Thunder Ridge Wilderness

Last updated
Thunder Ridge Wilderness
Looking over Arnold Valley from Thunder Ridge.jpg
Looking over Arnold Valley from Thunder Ridge
USA Virginia relief location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Bedford, Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States
Nearest city Buena Vista, Virginia
Coordinates 37°33′15″N79°28′25″W / 37.55417°N 79.47368°W / 37.55417; -79.47368 Coordinates: 37°33′15″N79°28′25″W / 37.55417°N 79.47368°W / 37.55417; -79.47368
Area2,344 acres (949 ha)
Established1984
Administrator U.S. Forest Service

The Thunder Ridge Wilderness is a 2,344 acres (949 ha) area located near Natural Bridge, Virginia, which is protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness. [1]

Contents

Dominated by Thunder Ridge with steep slopes towering above Arnold Valley, the interior is incredibly rugged, remote and rarely visited. The top of the ridge contains flowers blooming late into summer, long past blooms in the hot valley below. Trillium, may apple, pink lady slipper, Indian cucumber root and columbine flourish in the shade of black cherry trees, northern red oak and hickories. [2]

The area is part of the Glenwood Cluster .

Location and access

Thunder Ridge Wilderness is located in the Jefferson National Forest several miles from Natural Bridge Station, Virginia. It is just south of the James River Face Wilderness, bounded on the northeast by Forest Service Road 35, on the south by the Blue Ridge Parkway and on the northwest by a line approximately parallel to the parkway and offset by about a mile. [3]

There are three trails into the wilderness: [3]

There are several overlooks of the wilderness from parking areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Natural history

May Apple in the Thunder Ridge Wilderness, Virginia May Apple, Thunder Ridge Wilderness.jpg
May Apple in the Thunder Ridge Wilderness, Virginia

With very different environments, the area sustains a great variety of trees found in a diversity of habitats. Coves support tulip poplar, oak and hemlock, some very large; the crest of Apple Orchard Mountain has a mix of hardwoods such as red and white oak as well as common persimmon, red spruce and hemlock; and the harsh environment of the dry western slopes support pitch pine, Virginia pine and chestnut oak. [6]

Red Eft Red Eft, Thunder Ridge Wilderness.jpg
Red Eft

The moist forests provide good habitat for salamanders. The world’s greatest diversity of salamanders is found in the southeastern United States. More than 55 species are located in Virginia, with over 15 in the Thunder Ridge wilderness or adjacent public and private lands. [2]

Topography

Sulphur Spring Sulphur Spring, Thunder Ridge Wilderness.jpg
Sulphur Spring

The area is dominated by Thunder Ridge with steep slopes on the northern side, and elevations ranging from 1320 feet in the lowlands of the northwest to 4200 feet on Apple Orchard Mountain. [8]

The peaks are part of the Pedlar Formation, composed of igneous granite and metamorphic gneiss with a mineral content which weathers to give a soil supporting a lush growth of plants. The area has the tallest trees and the finest groups of laurel and rhododendron in the region. [4] :136 [9]

Cultural history

Just south of the wilderness area on Apple Orchard Mountain, Apple Orchard Camp offered overnight accommodations in the early 1900s. In 1924 the camp became Camp Kewanzee, a summer camp for boys and girls. During the Cold War a nearby area was developed as a radar-based tracking station, and in the 1960s a large computer complex was built to process data for transmission to Fort Lee, Virginia. The military base was closed in 1975 leaving a single radar dome and other facilities. The dome, a prominent feature on the tallest mountain along the parkway in Virginia, can be seen from a long distance. [2] [4]

In 1928 during a violent storm, a balloon, participating in an international balloon race, crashed in the night onto Thunder Hill. Major injuries were sustained, especially during the climb down the mountain. [4] :138 [10]

Nearby Wildlands

Nearby wilderness areas and wildlands recognized as one of Virginia's "Mountain Treasures" by the Wilderness Society are: [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

Mountain Lake Wilderness

Mountain Lake Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness Area in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The wilderness area is located next to privately owned Mountain Lake, and consists of 8,314 acres (3,365 ha) in Virginia and 2,721 acres (1,101 ha) in West Virginia.

Humpback Rock is a massive greenstone outcropping near the peak of Humpback Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Augusta County and Nelson County, Virginia, United States, with a summit elevation of 3,080 feet (940 m). The rock formation is so named for the visual effect of a "hump" it creates on the western face of the mountain.

Natural Bridge Station, Virginia Unincorporated community in Virginia, United States

Natural Bridge Station is an unincorporated community in Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States, named for both its proximity to Natural Bridge and formerly having a train depot along the Norfolk & Western rail line. Formerly known as Greenlee, and prior to that, Sherwood, it was the home of former Washington State Senator and United States Ambassador to Peru, Miles Poindexter. Natural Bridge Station is located along the James River and Virginia State Route 130, 3.2 miles (5.1 km) west of Glasgow. Natural Bridge Station is made up mostly of the southeastern corner of Rockbridge County encompassing all of the community of Arnolds Valley and partially covering several other communities, with its southeastern border running along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Natural Bridge Station has a post office with ZIP code 24579. The current population is 1,540.

