A Family Adventure

in the mountains, ocean, and air

Apple Orchard Falls

April 28, 2022
Emilie Phillips

We saw an amazing diversity of things on our hike down to Apple Orchard Falls. I saw all the spring ephemerals I used to look for every spring on the Blue Ridge. My mom knew the most plants, but each of us contributed. And we saw a few interesting non-vegetative things.

Dutchman’s Breeches

The flowers

  • Trillium
  • Dutchman’s breeches
  • Wild geranium
  • Star chickweed
  • Lady slipper
  • Bleeding heart
  • Fly poison
  • Wood betony
  • Bellwort
  • Violets
  • Squaw root
  • Salomon seal
  • False salomon seal
Isaac and the chestnut burr

Other plants

  • American (false) hellebore
  • May apple
  • Chestnut burr from last year (Isaac carried one back to the car with the occasional “ow!” exclamation.)
  • Rattlesnake plantain
Finding bolts and anchors


  • Many small cascades and the long Apple Orchard Falls
  • Cliff with bolts and anchors for rock climbing
  • A small cave
  • Bridges
  • Stairs
  • View across the Shenandoah Valley
  • Hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail
Where is Mama bear?


  • Garter snake
  • Skink
  • Common watersnake
  • Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Various shiny beetles
  • Bear cub

All Photos

A Bear?

As I hear the story, the front of our group was walking by a log when the bear cub popped out from underneath. I was a hundred yards behind photographing may apples. Tyson thought “another snake, no. A woodchuck? no.” Trudy first thought it was a raccoon. And my Dad started with mink. It took them all a good moment to realize it was the utterly improbable — a curious, and maybe a little hungry bear cub. Where was mama bear? And how long until she came growling to her cub’s defense? Tyson took a quick photo before hurrying away. Isaac shared the bear cub’s curiosity and fearlessness. He paused to watch it. As noted before, I was so far back I had to walk towards the cub before I could pass it. I was so busy looking over my shoulder for an angry mama bear that I barely looked at the cub. The cub snuffled at me as I went past.

Mama bear never showed up. Hopefully, she was just out of earshot upwind and came back later to take care of the cub. But we are glad she wasn’t there when we were.

GPS Track