The Raleigh Naturalist

February 13, 2010

Snowy Tree Blocks Buckeye Greenway

Downed Tree on Buckeye Trail in East Raleigh Blocks Snowy Greenway

High winds on top of rains toppled quite a few trees in the area, including this pair of medium specimens lying across the Buckeye Trail greenway at the bottom of Suicide Hill, as it was labeled by the cross country runners who used the greenway before its recent upgrade.  Lowered grade, I should say, since the cruelest, steepest stretch was lengthened and terraced to bring this oldest section of greenway into national codes.  Suicide Hill climbs a rugged quartz and sandstone outcrop that forms the Rocky Overhang, one of the seminal pillars of this blog, as it represents my favorite Crabtree hangout.

Raleigh Nature’s  “scoop” on this downed tree is wonderfully fitting as I get back to basics after a bit of hiatus. Enamored of the Ken Burns series, engulfed by teaching responsibilities, and constantly lured by my current intellectual fling, Ray Johnson/Black Mountain/mail art, I have wintered in the blog a bit, but could not resist the lovely, harmless 3 inch fluff that ended on a Saturday morning.  So I took off for my favorite sight-seeing greenway, Buckeye Trail from Milburnie Road. At the edge of Rollingwood, Crabtree has carved out a tall bluff (at least for this part of Raleigh) and under this 40 foot hump the creek has gouged a fishing hole complete with overhanging boulder shelves from which to cast.  Drowning worms  and hauling up the occasional catfish or bream at the Rocky Overhang is a family tradition for me as child and parent.  Heck, I took dates there, I loved the place so much. I was slightly horrified the day soon after Hurricane Floyd came through to see that a very large sycamore tree across the creek had fallen directly onto the Rocky Overhang, and for several years it was too tangled to get down there.  The kids and I mourned but also learned some valuable lessons about how Crabtree changes over time.  Now that tree has finally eased its way mostly into the fishing hole (after forming a hideous litter trap for more than a year on the way in) and the boulders have cleared somewhat.  In the spring, we’ll take a look, but for now here are more snowy scenes from Buckeye Trail, a gall tale, and a link to the photo album from my snow walk.


The baby beeches we have admired before looked nice mixed into the snowy pines.  Below is the scene at the beginning of Buckeye, where Longview Branch parallels Milburnie as it slides into Crabtree.


Below is a  ditched brook that brings water from the slopes of Rollingwood under the greenway and into Longview Branch just before it reaches the creek.

Just off  Milburnie is the old landfill that now forms a rich meadow, a favorite browsing place of the numerous deer living in Crabtree’s floodplains in East Raleigh. 

Below are some deer and coon tracks in the February snow.

The stump of a large oak I miss very much looked just as sad in the beautiful snow.  This tree had the largest gall I ever saw – a triple-grapefruit sized lump that housed the larvae of box elder beetles.  Greenway maintenence brought it down – I doubt the gall was a factor, but I’ve wondered.

the oak gall

Photo Album of my snow walk



January 21, 2008

The Volkswagen boulders and winter findings

Filed under: East Raleigh, Greenways & Parks, Nature Lore — Tags: , , , — raleighnaturalist @ 3:47 am

At Buckeye Trail’s beginning there is a strange hill hump meadow thing that looks very out of place.  It is an old rather small landfill that must have served Raleigh a very long time ago, but recently enough to be mowed and monitored as landfills now must be.  It swells at the base of a ridge coming down from Peartree Lane across Milburnie Road into the Crabtree floodplain and diverts the waters coming down from Longview Lake into a deeply carved creek that parallels Milburnie and strikes Crabtree just north of the Bow Tie Club, where a very dubiously placed parking lot has been scraped out right next to the creek and seemingly in the water’s right of way.  Anyway, this landfill meadow hides a local kids’ landmark on its wooded northern slope: two huge boulders that must have been unearthed in the landfill’s operation. I mean huge! You know how big they are? Check the title!

 They sit in the middle of this woods in east Raleigh like alien monoliths. There just are no big rocks in this part of Raleigh – it’s either red clay or sand, but no rocks.  Before the greenway got built, I would go every few winters and make a ritual of being able to locate, once again, these well hidden icons of my childhood woodcraft.  Now, the cross-country trail which begins at the top of the landfill meadow takes me down the ridge to a spot where I can hop off and find them in minutes.   Which is cool, and I still go.  But only in winter.  There are large number of sewer line cuts and various off-trail adventures which poison ivy forbids from me most of the year.  But in the dead of winter, I can explore these spots with impunity – as long as I don’t grab any vines while hopping ditches!


 This stretch of greenway shows Crabtree slowing down and deepening as it winds through the marshy joining with Marsh Creek.  The quiet stretch below is just before turning at Milburnie to slide under New Bern Avenue and curve with the beltline toward the Neuse River junction at Anderson Point.  Another touchstone on this walk (available at all times of year, right next to the greenway) is the largest oak gall of which I know.  These red bugs (and I mean true bugs for those in the know) come swarming out of it dangerously early in the spring some years.

There are all kinds of nifty finds on this easternmost stretch of greenway.  Below are two interesting types of fungi: shelf mushrooms and slime mold.

Create a free website or blog at