Bay Journal

Leslie Middleton

Paddle through past landscapes along remote Cat Point Creek

Early morning light beckoned me upstream into the green, marshy world of Cat Point Creek, a tributary of Virginia’s Rappahannock River.

I paddled the creek’s narrow path through pastures of arrow arum, past tight fists of yellow pond lilies that had begun their spring unfurling. Blue flag irises were emerging from ferns that had found a toehold in boggy soil amongst the roots of a...

Hole lot of fun: Natural swimming pools in the Blue Ridge

Many strategies for dealing with mid-Atlantic summer heat involve cool water: outdoor pools, ocean waves or slow-flowing rivers.

But there’s nothing quite like plunging into a boulder-strewn, tree-lined swimming hole for that special respite that only a mountain stream can provide — and the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia have plenty of offerings.

...

Tiptoe through the trilliums at Thompson WMA

It was late spring last year when I got the tip: For a spectacular showcase of wildflowers, head to the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Fauquier County, VA.

And so I did, hoping to glimpse the blooms that make this tract of land a prime springtime destination for native plant lovers.

Pleasant Grove Park a connection to nature, the past

In the small central Virginia county of Fluvanna, a triangle of historic farm and forest is wedged between the Rivanna River and Virginia Highway 53, just 20 miles southeast of Charlottesville.

At the western end stands a three-story story brick house, built in 1854 by Col. William Haden where he raised 12 children and managed a plantation of approximately 3,000 acres. In those...

Montpelier’s ‘Landmark Forest’ rooted in history

Horticulturist Sandy Mudrinich paused at the edge of the forest that rises behind Montpelier, the historic home of President James Madison, nestled in Orange, VA.

Before leading a group of visitors farther up the hill, Mudrinich invited them to look across the valley of pastures and forests spreading west for 30 miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“This is pretty much what Madison...

Gorge-ous! Goshen Pass offers scenery, solitude

In the annals of Virginia whitewater paddling, the Maury River at Goshen Pass has earned a reputation. The five-mile stretch of river, a tributary to the James River in mountainous western Virginia, can be a bruising paddle even if you’re very skilled and very lucky. In high water, it can be downright foolhardy. 

Experienced and knowledgeable paddlers nevertheless flock to Goshen...

Explore lesser-known preserves on Virginia’s Northern Neck

An easy 10-minute hike through towering oak and hickory brought me to an observation deck 25 feet above Bush Mill Stream on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Below, the stream meandered through straw-colored cordgrass, fringing dark mudflats that sparkled with ice from the receding tide.

Cumberland Marsh beckons birds and birders alike

Fall migration is an excellent time to spot a wide variety of birds, and identifying a few birding hotspots can help fledgling birders — as well as experienced ones — know where to go. During fall and well into winter, bird watching groups in the Chesapeake region often flock to Cumberland Marsh Natural Area, about 35 minutes east of Richmond by car.

The 1,100-acre preserve,...

Lower Chickahominy’s fish, wildlife lure visitors

The broad marshes along the wooded banks of the Chickahominy River in Virginia still evoke the landscape that English explorer Capt. John Smith first saw when he visited this area in 1607.

And it is the same mix of forest, river and marsh that made my paddle down Morris Creek — a tributary of the Chickahominy — so compelling on an early spring morning.

I launched my kayak...

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About Leslie Middleton

Leslie Middleton's avatar

Leslie Middleton writes about water quality, public access, and the special places of the Chesapeake Bay region from her home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

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