Barbours Creek Wilderness

Barbours Creek Wilderness is a U.S. wilderness area in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of George Washington and Jefferson National Forests of western Virginia, United States. The wilderness area was established in 1988 and consists of 5,382 acres (2,178 ha) of forests in the Appalachian Mountains ranging in elevation from 1,700 to 3,800 feet.

Garden Mountain Wilderness

Garden Mountain Wilderness is a U.S. wilderness area in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It is a small wilderness area in western Virginia, consisting of an area of 3,331 acres (13.48 km2) and bordering the Beartown and Hunting Camp Creek Wilderness. It was designated as wilderness area in 2009 by Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The wilderness area also borders a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Brush Mountain East Wilderness

Brush Mountain East Wilderness is a U.S. wilderness area in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It was designated as wilderness area in 2009 by Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

Peters Mountain Wilderness

The Peters Mountain Wilderness is an area protected by act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the wilderness system. it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

James River Face Wilderness

The James River Face Wilderness is an 8,907-acre area located near Natural Bridge, Virginia that is protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Shawvers Run Wilderness

The Shawvers Run Wilderness, a 5784-acre area located less than one mile south of Potts Creek, Virginia, is protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Kimberling Creek Wilderness

The Kimberling Creek Wilderness is an area protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. It is managed as part of the Jefferson National Forest. As part of the wilderness system, it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Hunting Camp Creek Wilderness 9707521351

The Hunting Camp Creek Wilderness is an area protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the wilderness system, it helps to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contributes to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Lynn Camp Creek Wilderness Study Area

The Lynn Camp Creek Wilderness Study Area, a 3226-acre site in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, was designated a wilderness study area by the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009.

Raccoon Branch Wilderness

The Raccoon Branch Wilderness is an area in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the wilderness system, it is intended to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contribute to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Little Wilson Creek Wilderness

The Little Wilson Creek Wilderness is an area in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the wilderness system, it is intended to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contribute to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

Lewis Fork Wilderness

The Lewis Fork Wilderness is an area in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area protected by the Eastern Wilderness Act of Congress to maintain its present, natural condition. As part of the wilderness system, it is intended to preserve a variety of natural life forms and contribute to a diversity of plant and animal gene pools. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness.

White Oak Ridge-Terrapin Mountain

White Oak Ridge-Terrapin Mountain is a wildland in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests of western Virginia that has been recognized by the Wilderness Society as a special place worthy of protection from logging and road construction. With over 1200 acres of possible old growth forest, this is a rugged area with a rich diversity of geology and plant life.

North Creek (conservation area)

North Creek is a wildland in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests of western Virginia that has been recognized by the Wilderness Society as a special place worthy of protection from logging and road construction. Tall evergreen and hardwood trees in the area around Apple Orchard Falls tower above ferns and wildflowers. The area includes a valley which extends from Sunset Fields in the east to its western border near the North Creek Camping Area.

James River Face Wilderness Addition

James River Face Wilderness Addition is a wildland in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests of western Virginia that has been recognized by the Wilderness Society as a special place worthy of protection from logging and road construction. Adjacent to the James River Face Wilderness, it extends the wildland opportunities of the wilderness on the east to the Jefferson National Forest boundary. The area, managed for bear, has hardwood forests with ages between 60 and almost 100 years.

Cove Mountain (conservation area)

Cove Mountain is a wildland in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests of western Virginia that has been recognized by the Wilderness Society as a special place worthy of protection from logging and road construction.

Glenwood Cluster

The Glenwood Cluster is a region in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests recognized by The Wilderness Society for its rich biodiversity, scenery, wildflower displays, cold-water trout streams and horse trails. It offers a unique habitat for rare plants, salamanders and other rare species. The Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail traverse the area, giving ready access with views to the east of the Piedmont region and to the west of the Valley of Virginia.

References

  1. "Why Wilderness?" . Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Bamford, Sherman (October 2014). 18 Wonders of Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. ISBN   978-0-926487-79-6.
  3. 1 2 Lexington, Blue Ridge Mts [George Washington and Jefferson National Forests]: Lexington, Blue Ridge Mts [George Washington and Jefferson National Forests], accessdate: March 12, 2017
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Appalachian Trail Guide, Central Virginia (3rd ed.). Harpersville, West Virginia: Appalachian Trail Conference. 2014. pp. 132–143. ISBN   978-1-889386-88-1.
  5. Virginia | AllTrails.com: Hunting Creek Trail - Virginia | AllTrails.com, accessdate: March 5, 2017
  6. 1 2 Steven Carroll and Mark Miller (1995). Wilderness Virginia. Lexington, Virginia: Old Forge Productions. p. 145. ISBN   0-9646692-1-8.
  7. 1 2 Thunder Ridge Parking Area (elev. 3845), Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 74.7: Thunder Ridge Parking Area (elev. 3845), Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 74.7, accessdate: March 5, 2017
  8. General Information: Wilderness.net - Thunder Ridge Wilderness - General Information, accessdate: March 5, 2017
  9. Geology of the Blue Ridge in Virginia: Geology of the Blue Ridge in Virginia, accessdate: March 5, 2017
  10. Detroit (USA) 1928: 17th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett - Detroit (USA) 1928, accessdate: March 5, 2017
  11. Virginia's Mountain Treasures, report issued by The Wilderness Society, May, 1999