4 April 2017 Spring is coming to Skyline Drive this week. The trees are still bare, but leaves are opening on the lower bushes. And the first wildflowers are opening. I found coltsfoot and liverwort along the Keyser Run fire road near Little Devils Stairs (mile post 19) on Saturday. Other wildflowers, including wild violets, are appearing on Blue Mountain in Linden, which is a Blue Ridge foothill, where I live.
The spring birding has not started yet on the ridge. I saw no sign of migrating warblers, but hawks may be moving north now. I did see a ruffled grouse on the Hannah Run Trail that starts at the Pinnacles View parking lot (note, not Pinnacles picnic area, which is a little further south). I did hear a report of bear sightings from another visitor on Sunday but did not see one myself. I did pass a horse trailer with four horses near Pinnacles, so equestrian activities are starting up.
The trails in general are in good condition and uncrowded. However, the park facilities are not yet open for summer. Skyland opened its Pollock Dining Room on March 30 for dinner. However, the park picnic areas and campgrounds and the store at Elkwallow are not yet open for the season. So, visitors should bring their own food. Traffic is still at winter levels despite the warm, sunny weekend weather.
Overall this is a good time to visit Skyline Drive whether for hiking, touring, or equestrian activities. Hope to see you there.