Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goodbye October

“O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.”
-Robert Frost

Beautiful yet fleeting seems to be what Frost wanted us to remember about fall. This week fall is showing its peak colors in the foothills. Soon the winter winds will bring the brilliant display to an end as our lawns, decks and driveways pile high with the cast off leaves. Take advantage of the mild weather now and enjoy the brief but brilliant color show that is late October in Southern Virginia.

Fall colors continue unfolding across our region but this past week has seen the colors and variety peak in a color explosion. Everywhere you look another beautiful tree can be found just driving through our county, but the mild weather begs us to the trail and the river to experience the colors and peace that prevails in the Autumn woods.

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where Nature has one last fling before the dormant sleep of winter takes hold. The days grow shorter and bring crisp temperatures as the deep greens of summer foliage are transformed into the vivid autumn palette.

Three factors are known to dictate autumn color: length of night, weather and leaf pigments. The primary factor inducing leaf color change is regulated by the calendar. The increasing length of the night is the plants first signal to begin the process of “winterizing” for the coming cold months.

The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences here.


Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights seems to bring out the most spectacular color displays. During the day, leaves produce sugars and the cool nights cause the leaf veins to close holding the sugars in. Sugars and light spur production of the brilliant pigments, by way of anthocyanins and carotenoids producing reds, purples, crimson and golden yellows.

Here a brief list of colors and associated trees
Ash: yellow, maroon
Beech: yellow to orange
Dogwood: scarlet to purple
Hickory: golden bronze
Oak: red, browns or russet
Poplar: golden yellow
Maples: brilliant scarlet to bright golds
Sourwood: deep red
Sweet Gum: golden yellow
Sassafras: bright yellow


Where can I go to see autumn color in Southern Virginia? 

You can find autumn color anywhere you find hardwood trees from parks and forest throughout our region, cemeteries, even in our towns as we have an abundance of “sidewalk trees” within our city limits. Your own neighborhood may be one of the best places if you have that favorite maple or dogwood that you always watch for the change.

Although many flock to the Blueridge Parkway for leaf viewing, and rightly so, you can find spectacular color right here in Henry County. Just about any where along a river or lake can provide delightful vistas. Philpott Lake overlook is a favorite spot close to home as well as Beaver Creek Reservoir with its variety of hardwoods surrounding the lake.

I like our local trails as for color watching as you can go often and really do not even need to plan a special trip to visit. are both highlighted in reds and golds but any trail in our region from Fairystone to Philpott, Fieldale to Gravely Nature Preserve. Enjoy it the colors of late October…for as they say, “This is a limited time only offering”



Friday, October 16, 2009

Damp and Chilly, Fall Arrives

I don't really like gray damp days....but I love the early fall leaves
as the forest begins to prepare for the coming winter.

After a brief meeting at Philpott Lake this morning, I took a break for
aquick hike along the river below the dam.  A light drizzle was nothing
a rain jacket couldn't handle and I slipped into the wet forest on the
narrow trail. Walking slowly I could enjoy the peace and beauty of the
quiet woods as raindrops flecked the surface of the river and the
occasional  trout rose, rings bigger than those of the rain drops,
picking off  unseen tiny insects.

This beautiful, natural surface "out and back" trail  borders the
Smith River for one mile along the Henry County side below
the dam and is perfect for a short hike to experience some

outstanding scenery. The rhododendrons cover one ridge
with thick  vibrant greens, contrasting with the gold
and red hues of early fall against the backdrop of the river.

What a fabulous little break before returning to the
confines of the office. 
Even the gray skies seemed a  little lighter as
I traveled back towards town. 
Take time for a stroll, even in the rain.
A short walk by the river in the early fall woods
can re-focus your thoughts and lighten your day. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Smith River TU Features VDGIF Biologist Scott Smith

Smith River Trout Unlimited will meet at Rania's Restaurant in uptown Martinsville, on Thursday, December 3, 2009, at 6:30pm. The program for the evening will feature Virginia DGIF Fisheries Biologist Scott Smith who will present findings and recommendations based on recent samplings and studies of the Smith River trout fishery. We will also hold elections and install officers to lead the SRTU chapter in 2010 - proposed slate TBA prior to meeting along with nominations from floor.

You do not have to be a member of TU to attend our meetings.(You must be a member in order to vote on chapter business). Anyone who has an interest in the Smith River Fishery is encouraged to attend.

For information contact Chapter Pres B.J. Walker, (434) 728-1419 http://www.blogger.com/
Secy Al Kittredge, (910) 868-6235 aakitt@earthlink.net
or check our website for more details and directions. http://www.blogger.com/

Friday, October 2, 2009

Think it's too cold to paddle? No way!

I absolutely love paddling in the fall when the air is crisp and bright yellow, red and brown leaves dot the trees.  Taking a leisurely paddle to enjoy the scenery is a perfect way to unwind and experience nature. For beginner paddlers though, this extra chill can be daunting. To help novice paddlers get into the sport so they will be ready to go in spring, Smith River Adventure Outfitters is now offering beginner kayak classes indoors at the Martinsville YMCA!

Classes are offered the third Friday of each month (October 16, November 20, December 18) from 6-8PM.

Drop your boat in the heated pool to learn entry and exit skills, paddle strokes, river running techniques and introduction to the kayak (eskimo) roll. Classes are $35 each and boat rentals are available for $10 extra.

Contact Smith River Adventure Outfitters - 252-0701 or the YMCA - 632-6427 to register or for more information.