Round Hill Goes “Native”

Round Hill Goes “Native”

There’s a new garden in town. Stop by the Town Office to see our Virginia Native Plant Garden. The garden was supported by the Town and installed by volunteers with Round Hill Outdoors, Virginia Master Naturalists and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Why plant “native”?

Do you like birds? Then you’ll want a host of caterpillars hanging around your house. Do you like to grow veggies? Then you’ll need a few bees in your neighborhood. Here in the U.S., we have a long history of importing plants from distant lands. Some to eat. Some for their looks. The problem is that these exotic plants and our vast expanses of lawn don’t support our bees, birds or other wildlife. 

Even worse, some introduced plants are invasive in our environment. When a plant has few or no insects feeding on them or plants that can’t compete with them, they crowd out native plants. Think garlic mustard, multi-flora rose, barberry, Japanese stilt grass. Add to that all land going under development as shopping centers and housing developments, and we’ve lost a great deal of native habitat. 

So, what can we do? Plant native. Birds and butterflies depend on native plans for food, shelter and reproduction. Our gardens can become sanctuaries for these critters. And that’s not the only benefit of going native. Plants that are naturally adapted to our local soils and climate, will need less fertilizer, water and pesticides–so they’re easier to maintain as they help reduce the chemicals introduced to our habitats.

Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of our natural ecosystems. And it’s not hard to “go native.” Groups like Plant NoVa Natives and Audubon at Home offer abundant advice. Plus, many of our local nurseries carry a selection of Virginia native plants, and we even have an all-native nursery, Watermark Woods, near town.

The Virginia Native Plant Garden will be maintained by Round Hill Outdoors.

Planting Crew

Kathi Hottinger

Jody Brady

Bill Brady

Carol Dennis

B.J. Lecrone

Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival Set for June 15, 2019

Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival Set for June 15, 2019

Round Hill Outdoors is excited to announce the first ever Round Hill Appalachian Trial Festival, set for June 15, 2019 at B Chord Brewing!

You can both celebrate the natural beauty of the A.T. and learn about protecting it. We’ll have partner organizations (Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Friends of the Blue Ridge, Virginia Master Naturalists) with displays and talks about hiking, trail conservancy and more. Enjoy live music, too—plus equipment demos, kids activities, food and, of course, beer.

Following 2,100 miles of mountain ridge lines, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) crosses 14 states, from Maine to Georgia. It’s the longest and oldest marked footpath in the country. And we’re lucky enough to have the A.T. right in our backyard.

In the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Round Hill sits between two beloved A.T. centers, Bears Den to the south and Blackburn to the north. So, when town leaders learned about the Appalachian Trail Community program, it seemed a natural fit. After more than a year of work and planning, this festival acknowledges Round Hill’s official designation as an A.T. Community, recognizing the Trail as a community assist and pledging to support ongoing Trail stewardship.

Volunteer Day at Sleeter Lake Park

Volunteer Day at Sleeter Lake Park

An announcement from Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a fantastic local nonprofit organization that selected Sleeter Lake Park for a special project to further extended the vision of making the park a sanctuary for all of us. Feel free to share this post or their flyer.

  • What: Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains is sponsoring a tree planting event 
  • Where: Sleeter Lake Park, Lakefield Road (Route 791), Round Hill 
  • When: 10:00 am Saturday, March 23; Rain/inclement weather date: March 30 
  • What: Plant 1½ to 2 inch caliper trees (donated by Meadows Farms Nurseries) into predug holes 
  • Provided: Instructions and tools for planting; refreshments 
  • Informationinfo@friendsofblueridge.org for registration and additional information

Thanks to donations from our members, Friends is sponsoring a collaborative project to enhance Sleeter Lake Park, western Loudoun County’s newest recreational park in Round Hill. Our partners include Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC), Loudoun County Master Gardeners Association (LCMGA), and the Town of Round Hill. Friends is providing an environmentally friendly master plan for the park based on a design by James Remuzzi of Sustainable Solutions. 

Meadows Farms Nurseries also donated 20 trees for the project. LWC is developing a pollinator meadow with native plants and shrubs. LCMGA has identified existing mature trees along paths through the woods and assisted in the selection of indigenous trees to plant along the paths that connect existing and future park amenities. 

