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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Natural Wonders: Freaky Bats, Dry Falls, Winter Witch Hazel

Washington, Arkansas, and Georgia are host to these three life-list phenomena treks.

by: Jayme Otto

Washington's Dry Falls (Chuck Haney)
Washington's Dry Falls (Chuck Haney)

GEORGIA'S WINTER WITCH HAZEL
Hike to an explosive flower.

The Wonder Witch hazel, used as an astringent, has pale yellow blossoms that flower in late fall. More gawk-worthy is the small tree's exploding fruit. The fuzzy brown pod contains two chambers, each protecting a glossy black seed with an edible white interior. Upon maturity, the chambers burst open with an explosive crack, ejecting the seeds up to 10 feet. The fruit and flowers appear at the same time, meaning you could get popped.

The Way Park at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, a gear shop in Neels Gap, to pick up the Appalachian Trail for a four-mile out-and-back to Blood Mountain. You'll gain 1,800 feet out of the valley. About halfway to the summit, you'll catch the overpowering scent of citrus, indicating a grove of 10-foot-high witch hazel trees lining the path. fs.fed.us/conf/rec/fow/20041130-fow.shtml


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READERS COMMENTS

ken
Mar 31, 2011

It is two hours west of Spokane, not east.

Lostfalls
Nov 05, 2009

This is a truly amazing place to see - and while you're there stop by the state-of-art interpretive center to see a recreation of what the falls once looked like.

PS - There is alot more hiking to that area than the one trail mentioned - just keep an eye out for rattle snakes in the summer.

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