From the parking area, pale-blue-blazed Undermountain Trail immediately passes a kiosk on the right with a posted map; trail maps are sometimes available here. The trail heads west and begins a gentle climb into a forest of red and white oaks, ash, and hickory, all shading clumps of witch hazel, mountain laurel, wild azalea, and striped maple. Evergreen Christmas fern shares the forest floor with mats of partridgeberry, sprigs of wintergreen, and isolated specimens of wild sarsaparilla and rose twisted stalk, a plant that favors the cool climates of mountain slopes from southern Canada south along the spine of the Appalachians. The foot-tall herbaceous stems grow in a pronounced zigzag pattern, with each zig and zag accented by a solitary deep-green leaf. From late spring through early summer, small deep-pink, bell-shaped pendant flowers appear along the stems.
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© Rene Laubach 7 Charles W. G. Smith /Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.