Meadows Farms Nurseries also donated 20 trees for the project. LWC is developing a pollinator meadow with native plants and shrubs. LCMGA has identified existing mature trees along paths through the woods and assisted in the selection of indigenous trees to plant along the paths that connect existing and future park amenities.

The paths will employ earth stabilization and best management practices by incorporating erosion control and water retention/filtration methods on the slopes leading to the lake.

Other improvements planned for Sleeter Lake Park include an outdoor classroom for teaching environmental stewardship, a viewing platform, pollinator gardens and meadow, picnic areas, benches, rest rooms, and fishing pads along the lake.    

Round Hill Appalachian Trail Art Show Reception Set for March 10

Round Hill Appalachian Trail Art Show Reception Set for March 10

Round Hill Outdoors and the Round Hill Arts Center received 45 works in a variety of media from artists of all ages for the 2nd Annual Appalachian Trail Art Show. These works will be on display at the Round Hill Arts Center throughout the month of March. The purpose of the show is to broaden public awareness and appreciation of the Appalachian Trail and the beautiful wild nature of the Blue Ridge.

There will be a reception at the Round Hill Arts Center on March 10 from 2-5pm to recognize the participating artists to celebrate Round Hill’s new status as a designated “Appalachian Trail Community”.

The Round Hill Arts Center is located at 35246 Harry Byrd Hwy #170, Round Hill, VA 20141.

Judges Jill Evans-Kavaldjian and Brian Kirk will present prizes to the winners at 2:30pm. Prizes for the two student categories (grades K-6, and grades 7-12) were generously provided by Mod Pizza, the Round Hill Arts Center and Sweet Rose Bakery.  Adult winners will receive gift certificates donated by  Magnolia’s at the Mill, West End Wine Bar & Pub, B Chord Brewing Company and Otium Cellars. Awards will be presented at 2:30pm.

At 2:45pm, we will introduce our guest speaker, Sandi Marra, Chair of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Board of Directors.

Refreshments will be provided by Savoir Fare Catering and Notaviva Vineyards. There will be snacks and arts activities for the children.

For more information, visit our Art Show page or contact Susan Stowe.

Screen-Free Week Brings Together Round Hill Community

Also posted at screenfree.org.

It was spring 2018, and the tiny town of Round Hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia was gearing up for Screen-Free Week. A small town that’s more than 100 years old, Round Hill is home to many communities and neighborhoods, all built at different times: some Round Hill homes are over 100 years old, some were built in the 60s, some in the 90s, and clusters of new neighborhoods were added recently.

All it took for us to organize a Screen-Free Week event was one fearless parent, a few committed town citizens, an open-minded elementary school principal, and a fantastic town planner. These amazing people pulled off a campaign to trade screen life for real life for an entire week.

We posted signs advertising our town-wide Screen-Free Week around town, and we used the town’s and community’s social media for screen-free advocacy and encouragement.

But the most important and challenging part of it all was getting the youngest generation, our children, to give up screens for more meaningful ways to spend time with family, ideally outdoors.

One fearless parent, Kathi Hottinger, met with Andrew Davis, the principal of Round Hill Elementary (a school of about 600 students), and together they agreed on some important details for the school’s celebration of Screen-Free Week:

  • Students would bring home a flyer from school on the first day of Screen-Free Week listing 100 fun screen-free activities to do as a family.
  • Students would be allowed to complete their homework without screens during Screen-Free Week.
  • Upon the successful completion of Screen-Free Week, students would enjoy an outdoors nature-oriented scavenger hunt at school.

With these details in place, the very first Round Hill Screen-Free Week began, and succeeded in bringing kids and families out of their homes and into the outdoors.

It went great, but it was not perfect. Some parents and kids still had screens and some teachers still assigned screen homework (just for one day).

Hiccups happen.

But the amount of fun our Round Hill families had was well worth all the effort: parents, kids, and neighbors really connected through hikes, playing games, or hanging outdoors and soaking up the sun. Sean Lloyd, a resident of Round Hill, organized a community hike at the nearby Appalachian Trail, a national treasure, which some Round Hill residents had yet to discover. Melissa Hynes, Round Hill’s town planner, found funding to purchase some native plants for Round Hill Town Park that would attract native wildlife and provide educational opportunities for kids. She organized a town-wide event where residents planted a pollinator garden with help from local scout troops.

