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Columbiana trail is spring delight

The North Country Trail passes through eight states including 1,000 miles of trail in Ohio. However, it was a very tiny but beautiful section in Columbiana County that became an escape last spring when my family found ourselves without a Sunday morning commitment.

The wealth of spring wildflowers and migratory warblers made it such an enjoyable experience for a nature lover.

The trail is adjacent to the North Fork of Beaver Creek, and some of it is along a ridge above the creek. The advantage to that is being able to look out through the canopy of trees growing on the hillside below making it possible to view warblers that prefer the treetops without the pain of a stiff neck.

It was hard to miss an eye-level blackburnian warbler with its bright orange throat. Not far from there, an American redstart flashed its own version of the orange and black combination. Although not warblers, we saw several bright red and black male scarlet tanagers.

Not to be outdone, the magnolia warbler is another beauty with a bright yellow throat. Several of these stayed close enough to us that binoculars were not needed for identification.

A barred owl could be heard some distance away. There were others, but I could not identify them because I was not familiar with their song.

Just as lovely and much easier to see and identify were the spring wildflowers. On an early April walk, the woods appear to have a yellow haze due to masses of blooming spicebush. The bloom is food for early pollinators, and a red fruit in autumn feeds migrating birds. It also serves as a butterfly host plant. Crushing a few leaves released its pleasant scent.

Also, in early April, patches of ramps grow along the trail. Scent-wise ramps are the polar opposite of spicebush. A relative of onions and garlic, the native plant is considered a delicacy by some and should only be harvested from legal sites.

White trillium and dark red toadshade were everywhere. Colonies of wild ginger with its red-brown bloom tucked under the leaves were easy to see. Other spring ephemerals included bloodroot, hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, toothwort, woodland phlox and long-spurred violet.

We enjoyed the reflection of colorful foliage in the creek in October. January gave us the pleasure of watching a soaring eagle. No matter where you live, take the time to find that quiet escape and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer. View maps and trails that go through our area at https://northcountrytrail.org/.

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