THE LOVELY and unique trout lilies at Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve as expected to begin blooming early next month.
The much anticipated 2021 bloom season at the Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve near Whigham will once again be opened to the public, but precautions are being made due to COVID-19, according to preserve officials.
Volunteers say that every effort is being made to protect preserve volunteers and all who choose to visit.
The official opening date is not yet set, but it is anticipated the public will be welcomed to view the blooms in early February.
COVID-19 precautions being put in place for the 2021 season include:
• Avoiding close contact (6-foot distance between visitors and others)
• Wearing a face mask (masks will be available)
• Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces (disinfectant will be available)
Officials say that guided tours will not be offered this season and the number of people on the trail will be restricted to limit the number of people inside the preserve at one time.
Each Dimpled Trout Lily flower opens in late morning or early afternoon, follows the sun, and closes at dusk, so to see the open flowers visitors are encouraged to go in the afternoon. If it is raining heavily or very dark and cloudy in the morning, the flowers may stay closed. Each individual flower re-opens for several days, with overall numbers of flowers in bloom beginning gradually, increasing, peaking, then declining over the course of a few weeks.
Depending on the winter weather, the overall bloom may be anywhere from three or four weeks long, usually throughout February, rarely into March.
Other spring ephemerals visitors may see include Spotted Trillium, Spring Coralroot, Southern Twayblade Orchid, Green Fly Orchid (blooms later), Bloodroot and Jack-In-the-Pulpit.
All trails are marked with a colored tape and signage is visible along all the trails.
The preserve’s Primary Trail highlights the best views of the trout lilies. It makes a loop down a slope, onto the lower trail, which carries visitors to a lovely view of Wolf Creek, then continues uphill to the upper trail or where visitors can exit out the driveway.
The Upper Trail offers overlook views, tiny twayblade orchids, bloodroot, and several other plants of interest.
There is an Orchid Loop, off the primary trail to the left as visitors go down slope, with two species of orchid plants, which are visible but may not be blooming. The trail does include other interesting habitats and plants not found on the main loop. The orchid loop ends at the bottom of the primary trail.
Visitors may walk on the South Trail below the parking area towards Trillium Creek. This is a fairly open area with some large patches of trillium and rain lilies (not blooming yet), but very few trout lilies. This trail is a great hike for those who arrive in the morning before the trout lilies open for the day.
The trout lilies grow on a slope, so visitors need to wear boots or shoes with treads that may get damp or muddy. Bring a walking stick if desired. The preserve offers Sparkleberrry walking sticks for visitor use or they can be purchased for a $10 donation. The trails may be slippery when wet, so proceed with caution.
There is minimal access for people using wheelchairs or with limited mobility who cannot complete a walk of several hundred yards on a slope. For those with minor limitations, the upper trail will provide a view.
There is a parking area inside the gate. Vehicles are not allowed on the property beyond the designated parking area.
The following are prohibited at Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve: cutting or removal of any plants, leaving trash, and pets on any trail other than service animals.
Visitors are asked to sign in with the volunteer greeters near the kiosk. Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve maintains laminated maps for use or visitors can download the AVENZA app. Instructions are posted on the preserve’s website for the app and a PDF of a brochure is available for printing.