And the students had a grand school scavenger hunt outdoors on Friday, with every grade taking a turn while two parent volunteers reshuffled and re-positioned the scavenger hunt items for the next group of students.

Round Hill’s Screen-Free Week proved how great it feels to celebrate life away from screens and in the great outdoors.

Screen-Free Week is a great way for a community to organize a variety of different outdoor events that bring families and neighbors together. As we learned, it can and should be done if we want to pass on to our children the value of reality, the value of neighbors, friends, and togetherness, and the value of real life experience without the distraction of a screen.

Hike: Cool Spring Waterfall

Hike: Cool Spring Waterfall

Distance

3 Miles

Route Type

Out & Back

Difficulty

Easy

Description

This out-and-back hike takes you on a paved path through the old golf course along the Shenandoah River, then off-road on a flat footpath that winds through a grove of paw-paw trees, across a stream over stepping stones, and then a few more steps until you reach a beautiful waterfall.

The land you’re walking through was the site of the Battle of Cool Spring in 1864, much later became a golf course, and recently Shenandoah University reclaimed the property and maintains it as an outdoor classroom for both its community and the general public.

Beyond the waterfall is the River Ridge Trail, which connects into a network of trails, including the Appalachian Trail (just north of Raven Rocks).

Map

Parking

Coming from Round Hill, head west on Route 7. Right before you reach the Shenandoah River, turn right onto Parker Lane. Warning: This turn comes up fast, so be prepared and mind the cars behind you if you stop suddenly.

Follow Parker Lane until you reach the Cool Spring lodge. In front of the lodge is a big parking lot.

Hike: Raven Rocks Hollow Run

Distance

4 Miles

Route Type

Out & Back

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

This out-and-back hike takes you up and away from Rte 7 for about 1.5 miles before a half-mile steep descent to Raven Rocks Hollow Run, the turnaround spot. You’ll find a nice shady place to hang out and enjoy a snack before returning south to your car. If you’re thirsty, there’s a spring about 100 yards down a blue blaze trail where you can collect water (filtration recommended).

Hiking Upward has more great information. Their hike takes you all the way to the Raven Rocks cliff, which offers a beautiful view for only one more mile (round trip).

Map

Parking

Coming from Round Hill, you have two parking lots to choose from:

  • Raven Rocks: On your right at the intersection of Rte 7 and Pine Grove Rd (SR 679). This lot is closest to the trailhead, but is much smaller and fills up fast. Pay attention to the signs and do not park on the side of Pine Grove Rd unless you want to risk getting towed.
  • Bear’s Den: On your left at the intersection of Rte 7 and Blue Ridge Mountain Road (SR 601). This lot is much bigger, but requires you to cross Rte 7 to reach the trailhead.

 

Bear's Den Parking Lot

Raven Rocks Parking Lot

Hike: Keyes Gap to David Lesser Shelter

Hike: Keyes Gap to David Lesser Shelter

Distance

6 Miles

Route Type

Out & Back

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

A simple walk in the woods along the Appalachian Trail starting from the Keyes Gap parking lot turning around point at the David Lesser shelter – an excellent example of an Appalachian Trail shelter used by thru-hikers walking from Georgia to Maine. It’s the perfect midway point to relax and eat your lunch, complete with a picnic table and swing. Just downhill from the shelter is a stream where you can collect water (filtration recommended).

A little local history on Keyes Gap from Wikipedia:

Keyes Gap or Keyes’ Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountain on the border of Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia. The gap is traversed by Virginia State Route 9/West Virginia Route 9. The Appalachian Trail also crosses the gap.

 

Originally known as Vestal’s Gap, the 906 feet (276 m) gap is one of the lowest crossings of the Blue Ridge in Virginia. During the colonial period the main road between Alexandria and Winchester ran through the gap. As such, part of General Edward Braddock’s army under George Washington crossed through the gap on their way to Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War.

 

By 1820, the main route west became the newly completed Snickers Gap Turnpike which crossed the Blue Ridge to the south at Snickers Gap, and Keyes Gap lost its prominence. Despite this, Keyes Gap was still of strategic importance during the American Civil War, as it provided an alternate “back route” from Virginia to the key point of Harpers Ferry.

Map

Parking

Coming from Round Hill, on the right side (north) of Route 9 right at the WV / VA border. Parking spaces are limited, so carpool when possible.