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April, 2021

Roanoke Appalachian news

Blue Ridge Parkway Closure

Last year parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, not far from Explore park, were closed due to heavy rains and the damage it caused. Repairs on those sections have been completed. However, the bridge that crosses the Roanoke River, which is also in the vicinity of Explore Park, has been closed for repair. Sources indicate that these repairs are extensive and will require work to proceed for over a year. So again, a detour is in place to circumvent the affected section of Blue Ridge Parkway. Please adjust travel plans accordingly.

Appalachian Trail News

Damage to a high voltage powerline closed a section of the Appalachian Trail. A bad snow and ice storm took its toll on a power line straddling the Virginia-West Virginia border. The powerline runs atop Peters Mountain and affected the Appalachian Trail between Clendenin Road and Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, a 15-mile section. The powerline is expected to be repaired by mid-April but be on alert if hiking in this area for any changes to trail routing. This section of trail is very isolated, so please check on any trail advisories before hiking into this area.

Spring Hiking Conditions

According to NOAA and the NWS, it appears that this region of Virginia will have a wet and mild spring on average. Climate prediction models indicate a continuation of the extremely wet weather we have been experiencing for over a year now. Lakes and streams are filled and flowing to capacity, and sometimes flooding. This may have a very direct effect on hiking. Many trails pass through streams which might be hard to cross during rainy periods. Be ready for such an event.

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Park Expansion

The Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve has expanded by nearly 400 acres. The preserve, located just south of Salem VA, now contains over 1300 acres. It plays an important role in forest integrity, acting as a natural buffer to Roanoke Valley development, aids in drinking water quality and is also an important watershed to the Roanoke River. Additionally, the preserve is home to a large population of a rare shrub known as piratebush. You can find hiking trails through the preserve, but parking is very limited with no overflow.