail. Several vernal pools exist around the trail, but the trail itself stays dry. The trail winds through a nice hemlock stand before winding down to the river. We followed the river for a ways until we came upon a snow-covered, marshy area dotted with skunk cabbage, which melts snow as it emerges in the spring.
When we had finished the trails on the preserve, we decided to head to Barton Knob. You can read how to get to the Knob here. We hiked the fire tower road, which is a relatively steep grade, to the large bolder perched at the top of the last clear spot. Here’s a panorama of the view from the boulder on Barton Knob. The boulder itself is relatively easy to climb on, with a few smaller boulders sitting behind it to help you up to the top. It’s wide enough for several people to sit and enjoy the view. Enough room for several people AND this super rad superhero duck that we found on the hike up.