Last week, I had the chance to explore the G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Virginia. Located in Northern Faquier County, the Thompson WMA is less than 90 miles from Bethesda. So easy to visit in a day trip. I’d heard about this area from Elijah Goodwin (@Whimbrelphoto), another photographer in the Washington DC area. Elijah generously shared with me information about what wildflowers were blooming and where to find them.
Thompson WMA was established when George Richard Thompson donated 4,000 acres of land to the state of Virginia, so that hunters could continue to hunt in the area. What this has meant is that there are now 4,000 acres of land preserved in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Parkway. And in the spring – the woods are full of wildflowers.
In just a few hours the other morning, I saw and photographed numerous species of wildflowers. There were some of the largest patches of May Apples (podophyllyn peltatum) that I’ve ever seen. There were thousands of White Trillium (Trillium Grandiflorum) in the area. I’ve heard that there may be millions of them at Thompson WMA – there are quite literally fields of them. I saw several groups of Showy Orchises (Galearis Spectabilis), as well as Wood Betony (pecularis canadensis), Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubis) and Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides).
There are several parking areas that provide easy access to the area. I parked at Stone Ridge Parking Area and found plenty to photograph. I’m told that there are wonderful photographic opportunities at the Trillium Trail parking area as well. Numerous trails run through the WMA, including a section of the Appalachian trail. The trails I hiked last week were in excellent condition and easy hiking.
Based on how the peak bloom of wildflowers progresses in the Appalachian mountains, my guess is things will be blooming in the woods at Thompson WMA for a few more weeks. I’m hoping to get back there at least once more this spring to do a little more exploring – and will definitely head back there next year in search of the early spring wildflowers.